The Spo​tlight Documentary Film Awards is dedicated to promoting experienced and new documentary filmmakers through a unique and important international film competition. We are searching the globe for the best documentary films on Earth to spotlight and support.

Spotlight Short Film Awards

Spotlight Horror Film Awards

Spotlight Documentary Film Awards

We publicize our award-winning films through various websites, press releases, social media posts and email campaigns to industry leaders, film festival organizers, and more. Our award-winning filmmakers get the recognition they deserve, and can have a better success rate on the sometimes arduous journey through the festival circuit.

Our organization is composed of industry professionals: filmmakers, independent film consultants, film festival organizers, festival programmers and judges who have been in the business nearly 20 years, and share a passion for independent film. Our team has evaluated and judged more than 25,000 independent films from directors and producers just like you. Many of the films were spectacular, and some needed a little tweaking, but they were all magically created with the unwavering spirit of the true independent filmmaker.

The Spotlight Documentary Film Awards is a must for filmmakers who are searching for someone who can give their documentary films the undivided attention they deserve. We can now shine the spotlight on an unlimited amount of talented filmmakers from around the world, and celebrate the art and beauty of filmmaking.

The Spotlight Documentary Film Awards has awarded nearly 700 films from over 40 countries: Antarctica, Aruba, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Cuba, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, French Polynesia, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russian Federation, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and USA.

Awards are announced every year in June and December. Filmmakers with documentary shorts and features are encouraged to Enter your film to the Spotlight Documentary Film Awards.

Other Spotlight competitions include the Spotlight Short Film Awards and the Spotlight Horror Film Awards.


Platinum Awards: ​celebrate truly remarkable films with the highest scores from our panel. Platinum Award Winners will be invited to screen at one or more events during the Atlanta Film Series.

Gold Awards: celebrate incredible films with the second highest scores from our panel.

Silver Awards: awarded to unforgettable films with the third highest scores from our panel.

Bronze Awards: awarded to films with high artistic achievement with the fourth highest scores from our panel.

First Time Filmmaker Awards of Excellence: first time filmmakers who have created the top films will receive Awards of Excellence.

No Award: Films not receiving an award will be given important and honest feedback from our organization upon request. We know the amount of hard-work it takes to make independent films. This feedback could be essential in getting your film out there for the world to see.

Awards will be announced every year in June and December. The total number of films awarded depend on the number of entries received.


Award Winners Receive:

Hi-resolution digital downloads of Spotlight Documentary Film Award Winning Laurels.

A personalized Certificate of Excellence in Filmmaking announcing your award.

Social Media posts, press releases and emails to our extensive database of industry professionals with announcements of your award.

Links from our website, and our sister websites, to your film website, film trailer, and / or sales of your film online.

Filmmaker Spotlight with director photo, bio, and links to chosen websites.

Documentary Shorts are 45 minutes and under. Documentary Features are 46 minutes and over.

Awards are announced every year in June and December

Entries in any language other than English or Spanish should be subtitled in either language.

Entries can only be submitted via FilmFreeway with a secure link of an online copy through vimeo or other host. No hard-copies of films will be considered. Email us with questions.

Overall Rating
  • An invaluable festival! The way it is structured allows for many deserving filmmakers to be recognized for their hard work. Communication and follow-up are exceptional. Thank you so much for awarding "Desert Coffee" with a Gold Award - it means so much. The Award Certificate is stunning!

    August 2018
  • An amazing festival to get your work recognized. Made my year.

    July 2018
  • Great experience working with Spotlight Documentary Film Awards!

    July 2018
  • Maribel Apuya

    You guys are so awesome! Seamless communication and such a gracious organization. I’m honored to have my film granted the Silver Award. Thank you for your wonderful support of independent filmmakers.

    July 2018
  • James Reiman

    I have no complaints. The organizers were generally quick to respond. My students were happy to have their film represented.

    July 2018