Media awards are not just for Hollywood’s elite

Coveted prizes like the BAFTAs, Oscars and Golden Globes receive extensive coverage; yet many smaller awards for independent media production go unannounced.

Each year prizes are presented for outstanding feature films, documentaries, investigative journalism, photography and many other fields of media production.

Awards are an excellent way of showcasing work and increasing exposure to professional networks within the industry.

We at World Fixer have collated a selection of awards for film, photography and journalism. Most are open to professionals across the world, but entry requirements differ slightly between each. Please consult rules and regulations on individual websites for exact eligibility criteria.

Film Independent Spirit Awards

These awards are produced by Film Independent, a non-profit arts organization that also produces the Los Angeles Film Festival and whose mission is to champion creative independence in visual storytelling.

The awards, founded in 1984, are held in Santa Monica (LA) usually a day before the academy awards.

This year’s John Cassavetes prize, which awards the best feature made for under $500,000, went to Florida-set drama Life and Nothing More from Spanish director Antonio Méndez Esparza, shot entirely with a cast of non-professional actors.

Submissions are open until 9th October for the 2019 awards. To be eligible for entry films must have been shown in a commercial theatre in the United States for at least one week (seven consecutive days) beginning in the 2018 calendar year. Alternatively been shown in 2018 at one of the following six film festivals: Los Angeles Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, New York Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Telluride Film Festival or Toronto International Film Festival.

Except for the category of Best International Film and Best Documentary, all nominations go to American productions.

Arthouse Asia -4th-6th January, 2019 

Arthouse Asia honours independent content originated across the world in any languages.

Winning films are awarded the “Golden Wood Award”, and are introduced and marketed at various Asian Film Markets by Arthouse World Network. The films  also go on a multi-city tour throughout the Indian Subcontinent, as part of Arthouse’s aim to expand exposure of independent films.

Submissions are open to filmmakers across the globe, indeed this year’s winners came from across all seven continents.

Categories include, documentary, fiction, short fiction, animation, video art, music video and virtual reality.

Australian independent film festival awards – 24th November, 2018 

This is the first year for the Aussie Independent Film Awards, and will be hosted in Brisbane.

There are awards for international short, Australian short, animation, documentary and experimental film. In addition there are awards for young film makers.

There is an interesting twist to the Aussie awards. Two of the top 40 submissions are randomly selected to be screened at the awards ceremony.

Organisers recognise the importance of networking for film makers. All selected finalists are invited to attend pre-festival meet and greet, and Industry panel discussion.

British Independent film awards, 

The British Independent Film Awards (BIFA) began in 1998 and endeavour to highlight and reward the best, most innovative and creative independent filmmaking and filmmakers in the UK.

theatrical feature films and short films. The majority of categories are only open to British independent films.

To be eligible, the work must have been produced or majority co-produced by a British company or is in receipt of at least 51% of its budget from a British source or sources and includes sufficient creative elements from the UK.

Feature films must be over 70 minutes in length, and have had a public screening to a paying audience, either on general release in the UK or at a British film festival or at one of BIFA’s recognised international festivals, between 1st December 2017 and 30th November 2018.

To be eligible for best international feature, films must have had a theatrical release in the UK within BIFA’s eligibility dates for the given year, or have won an award at one of BIFA’s recognised international film festivals.

There are awards for feature and documentary, as well as individual prizes for director, producer, cast, and editing.

Last year, best British independent film went to Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country, while Best International was awarded to Get Out from Jordan Peel.

For the 2018 awards, submissions end 3rd September; nominations are announced in November and awards take place in December.

South Africa Indie Festival-  24th-26th May 2019

SA Indie Fest encourages filmmakers to share their best works, bringing together both filmmakers and film enthusiasts gather to discover new forms of expressiveness and to exchange thoughts and ideas. The South African Independent Film Festival aims to support both emerging and experienced filmmakers.

This year the awards are open to international filmmakers, with awards for best film, documentary, cast, director, cinematography and others.

Early entry opens until 30th September, with the final deadline 10th April.

South African Film Festival

European Independent Film Festival (ECU) – 5th- 7th April 2019.

The 14th edition of ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival will be held in Paris, France on 5th, 6th, and 7th of April 2019.

Films are judged in 14 categories, 7 of which are open to non-European filmmakers (from the Americas, Australia, Africa, and Asia), and compete for 25 awards.

ÉCU is all about connecting the film production industry. Accompanying the awards are professional workshops led by experts in the industry, Q&A’s held with the attending filmmakers. It is a chance to network with fellow filmmakers, producers, agents, industry representatives and prospective film buyers

Submissions are open now for the 2019 awards, with a discount for early submission.

Paris Independent Film Festival- 21st-24th November, 2018 

The awards honour independent filmmakers from around the world, paying special attention to ultra low-budget films by first and second-time directors.

The Paris awards are now in their fourth year, and will be hosted by the Katara Cinema at Le Royal Monceau Raffles.

There are awards for Low-budget Feature Film (Budget over €150k), Micro-budget Feature (Budget under €150k) and No-Budget Feature (Budget under €50k). Additional categories include, documentary, experimental short, horror and music video.

Regular submission is now over, but you have until 28th September for the late entry period.

Non-English language produced films must have English subtitles or be dubbed in English. French films may be screened without subtitles.

International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Awards- 25th October in New York, 1st November in Washington DC

The Courage in Journalism Awards honour the brave journalists who report on taboo topics, work in environments hostile to women, and share difficult truths. They recognise women who demonstrate a commitment to press freedom and extraordinary strength of character, overcoming unjust conditions to become leaders in their industry.

Previous winners include Meridith Kohut, an American photojournalist who documented the economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, photographing breadlines, patients dying from medicine shortages in collapsed public hospitals, people clashing with security forces in violent, and labouring in illegal gold mines.

Nina Elbagir, International Correspondent for CNN, has also previously been honoured for her reports from Nigeria, Syria and Somalia.

Candidates for the Courage in Journalism Awards can be full-time or freelance women reporters, writers, editors, photographers or producers working in any country. Nominations can be made via the WMF’s website.

Society for Environmental Journalists- 6th October, Flint, Michigan

SEJ’s Awards for Reporting on the Environment continue recognise the most important environmental stories on the planet. Prizes of $500 for first-place winners and $250 for second-place winners in seven categories.

Award categories include; Outstanding In-depth Reporting, Beat Reporting, Explanatory Reporting, Feature Story, and Environment Book Award.

This year The Nina Mason Pulliam Award for the “best of the best” environmental reporting will award $10,000 to one entry selected from the first-place winners of SEJ’s Awards for Reporting on the Environment

Inter American Press Association (IAPA) Excellence in Journalism Awards- August, 2018

The contest recognises outstanding work in journalism,  incentivising the search for new paths of professional excellence.

Categories include; Cartoon, news coverage, human rights, features, infographic and data journalism. In addition the IAPA presents the Grand Prize for Press Freedom.

Nominations are considered from those who have published in a daily, weekly, magazine or online publication; in Spanish, English or Portuguese.

This year’s finalists included, Protests in Venezuela by reports at El Estímulo, Anastasia Moloney for her feature ‘Seduced into Slavery: How a Mexican Family Became Sex Traffickers’, and Omar Lucas with his photograph series, ‘Battle and Hope: Tuberculosis in Lima’.


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