Prizes and awards


Royal Anthropological Institute Film Prize
Awarded biennially since 1980, this prize is for `the most outstanding film on social, cultural and biological anthropology or archaeology’. The value of the prize is £500.

Basil Wright Film Prize
This prize has been awarded biennially since 1986 when it was endowed by the late North American filmmaker, Robert Gardner, in honour of Basil Wright, a leading figure of the British Documentary Movement in the 1930s. As phrased by Gardner himself, it will be awarded for a film ‘in the ethnographic tradition’ that takes advantage of ‘the evocative faculty of film’ as a means of ‘furthering a concern for humanity ‘ and for communicating that concern to others. The value of the prize is £500.

Wiley Blackwell Student Film Prize
This prize was awarded for the first time in 1990, and since 2005 has been sponsored by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, It will be given to the most outstanding film in the ethnographic tradition made by a student enrolled in a recognized educational institution. In assessing the films, in addition to anthropological relevance, the judges will consider the budget constraints, technical resources, and professional input available to the filmmakers. The value of the prize is £250.

Archaeology and Material Culture Film Prize
This award has been offered by the Film Festival Committee since 1990 and is for the best film about the social use and cultural significance of material objects, be it at the present time or any previous period in human history.  The value of the prize is £250

Intangible Culture Film Prize (Music – Dance – Performance)
Named with reference to the UNESCO designation ‘Intangible Culture’, this prize was created in 2007 by the Film Festival Committee in response to the growing number of ethnographic films dealing with music, dance and performance. The value of the prize is £250.

Audience Prize
The audience is invited to vote by ballot for their favourite film in the Festival, regardless of whether it has been shortlisted for one of the prizes or has been scheduled in one of the themed ‘special interest’ screenings. The prize is normally sponsored by a local publisher or institution.


**NEW** Ethnomusicology Film Award
This award will be for the most outstanding film about music/sound in the world. Special consideration will be given to innovative audio-visual work that increases knowledge and understanding of musicians, music cultures or soundscapes. The film must be substantial (at least 30 minutes long) and should address issues of concern in ethnomusicology, but need not necessarily belong to any conventional ethnographic genre. The award is sponsored by the British Forum for Ethnomusicology.  The value of the prize is £250.

Richard Werbner Award for Visual Ethnography
Funded since 2011 by the distinguished Africanist anthropologist and filmmaker, Richard Werbner, this award will be for a film made by an academic anthropologist, preferably as part of a doctoral or post-doctoral research project.  The film must be substantial (at least 40 minutes) and based upon extensive fieldwork by the film-maker among the film’s subjects. Special consideration will be given to works that explore the distinctive capacity of the film to complement and enhance anthropological knowledge communicated through text. The value of the prize is £250

Lifetime Achievement Award
Since 1990, the RAI Film Committee has periodically made a Lifetime Achievement Award to honour outstanding contributions to ethnographic documentary film-making and/or academic visual anthropology.

President’s Award
First introduced in 2017, the President’s Award is assigned by the Film Festival Committee to a film of truly exceptional merit that addresses issues of great contemporary importance and concern in anthropology or archaeology. This film may take the form of either fiction or fact-based documentary, and need not necessarily belong to any conventional ethnographic genre. The Festival Committee will consult widely in making this Award, but it does not invite submissions and there will be no monetary prize. This film will normally be screened on the opening night of festival, ideally in the presence of the director.