Awards and Judging Criteria

Audience at the 2014 IWM Short Film Festival Award ceremony

There will be awards in the following categories:

  • Annie Dodds Award for Best Documentary
  • Best Creative Response
  • IWM Special Category: Age of Terror
  • Best Student Film
  • Best Use of IWM Archive Material
  • Audience Vote Award

Prizes for 2017 include:

  • An archive and restoration package of up to £10,000 with R3Store Studios Ltd
  • A 12 week paid internship with October Films
  • 5 days free access to a fully equipped studio space or High End post-production facilities at London South Bank University

All shortlisted films will be screened at IWM London from 17-26 November 2017. Filmmakers will also be in with a chance of having their film screened at Picturehouse cinemas.

Winners in five of the categories are decided by panels of judges. Judging will take place shortly before the start of the festival. Winners and runners-up in these categories will be publically announced at an awards ceremony held at IWM London on 15 November 2017.

Screening audiences will be invited to rate the films they watch out of five. The film with the highest average score will be announced the Audience Vote Award winner. The winner and runner up in the Audience Vote Award will be announced after the end of the screenings through IWM's digital channels.


The judging panel will be made up of professional filmmakers, IWM Film Archive staff and key people from the wider film industry.

Confirmed judges for 2017 include:

  • Lydia Beilby (Short Film Programmer, Edinburgh International Film Festival)
  • Sheyma Buali (Director, BBC Arabic Festival)
  • Jemma Desai (Film Programme Manager, Shorts and Global Exhibition, British Council)
  • Chris Elliott (Head of Division of Film and Media, London South Bank University)
  • Chris Harris (Programmer and Head of Virtual Services, Picturehouse Cinemas)
  • Sandra Hebron (Head of Screen Arts, National Film and Television School)
  • Shona Illingworth (Exhibiting Artist, IWM London: Age of Terror)
  • Matimba Kabalika (NET.WORK Talent Co-ordinator and Content Editor, BFI Film Fund)
  • Matt Lee (Director, IWM Short Film Festival)
  • Kevin Loader (Producer, Free Range Films)
  • Jane Manning (Director, Production and Operations, October Films)
  • Richard Melman (Executive Producer, Spring Films)
  • Jack Penman (Freelance Archive Producer, Channel 4, PBS and National Geographic Channel)
  • Helen Upcraft (Assistant Director, IWM Short Film Festival)
  • Dr Toby Haggith (Founding Director, IWM Short Film Festival)
  • Dr Lawrence Napper (Lecturer in Film Studies, King’s College London)
  • Bonnie-Chance Roberts (Development & Production Executive, Monumental Pictures)

Judging Criteria

General points

IWM tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since 1914. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people's lives.

Submissions should use IWM collections or should be based on our subject matter in its broadest sense. The film doesn't need to be about IWM subject matter if it uses IWM collections and vice versa.

Production values, while important, are not the most important consideration when judging the films – we welcome submissions from first time, student and amateur filmmakers.

Originality of subject matter is a key factor – the judges will be looking out for less well known content and stories.

The judges will consider how the films:

  • Use archive material ethically
  • Tackle the subject matter objectively
  • Make historically accurate use of source material
  • Treat material and subject matter sensitively
Annie Dodds Award for Best Documentary

The judges will be looking for:

  • A factual approach or using factual accounts
  • Historical accuracy
  • Balanced approach to the subject matter
  • Challenging or imaginative approach to the subject matter
  • Films don't have to be in a standard documentary format
  • Coherence
Best Creative Response

The judges will be looking for:

  • Artistic merit
  • Compelling ideas and concepts
  • Challenging of more formal ideas of filmmaking in content and structure
  • Clever or imaginative use of archive material
  • Quality of script and plot
IWM Special Category: Age of Terror

Film must cover themes linked to IWM's upcoming 2017 special exhibition, Age of Terror, by responding to war and conflict since the seismic events of 11 September 2001.

The judges will be looking for:

  • Originality/uniqueness of the conceit/concept
  • Creative, challenging and innovative response to subject matter
  • A powerful story or message
  • A daring, bold and visually compelling aesthetic  
Best Use of IWM Archive Material

Film must contain collections held by the IWM, such as: film, photographs, sound, art, exhibits.

The judges will be looking for:

  • Historically accurate use of archive material
  • Innovative and creative use of archive material
  • Employment of rare or unusual archive material
  • Intelligent and sensitive use of archive material
  • Archive material key to the success of the film
  • A film that broadens or deepens understanding of the subject
Best Student Film

All films indicated on the entry form as being made by students, in full or part-time education, will be entered into this award. Films must be made whilst the filmmaker was a member of an educational institution.

Audience Vote Award

Screening audiences will be invited to rate the films they watch out of five. The film with the highest average score will be announced the Audience Vote Award winner.

More questions? See our FAQs.