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2025 Broadcast Honors Submissions Now Open

The Rules

Please note: The following information has been updated to include the eligibility rules for the Broadcast categories for the 2025 Cinema Eye Honors. Feature and Short Film rules for 2025 will be updated in the coming weeks. 

If you have questions, please contact Cinema Eye via email.

Feature Film Eligibility

Updated for 2024

Films must be a minimum of 41 minutes long and become eligible by fulfilling one of four criteria:

  1. Selected to screen at three or more international film festivals (listed alphabetically), no matter whether those film festivals were in person or virtual. Examples of international film festivals include (listed alphabetically): AFI FEST, Ambulante, Antenna, Ashland, Berlin, Big Sky, BlackStar, Camden, Cannes, Cinéma du Réel, CPH:DOX, Dallas, DC/DOX, Denver, DocAviv, Doc Edge New Zealand, DOC NYC, Docs Against Gravity, DOK Leipzig, Dokufest Kosovo, DOXA Vancouver, Edinburgh, Guangzhou, Hamptons, Hot Docs, IDFA, It’s All True, Jihlava, Karlovy Vary, Locarno, London, Melbourne, Miami, MOMA Doc Fortnight, Montclair, New Directors/New Films, New York, Open City, Outfest, Provincetown, RIDM, Rooftop Films Summer Series, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Sarasota, Seattle, Sheffield, Sundance, SXSW, Telluride, Tide, Toronto, Traverse City, Tribeca, True/False, Venice, Visions du Réel or Yamagata. 
  2. An Oscar-qualifying theatrical release prior to the end of the year.
  3. Reporting at least $25,000 in North American theatrical box office.
  4. Has premiered or will premiere on a major broadcast or streaming platform between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023.
NOTE: Films may only submit once for Cinema Eye Feature Honors. For example, if you submitted for 2023 because you were eligible via a festival screening, you cannot submit again this year even if you are eligible via theatrical release.

NOTE: Films that had a public screening prior to January 1, 2022 are not eligible, even if they had not previously submitted and meet the other eligibility requirements.

Voting for Feature Film Categories

Updated for 2024
  • Nominations are determined by the votes of the Cinema Eye Feature Film Nominations Committee.
  • Cinema Eye Core Team members do not vote for nominees, except for the Nominations Committee chair(s), who vote(s) as part of their committee duties.
  • Nominations Committee members are asked to vote for their favorites in each category from the list of submitted films ranking films 1-5, with 1 being their favorite, except in the Outstanding Nonfiction Feature category and the Audience Choice category where they rank ten films 1-10.  Films ranked first receive 5 points (10 points in Feature and Audience categories), second receive 4 points (9 in Feature and Audience) and so on.
  • Total points from the nominations committee are tallied. The top five point totals are named nominees. Five nominees is a minimum number of nominees in most categories, but we default toward six nominees unless there is a wide gap between the films in fifth and sixth position.
  • A seventh nominee is allowed in cases where there is no perceivable difference in scores between the films in the sixth and seventh position. There is currently no possibility for an eighth nominee.
  • In the Audience Choice category, votes from the Nominations Committee will be tallied to come up with a longlist of between 15-20 film shortlist. This longlist will be announced prior to the full nominations announcement and voting will be opened to the public during an initial voting window. The 10 films with the highest vote total during this window will be later announced as the named nominees in the category.
  • In the Production category, nominated producers must have had a day-to-day creative role in the production of the film and have been involved from pre-production through post. A “Produced by” credit is required to be nominated in the Production category. A maximum of five (5) producers may be nominated per film.
  • In the Score category, films are required to have at least 51% of their music original and composed specifically for the film.
  • In the Visual Design category (previously named the Graphic Design and Animation category), films can submit up to three (3) individuals who made the biggest non-cinematography contributions to the aesthetic look of the film. This can include animation, graphic design, motion-driven title design or art direction. There must be a minimum of two cumulative minutes of original visual design to be eligible for this award. Lower thirds do not count toward the two minute minimum.
  • In the Debut category, films are required to be the first feature-length (longer than 50 minutes) nonfiction or fiction film that was directed by anyone credited as a director on the project.
  • In the Spotlight category, Nominations Committee members are free to vote for films whether they have qualified for other feature film categories or not. They are asked to vote for films that have yet to receive proper attention in North America, have not been widely released in theaters and are from filmmakers who are in the early part of their career, from whom they would like to see more. Nominees may not have previously been nominated for Cinema Eye. The winner is chosen by jury.
  • Winners are chosen by votes of our general voting body, which consists of more than 1000 members of the documentary and filmmaking community. Some categories may be chosen by jury.
  • In the Audience Choice category, the winner is chosen by online voting open to the public.

NOTE: In all categories where the award goes to a specific craftsperson, the film must have (an) individual(s) credited with that specific role. This includes a credited director in the categories of Direction, Debut, Spotlight or Audience Choice. A film without a credited director may be nominated for Outstanding Feature and the nominees would be the film’s producers.

Short Film Eligibility

Updated for 2023

Films must be 40 minutes or less and become eligible by fulfilling one of the following four requirements:

  1. Selected to screen at least one international film festival, no matter whether those film festivals were in person or virtual. Examples of international film festivals include: AFI FEST, Ambulante, Antenna, Ashland, Aspen, Berlin, Blackstar, Camden, Cannes, Cinéma du Réel, CPH:DOX, Dallas, DC/DOX, Denver, DocAviv, Doc Edge New Zealand, DOC NYC, Docs Against Gravity, DOK Leipzig, Dokufest Kosovo, DOXA Vancouver, Edinburgh, Guangzhou, Hamptons, Hot Docs, IDFA, It’s All True, Jihlava, Karlovy Vary, Locarno, London, Melbourne, Miami, Montclair, New Directors/New Films, New York, Open City, Outfest, Palm Springs, Provincetown, RIDM, Rooftop Films Summer Series, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Sarasota, Seattle, Sheffield, Sundance, SXSW, Telluride, TIDE, Toronto, Traverse City, Tribeca, True/False, Venice, Visions du Réel or Yamagata.
  2. Has premiered or will premiere on a major streaming, broadcast or digital platform between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023,
  3. Has held or will hold public (non-festival) screenings in both New York and Los Angeles between January 1, 2023 and December 31. 2023.

NOTE: Films may only submit once for Cinema Eye Feature Honors. For example, if you submitted for the 2023 Honors because you were eligible via festival screenings, you cannot submit again this year even if you are eligible via theatrical release.

NOTE: Films that had a public screening prior to January 1, 2022 are not eligible, even if they had not previously submitted and meet the other eligibility requirements. If you premiered in 2022 but didn’t submit to Cinema Eye last year, you are eligible to submit for 2024.

Voting for Short Film Categories

Updated for 2023
  • Short film nominations committee members are asked to vote for their ten favorite films of the year from the list of submitted films, ranking films 1-10, with 1 being their favorite.  Films ranked first receive 10 points, second receive 9 points and so on.
  • Points from the nominations committee are totaled. The top ten films in point totals are named to our annual Shorts List, which is announced in the fall prior to the announcement of the 2023 Nominees. Films must receive votes from at least 30% of the members of the nominations committee in order to be named to the Shorts List and/or as a nominee.
  • If two films are tied in the 10th position, both would join the Shorts List.
  • If there is a points tie between three (or more) films in the 10th position, the two films with a higher vote total would be named to the Shorts List. If there was a tie between all three (or more) films in votes, the nominations committee would revote on their preferences for the three films.  The two highest scoring films would be included in the Shorts List. If another tie resulted, neither film would be added and there would be 9 films on the Shorts List.
  • Five nominees is a minimum number of nominees in this categories, but we default toward six nominees unless there is a wide gap between the films in fifth and sixth position.
  • The winner is chosen by votes of our general voting body.

NOTE: Films must have a credited director in order to be eligible for this award.

Broadcast Film Eligibility

Updated for 2025

Films are eligible if they fulfill all of the following criteria:

  1. Can be broadcast/streamed in 1 or 2 parts.
  2. Must have a total running time of more than 41 minutes.
  3. Must be broadcast/streamed between June 1, 2023 and July 10, 2024.
  4. Must be broadcast/streamed no later than 12 months after the film’s first public screening.
  5. Cannot have been nominated for any Cinema Eye Honor (including being an Honoree for Unforgettables or on the Shorts List) in a previous year.
NOTE: Named nominees in this category will be the Director(s) and the Network. The award will go to the Director(s). Films must have a credited director in order to be eligible.
NOTE: Single episodes of a documentary series are typically not eligible for the Broadcast Film Award. Please contact Cinema Eye with any questions.

Nonfiction Series Eligibility

Updated for 2025

The Nonfiction Series Honor is for a one-off series or a single season of an ongoing series where the series has a single, contained narrative that spans multiple episodes (examples: The Jinx, Making a Murderer, America to Me).

Series are eligible if they fulfill all of the following criteria:
  1. Consists of 3 parts or more and has a single, contained narrative that must be watched in order.
  2. All episodes/parts must be credited to the same director or directing team.
  3. The first part/episode of the Series must have been broadcast/streamed between June 1, 2023 and July 10, 2024 and no later than 12 months after its first public screening.

NOTE: Named nominees in this category will be the Director(s) and Network. Award will be presented to the Director(s). Films must have a credited director or directing team in order to be eligible.

Anthology Series Eligibility

Updated for 2025

The Anthology Series Honor is for a one-off series or a single season of an ongoing series where the series consists of individual thematic episodes that may be viewed individually or in any order (examples: Pretend It’s a City, Taste the Nation with Padma Lakshmi, The 1619 Project).

Anthology Series are eligible if they fulfill all of the following criteria:

  1. Consists of 3 parts or more.
  2. All episodes/parts must be credited to the same production team.
  3. The first part/episode of the Series must have been broadcast/streamed between June 1, 2023 and July 10, 2024 and no later than 12 months after its first public screening.
  4. Individual parts/episodes may be of any length, but the complete Series must have a total run time of 60 minutes or more.

NOTE: Named nominees in this category will be the day-to-day Executive Producer(s)/Showrunner(s) and Network. Award will be presented to the Executive Producer(s)/Showrunner(s).

Broadcast Nonfiction Awards Voting

Updated for 2025
  • The Broadcast Nominations Committee (made up of filmmakers, film programmers and critics/writers) view the submissions and submit votes for nomination.  The voting takes place over two rounds. 
  • Total points from the nominations committee are tallied. The films with the top point totals are named nominees. Five nominees is a minimum number of nominees in most categories, but we default toward six nominees unless there is a wide points gap between the films/series in fifth and sixth position.
  • A seventh nominee is allowed in cases where there is no perceivable difference in scores between the films in the sixth and seventh position. There is currently no possibility for an eighth nominee.
  • In the Broadcast Editing and Broadcast Cinematography categories, the named nominees would be those craftspersons responsible for the episodes that were submitted to the nominations committee for consideration. Nominees must have an onscreen credit in those episodes. A maximum of four editors and five cinematographers may be nominated for a film or series. 
  • The winner is the top points getter of the Broadcast nominations committee across both rounds. In case of a tie in points, a tie is declared in the category. Cinema Eye Core Team members do not vote.

NOTE: Films may not be nominated in corresponding craft categories (for example, a film cannot be nominated for Broadcast Editing and Nonfiction Feature Editing). In the case where a film receives votes that would make it a possible nominee in both, the film will be nominated in the category where it has the most possible nominations, with deference to the Nonfiction Feature categories.

Heterodox

Updated for 2024
  • Nominations committee members and other invited experts are asked to vote for 5 fiction films that use nonfiction means or style, ranking films 1-5, with 1 being their favorite. Films ranked first receive 5 points, second receive 4 points and so on.
  • The top five point totals will be the named nominees in the category
  • For rules regarding when a sixth film is named a nominee, see Feature rules above.
  • The winner is the top points getter of the nominators for this category.
  • In case of a tie in points, a tie is declared in the category.

Legacy/Hell Yeah

Updated for 2024
  • Nominations committee members and other invited experts are invited to nominate classic nonfiction films that continue to inspire the work of this year’s filmmakers for the Legacy Award as well as current/recent films that have had “significant, demonstrable real world impact” for recognition for the Hell Yeah Prize.
  • For the Legacy Award, films that have been released during the last 10 years are not eligible.
  • From this list, the Cinema Eye Core Team selects a recipient of the Legacy Award and, when appropriate, a recipient of the Hell Yeah Prize.
  • The winning film(s) is/are announced in advance.

Unforgettables for 2024

Updated for 2024
  • Feature Film Nominations Committee Members are asked to vote for up to 10 notable or significant nonfiction film subjects from the list of All nominators are asked to nominate subjects by name or to provide a detailed description of their choice. Points are awarded by rank as in other Cinema Eye categories.
  • Subjects from 15 films are selected as Unforgettables. If more than one subject from a single film receives enough votes to be ranked amongst the top 15 vote recipients, each of the subjects will be named as Unforgettables. A 16th film cannot be named in this category. If there is a tie in the 15th position, the film with the higher number of overall votes is named to the Unforgettables.  If there is tie in vote as well, then the film with the higher number of votes from the Nominating Committee is named to the Unforgettables.
  • Only those subjects specifically named by nominators may be included as named Unforgettables.

Recusal of Core Team, Nominations Committee and Advisory Board

Updated for 2025

NOTE: Recusal rules apply to all categories (i.e. Feature, Short, Broadcast, Heterodox)

If a member of the Cinema Eye Nominating Committees or Advisory Board/Kitchen Cabinet fulfills a key creative (Director, Producer, Executive Producer, Editor, Cinematographer, Composer, Graphic Designer) or distribution role on a film being submitted for a nomination, they must recuse themselves from voting for nominations in that year in the corresponding categories (Feature, Short or Broadcast) or from any role in overseeing or tabulating the voting process. They may still vote for the award winner.
Films directed by a member of the Cinema Eye Core Team (Week Co-Chairs, Managing Director, Founding Director) are not eligible for Cinema Eye Honors in categories where the Core Team member is the named nominee. Other non-Cinema Eye Production Team members of the film’s creative team are eligible in those categories. Films and Series are eligible if a member of the Cinema Production Team fulfills a different creative role (e.g. Producer, Executive Producer, Editor), however the Cinema Eye Production Team member shall not be eligible for any awards they may be considered for (for example, if a Cinema Eye Production Team member was the sole editor on a film, that film is eligible in all categories aside from editing; if a Cinema Eye Production Team member is one of several editors on a film, that film is eligible in the editing category, but the Production Team member may not be a named nominee).
Films directed by a member of the Cinema Eye Core Team (Week Co-Chairs, Managing Director, Founding Director) are not eligible for Cinema Eye Honors in categories where the Core Team member is the named nominee. Other non-Cinema Eye Production Team members of the film’s creative team are eligible in those categories. Films and Series are eligible if a member of the Cinema Production Team fulfills a different creative role (e.g. Producer, Executive Producer, Editor), however the Cinema Eye Production Team member shall not be eligible for any awards they may be considered for (for example, if a Cinema Eye Production Team member was the sole editor on a film, that film is eligible in all categories aside from editing; if a Cinema Eye Production Team member is one of several editors on a film, that film is eligible in the editing category, but the Production Team member may not be a named nominee).
Films directed by Board Co-Chairs, Advisory Board/Kitchen Cabinet members, Nominating Committee and Production Team members are eligible in all categories, provided individuals recuse themselves in years when their films are eligible as stipulated above.

For background on who votes for Cinema Eye, you can find a full list of Nominations Committee Members for the 2023 Cinema Eye Honors on our About and FAQ page.