Recognizing Excellence in Caption Editing

Reel Words Subtitle and Caption Editing is offering this award of $500 as a way of encouraging filmmakers to adopt the best practices of captioning to make films accessible to more viewers.


Deaf, deafened, and hard-of-hearing users of cultural content are ill-served by unenforced standards of captioning in many countries, in part because the conventions of good captioning, particularly that of copy editing, are not taught to producers of video, film, and other visual online content. There is also evidence that use of captions by hearing viewers is also on the rise for various reasons. Please see the Guidelines, Terms, and Submit tabs for more details about the award submissions.


While Reel Words Subtitle and Caption Editing is a business, the award is a nonprofit endeavour to highlight the need for the standardized inclusion of edited captions, and to reward excellence in captioning by independent filmmakers, thereby encouraging an industry-wide adoption of captioning in all products. While many independent filmmakers state they cannot afford to include captions, there are government funding sources available to have them created by professionals. Production companies need to plan for spending a small percentage of their budget on making their products accessible—a practice that is sometimes upheld on paper but rarely enforced. The award’s purpose is to recognize excellence in captioning for accessibility; it does not judge the film’s acting, storyline, or cinematography, so the outcome of the jurying is in no way a reflection of the filmmaker’s abilities or artistic decisions.


The winner of the award will not only have demonstrated an understanding of and appreciation for making film available to all caption users, they will also have a notable addition to their CV. Making an excellent caption file available to film festivals may also increase chances of acceptance, viewing, and exposure. Most importantly, the winner will join us in raising awareness about the need and will influence other filmmakers to incorporate accessibility into the creative process, thereby helping to change the filmmaking process of the future.


The Reel Words Award is open to independent and emerging filmmakers anywhere. Filmmakers of all backgrounds and means are encouraged to submit, including students. (Unfortunately, those who are employees, contractors, vendors, volunteers, or family members connected to major movie, TV, or video-on-demand/streaming-service companies are not eligible to submit, however). Films need not have been made in 2018, but they must not have been released or broadcast with captions previously.

To Enter

Entry is by the Submit tab only. No emailed digital files, mailed flash drives, or shared links.


Submissions are welcome now until January 31, 2020. Entries will be reviewed in early 2020, and the winner will be notified by April and presented with the award at the ReelAbilities Film Festival Toronto in May/June 2020.