Criteria for selecting Screendance works at festivals

Here are some ideas for selection criteria that were developed by AFDA (South African School of Motion Picture), and used in student film evaluations. I have developed them further for use in Screendance evaluations.  The selection committee will also be using them to evaluate and select the top 10, the overall winner and the runner up for 60seconds. 


Perhaps some could be adopted and/or amended and used by selection committees.

So far the screendance maker has no means to view any criteria. Can we not publish these online each time there is a call?

Criteria for judging dance videos/films 2011 

Theme: sted/place


The most important criteria: creativity and originality, amplifying the intention, the choreography of movement, adaptation of movement to the camera, the movement of the camera, the rhythm of the edit, the narrative – linear or poetic, the location, costume, objects, set, overall aesthetic “look and feel”, sounds and music used to amplify the notion of “place” or “sted”. We will look out for how “place” or “sted” is translated with kineasthetic and visceral impact, immediately translated and understood by the viewer. We will also take into consideration if the screendance maker has fulfilled all the competition rules and requirements. 


The above was published online at


Below are the judges criteria, not published. 


Headings from AFDA™

NARRATIVE: Intention, Idea, Concept, Event Progression, Narrative Progression

PERFORMANCE: Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, Emotional and Physical

MEDIUM: Lighting, Camera work, Movement/Camera/Affordances, Edit

AESTHETICS: Look and feel, Locations, Set, Costumes, Art, Design

CONTROL: Marketing, Management, Finance and Law



Does it reveal/express/explore sted / a place, what, where?

Is this place/intention clear?
The Idea / Concept / Place – originality?

Does the idea come through in 60seconds?

Does every frame speak to/about the intention? Or place?

Structure / Event Progression - Beg/Middle/End is this clear?

Does it tell “a story”?

Simplicity/Complexity in narrative?



Empathetic impact on viewer  -  emotional and kineasthetic impact?

Is the emotional tone clearly amplified by the performance?

Is there a visceral impact on the viewer?

Do the performers erformance relate to the place & intention?

Are the performers using the environment to shape their character and movement?

How is the environment used by the dance/dancers?

Are the affordances, the choreography within the location amplifying the


Performers relation to the camera?



Style of delivery

Choreography -  use of affordances, intention & place to shape choreography, use of medium/camera to shape choreography, re-adaptation to the camera

Dance style/genre  - what type is used to support the intention? Dance style – pedestrian, dance for the camera, adapted to the camera…


Camera work or recording of the image

Camera operation and movement

Adaptation of movement/choreography to the medium/camera

Are affordances shaping the choreography & affecting the choice of shots? 

Is it challenging the use of the camera?

Choice of shots and Angles

Handheld / locked off, Dogmatic / Cinematic Experimental / Traditional

Quality of shoot HD / DVPAL

Lighting design

Composition of the shots - adaptation of movement/choreography to the medium/camera

How is the environment used?

Is it shaping the composition of the shots?

Edit / Post production

De-Interlaced/ Compressed

The edit: cuts, rhythm, pace, timing, movement through the shots

Linear or Vertical Montage – fragmented/multi-threading/looping narratives  Repetition in edit: predictable and/or unpredictable



Special Effects 

Poetic amplification

Text - spoken/sub-titles/text

Sounds – Diegetic or no sound from set? Music  - composed or not?



General “look and feel”

The world of the narrative and character – clearly defined?

The visual form of the narrative clearly defined?

Design Fabrication?

Structuring and manipulation of the design

Location or set and use of it





All documents signed, scanned and submitted on time. Not doing so means disqualification.  

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  • Thanks for sharing this, I think it's a great idea to be more transparent about our evaluative criteria with filmmakers. It's also good for all presenters to get clear how they are evaluating submissions, as we all know how much gray area there is when we start to evaluate art and aesthetics.
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