Allan King Memorial Award

About the Award:

The Allan King Memorial Award is a one-time award to be given to a young documentary filmmaker who embodies Allan’s philosophy that filmmakers should be fearless, free-thinking and independent. This award marks the 10th anniversary of Allan’s passing and will not only honour Allan’s contributions to the genre of documentary but celebrate a new generation of talented filmmakers.

The award will be presented at the DOC AGM in Toronto, Ontario in May 2019 and the winner will be awarded $4,000. This award is made possible by a donation from Allan’s widow, Colleen Murphy.


"He was unusual in treating his subjects as collaborators, developing relationships before the cameras ever rolled. His films are notable for their intense empathy and a kind of experimental boundary-pushing into the extremes of how and why we behave the way we do.” – Lacey, Liam. "Allan King: a filmmaker of intense empathy." The Globe and Mail, June 16, 2009


Allan King was a pioneer with a vision, who forged a new path in the field of documentary film and became one of Canada’s most beloved filmmakers.  His work sat deeply with audiences, exposing them to the rawness of the human condition. He explored intimate connections between people; uncovering what makes us unique and what binds us together in the spaces and experiences we share.


“I’ve always been interested in politics and social issues since I was a little kid. I was a debater from the age of 10 on. I led my first strike when I was 17 and led another walkout in a logging camp when I was 19 or 20. I’ve always been involved in, and concerned, about social issues. The central theme for me is: how do you make life better, personally and socially?” King, Allan. (2007) "The POV Interview: Allan King, The King of Verité." Interviewed by Marc Glassman. POV Point of View Magazine, 1 February 


For over fifty years Allan made films using a compassionate and distinct style he called actuality drama. The purpose of this style of work was to film the drama of everyday life as it happens. His films like Warrendale, A Married Couple, Dying at Grace, Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and Company, Come on Children, to name but a few, illuminated the complexities of human behaviour.

Retrospectives of his work have been shown all over the world and in 2002 Allan was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In June 2008 he was inducted into the Canadian Film and Television Hall of Fame and was also awarded the Dragon of Dragons Prize for lifetime achievement at the Krakow Film festival in Poland.

Film editor, Nick Hector, Allan King’s long time collaborator, describes working with Allan as, “being given more freedom than I have ever experienced working on a film. He paints a picture of the idea he wants you to explore and gives you complete freedom within the parameters of that picture he has drawn”. The framework of this award is built around Allan’s name, work, and legacy, but we want applicants to tell us their unique vision for their film. This award will celebrate a filmmaker who, like Allan, takes an exploratory approach to documentary filmmaking by pushing the boundaries within the industry.


"There are few filmmakers whose impact has been central to the medium but Allan King is unquestionably one of them," Handling, Piers. (2009) as cited in "Canadian documentary maker Allan King dies at 79." CBC Canadian Broadcasting Coporation, 15 June



Criteria for the Application: 

Eligibility: A Canadian documentary filmmaker under the age of 35

*Does not need to be a current DOC Member

Section 1: Film Submission

  • Submit one documentary film project of any length — no restrictions
  • No prerequisites on CV-this can be your first film
  • Films can be submitted in English and French
  • One film as a submission per person but we will also allow films still in production*                                                              *Ex. Still a ‘work-in-progress’


Section 2: Case for Support

Please answer the following question based on the film you have submitted:

How would you describe your philosophy for approaching the medium of documentary film and how is this story/subject different from what has been told/shown in the past?  

  • 1000 word maximum response to the question
  • The application will be open across Canada and arrangements will be made to get the winner to the AGM in Ontario to accept the award
  • Video submissions accepted for answering the above question
    • The answer to the question cannot be longer than 2 minutes


Where to Submit:

Submissions for the Allan King Memorial Award are open from:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019 – Friday, March 22, 2019.

Please email submissions to Christine Ciuciura at

Submissions should include:

  • Section 1: A Vimeo or YouTube link (with a password if necessary) to the film you wish to submit
  • Section 2: Written OR video response to Case for Support