Submissions for the 2024 Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film opened on February 15 at 12:00 am ET and closed on May 1 at 11:59 pm ET. Submissions for 2025 will open early next year. 

Photo: Jonathan Lavine, Dr. Carla Hayden, Ken Burns, Director Nicole London, The Disappearance of Miss Scott

Does your film qualify?

The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film (Prize for Film) accepts films that focus on an American historical subject, issue, or person within a time frame occurring at least twenty years prior to submission that present a variety of perspectives grounded in extensive and thorough research. The majority of the film must be historically focused to qualify. Please review the complete Eligibility and Application Requirements here.

Library of COngress - Lavine / Ken Burns Prize for Film Logo

A National Prize for U.S. History Documentary Filmmaking

The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film is an annual national prize that provides recognition and resources for exemplary documentary films that tell compelling stories about American history. In 2019, the Library of Congress and The Better Angels Society, a national nonprofit dedicated to engaging Americans with their history through documentary film, created this prize to support enduring educational assets for all Americans. The Prize for Film celebrates the proven power of documentary films to bring people together as they explore our shared history and engage in civic dialogue. 

Bestowed annually by the Librarian of Congress in partnership with The Better Angels Society, a cash prize of $200,000 is awarded to one winner, a secondary prize of $50,000 to one runner-up, and $25,000 to each of four finalists. 

Dr. Carla Hayden, the 14th Librarian of Congress, chairs a National Jury of esteemed scholars, filmmakers, and storytellers who narrow the selections. Dr. Hayden then selects the winner each year in consultation with renowned filmmaker Ken Burns. Over more than forty years of filmmaking, Burns has made immense contributions to our collective understanding of American history, and his inclusive and engaging storytelling encourages us to find common ground as we explore the lessons of our past. The Prize for Film joins other awards bestowed by the Library of Congress, including the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, the Prize for American Fiction, and the Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity.

Core underwriting for The Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film is made possible by a generous donation from Jeannie and Jonathan Lavine through the Crimson Lion/Lavine Family Foundation, which supports organizations that strengthen society through education, research, innovation, public policy, direct service, and advocacy. Additional funding is provided by The Better Angels Society. All applicants to the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film will be automatically considered for The Better Angels Lavine Fellowship

Winners and Finalists

2024 National Jury

Dr. Carla Hayden – CHAIR

Julianna Brannum

Jacqueline Glover

Professor Annette Gordon-Reed

Dr. David G. Gutiérrez

Sam Pollard

Dr. Claudio Saunt

Betsy West

2023 Honorary Committee (the 2024 Honorary Committee will be announced soon)

The Honorary Committee is a distinguished group of thought leaders drawn from all corners of the media and cultural landscape, united by a common interest in supporting work that highlights our country’s history through documentary film. The members of the Honorary Committee each have large and unique spheres of influence that help spread the mission of the Library of Congress Lavine/Ken Burns Prize for Film, making them a vital part of the Prize community. The members of the 2023 Honorary Committee represent a varied cross-section of our nation’s culture, including the written word, music, film, historiography, and news media.

Richard Blanco

Patricia Cardoso

Dr. Rebecca Erbelding 

Christopher John Farley

Kahlil Greene

Dr. Claudrena Harold

Patricia de Stacy Harrison

Dr. Stephanie Jones-Rogers

Michiko Kakutani

Paula Kerger

Wynton Marsalis

Sharon Rockefeller

Luis Antonio Ubiñas

Ilyon Woo