The Mary Shelley Award

Other Worlds Austin (OWA) supports and encourages diversity in the film industry through programming content that embraces inclusiveness. From its very start, OWA has always had an equal number of female programmers as male programmers selecting the slate for the festival. As part of our continuing effort to discover and celebrate female voices working in the genre field, we are proud to feature the Mary Shelley Award, awarded to the artist (writer, director, or actress) whose film best furthers the involvement and representation of women in genre filmmaking. This award is sponsored by Canine Productions, producers of award winning indie shorts, music videos and documentaries.

"Beware; I am fearless, and therefore powerful" - Mary Shelley

"Beware; I am fearless, and therefore powerful" - Mary Shelley

Canine Productions is thrilled to sponsor the OWA Mary Shelly Award. “Filmmakers, like all artists, thrive when they are recognized and encouraged,” says Producer Ilona Rossman Ho. “We hope this award inspires women to continue to create worlds, imagine characters and share their vision. I want my children to see strong female protagonists as the norm not the exception.”

Science fiction is full of creativity and imagination, yet often lacking women both onscreen and behind the camera. A diversity gap study conducted in 2014 by writers Lee and Low of SciFi and Fantasy films in yearly and multi-year samplings indicated that only 12% of protagonists are women. This statistic isn’t surprising as it mirrors the Hollywood trend in general.

The Mary Shelley Award is named for the author of “Frankenstein,” the original SciFi novel – a work that examines the human condition and the positive and dangerous possibilities of science. The award will grant $500 to one film, either a short or a feature, already selected to play the Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival. Films must be entered into the Other Worlds Austin Film Competition through standard submission methods.

To qualify, the films must either:

            * Be written and/or directed by a female, or

            * Feature complex female protagonists driving the narrative and leading the action.

The award will be given to the female writer or director, or the actress in the protagonist role. Please note, this award is open to all female-identified filmmakers. Nominees from the year’s programming will be identified by the OWA programming team, and the winner will be determined by a special jury of female film industry professionals.

“The future is bright,” says OWA Founder and Artistic Director Bears Rebecca Fonté, “with films like Jennifer Phang’s thought-provoking ADVANTAGEOUS and Sarah Adina Smith’s evocative THE MIDNIGHT SWIM finding success on the festival circuit.  But anything we can do to focus the lens on these films and filmmakers is energy well spent to encourage women to work in the genre arena. And no one will argue when I remind that Sarah Connor is infinitely more interesting than Luke Skywalker as a character. She kicks ass and still manages to be a mother and a lover. I want to see SciFi reflect the values and issues we have in our society, and for that to really happen, we need more films written, directed and starring women. I am proud that Other Worlds Austin can help make that happen.”

2018 Winner: Stephanie Donnelly, THE ADVENTURES OF PENNY PATTERSON


2018 Jury: Melanie Addington, Executive Director of Oxford Film Festival, Lizzie Borden, Filmmaker (BORN IN FLAMES), Jacqueline Coley, Editor at Rotten Tomatoes 

2017 Winner: Rosita Lama Muvdi, LA SIRENA

2017 Jury: Claire Carré, writer/director/editor (and inaugural Mary Shelley Award Winner!), Denise Gossett, actress & founder of Shriekfest Film Festival, Alison Willmore, critic at BuzzFeed News


2016 Winner: Erin Li, KEPLER X-47

2016 Jury: Anne Chaisson, Executive Director Hamptons International Film Festival, Alysia Reiner, Producer/Founder Broad Street Picture (EQUITY - Sundance Jury award winner), actress (Orange in the New Black, SIDEWAYS, EQUITY), and Sarah Adina Smith, writer/director BUSTER’S MAL HEART, THE MIDNIGHT SWIM


2015 Winner: Claire Carré, EMBERS


2015 Jury: Marjorie Baumgarten, Film Critic and Senior Editor at the Austin Chronicle, and member of the Association of Women Film Journalists,  Kristy Breneman, Creative Director and Programmer for the Atlanta Film Festival, one of the largest and longest-running festivals in the country, and Mynette Louie, Independent Spirit Award-Winning Producer and President at Gamechanger Films, the first for-profit film fund dedicated exclusively to financing narrative features directed by women.


About Canine Productions

Award winning indie shorts, music videos and documentaries. We're enthusiastic about making a difference in how women and girls are portrayed in media. We actively support women in front of and behind the camera and the men who collaborate with them. Canine Productions is located in Seattle – home to outstanding indie filmmakers.