movie awardsMaverick Movie Awards (MMA) is not a film festival—or at least not a traditional one. Filmmakers and fans don’t get together in a theater to watch movies. The festivities, such as they are, take place exclusively online. But this isn’t a cost-cutting measure; it’s one of the key ways the MMA judging panel stays anonymous—and objective.
As they make clear on their website, “Everyone involved in the MMA’s judging process has been a collaborator on a theatrically-released movie, a television or video release, or a top-ten film fest official selection.” But they keep their identities secret in order to “avoid retaliation on the World Wide Web from those whose work” they “‘fail’ to recognize.”

This sort of blind, deliberately de-politicized awards ceremony is rare—even unique—in the entertainment industry, and the response from moviemakers has been extremely supportive. As MMA nominee and Thriller! Chiller! International Film Festival Director A.E. Griffith puts it, “MMA is the Indie Spirit Awards of true indie filmmakers. The Oscars for actual ass kickers!”

In its fourth year, Maverick Movie Awards gave out 42 awards in 21 categories in 2012, including top honors to the documentary The Imposter (2012)—which was a Sundance Grand Jury Prize nominee last year, if you’re wondering about MMA’s pedigree. But they also honored a number of smaller-profile films. As the MMA co-director (who shall remain nameless, in accordance with his wishes) told MovieMaker recently, “By keeping the judging blind, we’re able to nominate an internationally reknowned film like The Imposter alongside a much more obscure Japanese film like The Undertaker—which might not have gotten any attention in America without us.”

MMA is gearing up for its fifth annual awards, and if you’re wondering if you should submit, the answer is: Yes! MMA celebrates big-budget pictures, low-budget indies, global issue documentaries, microcinema, music videos, webisodes, and everything in between. Each movie is judged as a whole, but also on the quality of its parts. So, in addition to standard award categories like Best Picture and Best Director, the MMA prides itself on saluting disciplines oft overlooked by festivals—including stunts, special effects makeup, and original music.

Submissions to the 5th Annual Maverick Movie Awards opened January 1st.