Best Documentary: Non-English Language

The Best Documentary: Non-English Language Award (BDNEL) is a category dedicated to celebrating and promoting outstanding audio work produced in languages other than English, from anywhere in the world.

While entries in non-English languages may be considered for other categories too, this category remains a place to specifically award a single excellent work in a language other than English. We believe in actively encouraging work in all languages, and strive to bring in a greater breadth of work from underrepresented languages across all categories in our Competition.

For Entrants: the 2023-24 Call for Entries is launching soon!

The week of December 4, 2023, we'll open up our 2023-24 Call for Entries, a unique dialogue between Third Coast and the diverse communities of people making this work around the world.

Everyone, everywhere, is invited to enter audio works across formats & in any language. Our goal is to create a different kind of backbone for the industry – inciting dialogue, experimentation, and new critical new opportunities in audio. This year, that will include offerings like: more Award-Winners & Finalists than ever before, an expanded Feedback Initiative, new discounts for self-funded entrants, and more new programs from Third Coast spotlighting outstanding makers from the field.

We'll be updating all Competition-related pages for the 2023-24 Call for Entries launch, including this one. For now, feel free to read through the Best Documentary: Non-English Langauge category page from the 2022-23 Competition Cycle. Make sure to also check out the Third Coast/RHDF Competition Showcase, featuring our 2022-23 Winners, Finalists & Judges.)


Created in 2016, the Best Documentary: Non-English Language (BDNEL) category seeks to honor outstanding work made in all languages other than English. There is one Award-winner in this category, honored with a cash prize, unique physical award, and recognition around the world, including a public showcase of comments from the judges. We now offer a list of Third Coast Finalists in this category, announced alongside Award-Winners.

This year, we’re excited to announce a new Pilot Offering that serves all entrants of the BDNEL category: access to our lowest rates through the Late Deadline of March 10. More information about this Pilot Offering is included below, and on the 2022-23 Entry Form.

Learn more about all of our Competition Offerings, and share your input to help us expand them in the future.

Please note: The 2022-23 Call for Entries closed on March 10, 2023.

2022-23 Eligibility Information
  • Length: Standalone pieces between 0-75 minutes, as well as serialized stories containing multiple episodes that, in combination, add up to between 75 minutes-15 hours. Pieces eligible for Audio Unbound may also be considered in this category.
  • Publication: Must have been published between September 1, 2020 and March 10, 2023.
  • Format: One single audio file. All advertisements or sponsorship segments must be removed from the audio file — this includes previews for upcoming episodes of this or other programs.
  • Language: Must be in a language other than English.

2022-23 Pilot Offering: Lower Rates for Non-English Language Entries

It can be expensive and time-consuming to produce English-language translations for work published in any other language. That’s why we didn't raise our rates for any entries not in English throughout the deadlines. In other words, while rates for pieces made in English increased after our Early Deadline, rates for work made primarily in a language other than English remained unchanged throughout the entire Call for Entries. All entrants in the BD:NEL category are automatically eligible for these unchanged rates.

2022-23 Entry Rates

As always, our entry rates were most affordable before our Early Deadline. If you’re interested in learning more about rates for the 2022-23 Third Coast/RHDF Competition, check out our complete breakdown of sliding scale rates across all categories.

Note: As a Pilot Offering this year, we honored our Early Deadline rates through the Final Deadline for all non-English Language entries in any category.

Each year, our rates are shaped by our Collective Pricing philosophy, which distributes cost according to entrants’ access to resources.

2022-23 Entry Checklist
  • Audio file (mp3 preferred, .wav also accepted) with all ads removed
  • Total length of the entry (Minutes:Seconds)
  • Link to a published version of the story
  • Full credits (host, producer, sound designer, editor, etc.)
  • Description/summary of your entry (150 words or fewer preferred)
  • Translated transcript, with regular time codes and page numbers. You may additionally submit a transcript in the original language, but it is not required.

Best Documentary: Non-English Language FAQ

Can I enter other categories too?

  • Yes. There are no language requirements on any other categories, so as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria, you are welcome to submit this entry into multiple categories.

How should I format the transcript?

  • All entries meant to be heard and understood in a language other than English must be accompanied by one easy-to-read PDF transcript in English. An original-language transcript is also welcome, but not required. The transcript should include: Regular time codes (at least one per page); Non-verbal cues such as music, sounds or effects (when possible); Page numbers. See an example transcript here. (Note: We love the artful elements of the cover page of this transcript, but that’s not a requirement for this category.)

The entry I’d like to submit is made in more than one language. Does it qualify for this category?

  • Yes, bilingual or multilingual entries are eligible for this category, so long as English is not the primary language used in the work.

Can I submit a video with English-language subtitles in addition to transcripts of the piece?

  • Yes, we love subtitled videos! Please include the link in the "Entry Summary." Alternately, if you run out of space in the Entry Summary, you can add a page or paragraph to your transcript PDF with a link to the video, or you are welcome to send us the video directly via a file sharing service like WeTransfer or Dropbox to

Previous Winners

Interested in hearing pieces that have won this category in prior years? Click on the play button button next to some of our most recent winners below.

Los Cassettes del Exilio

For much of Dennis Maxwell’s childhood, his father was living in exile, communicating with the family via cassette tapes.