The National Film Awards is the most prominent film award ceremonies in India. Established in 1954, it has been administered, along with the International Film Festival of India and the Indian Panorama, by the Indian government's Directorate of Film Festivals since 1973. Every year, a national panel appointed by the government selects the winning entry, and the award ceremony is held in New Delhi, where the President of India presents the awards. This is followed by the inauguration of the National Film Festival, where the award-winning films are screened for the public. Declared for films produced in the previous year across the country, they hold the distinction of awarding merit to the best of Indian cinema overall, as well as presenting awards for the best films in each region and language of the country. Due to the national scale of the National Film Awards, it is considered the Indian equivalent of the American Academy Awards. The National Film Awards are presented in two main categories: Feature Films and Non-Feature Films. The juries are appointed by the Directorate of Film Festivals in India. Neither the Government nor the Directorate have influence over which films are selected for consideration and which films ultimately win awards. There are strict criteria as to whether a film is eligible for consideration by the jury panels. Over 100 films made across the country are entered in each category (Feature and Non-Feature) for the awards and deemed eligible each year.
A list of rules is presented every year in a document of regulations known as the National Film Award Regulations. The criteria for eligibility contains many clauses. Among them, there is a direct requirement for the makers of a film, and particularly the director, to be Indian nationals. Films entering the competition should be produced in India, and in case of co-production involving a foreign entity, there are as many as six conditions which should be fulfilled in order for the film to qualify. According to the criteria, in order to be eligible for consideration of the jury, a film should be certified by the Central Board of Film Certification between 1 January and 31 December. Whether a film is considered a feature film or a non-feature film shall be decided by the Feature Film jury. The eligibility list includes a section of rules determining which films shall not be eligible for entry in the competition.