The awards were started in 1969. From 1969 to 1997, the awards were managed directly by the Department of Cultural Affairs, Government of Kerala. The awardees are decided by an independent jury formed by the academy and the Department of Cultural Affairs, Govt. of Kerala. The jury usually consists of eminent personalities from the film field. For the awards for literature on cinema a separate jury is formed. The academy annually invites films for the award and the jury analyses the films that are submitted before deciding the winners. The awards intends to promote films with artistic values and encourage artists, technicians and producers. The awards are declared by the Minister for Cultural Affairs and are presented by the Chief Minister of Kerala.
The number of awards varies from year to year, considering the changing scenario of motion picture arts within and outside the state of Kerala. The latest number of awards is over 30; the original number of awards in 1969 was 15.
J. C. Daniel Award (Lifetime Achievement Awards) for "outstanding contributions to Malayalam cinema".
Best Film: A cash award of Rs.100,000/-, a replica and a certificate to the producer. A cash award of Rs.40,000/-, a replica and a certificate to the director
Second Best Film: A cash award of Rs.60,000/-, a replica and a certificate to the producer. A cash award of Rs.30,000/-, a replica and a certificate to the director