By Ray Pride

The Cinema Eye Honors Go To…

Yance Ford’s Exploration into the Death of His Brother Wins Feature, Direction & Debut. Brett Morgen’s Portrait of Jane Goodall Receives Audience and Score PrizesQuest, Last Men in Aleppo, Chasing Coral, Long Strange Trip, Icarus, The Keepers &Rabbit Hunt Among Award Winners
January 11, 2018, Astoria, Queens, New York – Strong Island, filmmaker Yance Ford’s decade-long examination into the murder of his brother William Ford and the effect of the crime on his family, won three major awards at the 11th Annual Cinema Eye Honors tonight, including Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Debut and Outstanding Nonfiction Feature Film. It’s the first time in Cinema Eye history that a debut film won the award for Outstanding Direction and Ford joins a select group of filmmakers to win three Honors in a single year.
Brett Morgen’s Jane, a portrait of primatologist, activist and scientist Dr. Jane Goodall, won two awards: the Audience Choice Prize , taking top position in the votes of more than 15,000 members of the public, as well as Outstanding Score for composer Philip Glass.
‘The prize for Outstanding Editing went to Lindsay Utz, for her work on Jonathan Olshefski’s Quest, a multi-year portrait of a North Philadelphia family.
In addition to Strong Island and Jane, four other films on the Motion Picture Academy’s Shortlist for Feature Documentary received awards:
Kareem Abeed, Stefan Kloos and Soren Steen Jespersen won Outstanding Production for Last Men in Aleppo; Andrew Ackerman and Jeff Orlowski won Outstanding Cinematography for Chasing Coral; and Stefan adelman won Outstanding Graphic Design for Long Strange Trip.
At a ceremony in Manhattan on Wednesday, director Bryan Fogel and producer Dan Cogan were presented with the Hell Yeah Prize for Icarus.
This is the second Cinema Eye Honor for Jeff Orlowski, who won previously for Cinematography for Chasing Ice, and for Stefan Nadelman, who won for Kurt Cobain Montage of Heck ’s Graphic Design.
Patrick Bresnan’s The Rabbit Hunt won the award for Outstanding Nonfiction Short, while Ryan White’s The Keepers (Netflix) took the prize for Outstanding Nonfiction Filmmaking for Broadcast or Streaming. The winner of the Spotlight Award was Gustavo Salmerón for
Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle.
Netflix received more awards than any other distributor, winning a total of 6 awards. At a lunch Wednesday in Manhattan, this year’s Heterodox Award, given to films that provocatively expand the blurry line between fiction and nonfiction, was presented to Sean Baker’s The Florida Project and the Legacy Award was given to Leon Gast for his classic film, When We Were Kings.
The 11th Annual Cinema Eye Honors were presented at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens and were streamed live via the Museum of the Moving Image and Cinema Eye Facebook pages. Filmmaker Steve James, recently named a DGA nominee for his latest film Abacus: Small Enough to Jail, was the host. Presenters included Sheila Nevins, Roger Ross Williams, Julie Goldman, Josh and Benny Safdie, Marilyn Ness, Nanette Burstein, Kirsten Johnson, Nathan Truesdell, Amir Bar-Lev, Kelli Scarr, Brett Morgen and Nanfu Wang.
The Awards Ceremony capped a week of events that brought together nonfiction filmmakers from around the globe. Cinema Eye was founded in 2007 as a protest of that year’s existing awards which had failed to recognize many of the year’s top artistic achievements. In the decade since, Cinema Eye has become one of the largest international gatherings of nonfiction filmmakers and craftspersons. Cinema Eye was the first organization to present an award for Production, Cinematography, Original Score and Graphic Design in Nonfiction Film, and the first, aside from the guilds, to recognize Direction and Editing.
A full list of Cinema Eye winners follows
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking
Strong Island
Directed by Yance Ford
Produced by Joslyn Barnes and Yance Ford
Outstanding Achievement in Direction
Yance Ford
Strong Island
Outstanding Achievement in Editing
Lindsay Utz
Outstanding Achievement in Production
Kareem Abeed, Stefan Kloos and Søren Steen Jespersen
Last Men in Aleppo
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Andrew Ackerman and Jeff Orlowski
Chasing Coral
Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Score
Philip Glass
Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation
Stefan Nadelman
Long Strange Trip
Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film
Strong Island
Directed by Yance Ford
Audience Choice Prize
Directed by Brett Morgen
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Films Made for Television
The Keepers
Directed by Ryan White
For Netflix: Ben Cotner, Jason Spingarn-Koff and Lisa Nishimura
Spotlight Award
Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle
Directed by Gustavo Salmerón
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking
The Rabbit Hunt
Directed by Patrick Bresnan
Heterodox Award
The Florida Project
Directed by Sean Baker
Legacy Award
When We Were Kings
Directed by Leon Gast
Hell Yeah Prize
Directed by Bryan Fogel
About Cinema Eye, Cinema Eye Week and the 2018 Cinema Eye Honors
The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking were founded in late 2007 to recognize and honor exemplary craft and innovation in nonfiction film. Cinema Eye’s mission is and has been to advocate for, recognize and promote the highest commitment to rigor and artistry in the nonfiction field.
The Honors ceremony is the culmination of Cinema Eye Week, a multi-day celebration that acknowledges the best work in nonfiction film through screenings and events. The final four days of Cinema Eye Week culminated in New York City, where a series of celebratory events brought together many of the year’s most accomplished filmmakers.
The Premiere Sponsor for the Cinema Eye Honors Award Ceremony is HBO Documentary Films. Netflix, A&E IndieFilms, National Geographic Documentary Films, Camden International Film Festival and Amazon Studios are Major Sponsors. The Museum of the Moving Image is the Venue Partner. Contributing Sponsors include The Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri, LEF Foundation, POV, American Cinema Editors, CPH:DOX, Spacestation and Vidiots Foundation.
Cinema Eye is headed by a core team that includes Board Chairs Marshall Curry (director, Street Fight and Point and Shoot ) and Dawn Porter (director, Gideon’s Army and Trapped ), Cinema Eye Week Co-Chairs Wendy Garrett and Nathan Truesdell (director, Balloonfest and producer, We Always Lie to Strangers ), Nomination Committee Chairs Ben Fowlie (Camden International Film Festival) and Rachel Rosen (SFFILM), Managing Director Will Lennon (producer, Speaking Is Difficult) and Founding Director AJ Schnack (director, Caucus and Kurt Cobain About A Son).
Nominees for the Cinema Eye Honors nonfiction feature awards are determined in voting by the top documentary programmers from throughout the world. This year’s nominations committee included Chris Boeckman (True/False) , Pamela Cohn (Dokufest Kosovo), David Courier (Sundance), Cara Cusumano (Tribeca), Bruno Dequen (RIDM), Feature Nominations Committee Chair Ben Fowlie (Camden), Tom Hall (Montclair), Sarah Harris (Dallas), Lane Kneedler (AFI Fest), Jim Kolmar (SXSW), Amir Labaki (It’s All True), Artur Liebhart (Docs Against Gravity), Mads Mikkelsen (CPH:DOX), Meghan Monsour (Ambulante), Luke Moody (Sheffield Doc/Fest), David Nugent (Hamptons), Veton Nurkollari (Dokufest Kosovo), Janet Pierson (SXSW), Thom Powers (Toronto), Rachel Rosen (San Francisco), Shane Smith (Hot Docs), Martijn te Pas (IDFA), Sadie Tillery (Full Frame), Basil Tsiokos (DOC NYC), David Wilson (True/False) and Jenn Wilson (Los Angeles).
Nominees for the Cinema Eye Honors short film awards were selected by a nominations committee that included Chris Boeckman (True/False), Ben Fowlie (Camden International Film Festival), Claudette Godfrey (SXSW), Jasper Hokken (IDFA), Doug Jones (Images Cinema), Luke Moody (Sheffield Doc/Fest), Ted Mott (Full Frame), Jenn Murphy (AFI FEST), Veton Nurkollari (DokuFest Kosovo), Dan Nuxoll (Rooftop Films), Mike Plante (Sundance), Shorts Chair Rachel Rosen (SFFILM), Shane Smith (Hot Docs) and Kim Yutani (Sundance).
Nominees for the Television Award were selected in a two rounds of voting. The first round consisted of programmers that included Joanne Feinberg (FeinFilm), Elena Fortes (formerly Ambulante), Tom Hall (Montclair), Sarah Harris (Dallas), Doug Jones (Images Cinema), Lane Kneedler (AFI FEST), Andrew Rodgers (Denver) and Sky Sitney (Double Exposure). The second round included film critics and writers Paula Bernstein, Steve Dollar, Bilge Ebiri, Kate Erbland, Eric Hynes, Sheri Linden, Liz Shannon Miller and Mark Olsen.
Finalists for the Heterodox Award were selected in voting by the Cinema Eye Honors Nominations Committee. The finalists were then viewed and five nominees and one winner were selected by a second round committee, composed of filmmakers, programmers and journalists, including Eric Allen Hatch (Director of Programming, Maryland Film Festival) , Anna Rose Holmer (director, The Fits ), Eric Hynes (Associate Curator of Film, Museum of the Moving Image), Rachel Jacobson (Executive Director, Film Streams), Doug Jones ( Executive Director, Images Cinema), Mads Mikkelsen (Programmer, CPH:DOX), Aliza Ma (Head of Programming, Metrograph), Rachael Rakes (Programmer at Large, Art of the Real) and Alison Willmore (Film Critic, Buzzfeed).
The nominees for the Spotlight Award were selected in two rounds of voting by the Cinema Eye Honors Nominations Committee. The Spotlight Award Jury watched the six nominees and selected a winner. The jury was comprised of filmmakers and programmers Elizabeth Lo, Maggie Mackay, Eileen Meyer, Joe Peeler and Mike Plante.
Nominees for the Legacy Award were put forward by the Cinema Eye Honors Kitchen Cabinet, a 30-member advisory board featuring individuals representing all filmmaking crafts. The Cinema Eye Core Team selected a recipient from these nominations. The Hell Yeah Prize was determined by the Cinema Eye Core Team.

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“Roger Ebert claimed that the re-editing of The Brown Bunny after Cannes allowed him a difference of opinion so vast that he first called it the worst film in history and eventually gave it a thumbs up. This is both far fetched and an outright lie. The truth is, unlike the many claims that the unfinished film that showed at Cannes was 24 minutes shorter than the finished film, it was only 8 minutes shorter. The running time I filled out on the Cannes submission form was arbitrary. The running time I chose was just a number I liked. I had no idea where in the process I would actually be when I needed to stop cutting to meet the screening deadline. So whatever running time was printed in the program, I promise you, was not the actual running time. And the cuts I made to finish the film after Cannes were not many. I shortened the opening race scene once I was able to do so digitally. After rewatching the last 4 minutes of the film over and over again, somewhere within those 4 minutes, I froze the picture and just ended the film there, cutting out everything after that point, which was about 3 minutes. Originally in the salt flats scene, the motorcycle returned from the white. I removed the return portion of that shot, which seemed too literal. And I cut a scene of me putting on a sweater. That’s pretty much it. Plus the usual frame here, frame there, final tweaks. If you didn’t like the unfinished film at Cannes, you didn’t like the finished film, and vice versa. Roger Ebert made up his story and his premise because after calling my film literally the worst film ever made, he eventually realized it was not in his best interest to be stuck with that mantra. Stuck with a brutal, dismissive review of a film that other, more serious critics eventually felt differently about. He also took attention away from what he actually did at the press screening. It is outrageous that a single critic disrupted a press screening for a film chosen in main competition at such a high profile festival and even more outrageous that Ebert was ever allowed into another screening at Cannes. His ranting, moaning and eventual loud singing happened within the first 20 minutes, completely disrupting and manipulating the press screening of my film. Afterwards, at the first public screening, booing, laughing and hissing started during the open credits, even before the first scene of the film. The public, who had heard and read rumors about the Ebert incident and about me personally, heckled from frame one and never stopped. To make things weirder, I got a record-setting standing ovation from the supporters of the film who were trying to show up the distractors who had been disrupting the film. It was not the cut nor the film itself that drew blood. It was something suspicious about me. Something offensive to certain ideologues.”
~ Vincent Gallo

“I think [technology has[ its made my life faster, it’s made the ability to succeed easier. But has that made my life better? Is it better now than it was in the eighties or seventies? I don’t think we are happier. Maybe because I’m 55, I really am asking these questions… I really want to do meaningful things! This is also the time that I really want to focus on directing. I think that I will act less and less. I’ve been doing it for 52 years. It’s a long time to do one thing and I feel like there are a lot of stories that I got out of my system that I don’t need to tell anymore. I don’t need to ever do The Accused again! That is never going to happen again! You hit these milestones as an actor, and then you say, ‘Now what? Now what do I have to say?'”
~ Jodie Foster