By Ray Pride

The Look of Silence Wins Three at 9th Annual Cinema Eye Honors

Joshua Oppenheimer’s Follow-Up to Act of Killing Named Outstanding Feature, Direction, Production

Amy’s Chris King Wins Unprecedented 3rd Prize for Editing

Meru Receives 2 / Cartel Land, Heart of a Dog, Montage of Heck and The Wolfpack all Win Awards


January 13, 2015, Astoria, Queens, New York – The Look of Silence was the big winner at the 9th Annual Cinema Eye Honors, taking home three awards, including Outstanding Nonfiction Feature, Outstanding Direction for Joshua Oppenheimer and Outstanding Production for Signe Byrge Sørensen.  It’s the first time in Cinema Eye history that filmmakers have won Outstanding Feature or Outsanding Production twice – Oppenheimer and Sørensen were honored in both categories for The Act of Killing in 2014.


Sørensen’s two trophies on Wednesday, combined with her two wins in 2014, tie her with Laura Poitras for most total awards in Cinema Eye history at four.


The editor Chris King also made Cinema Eye history on Wednesday, becoming the first person to win three awards in the same category.  His Editing Honor for Amy joins his previous awards for Exit Through the Gift Shop and Senna.


Meru, the mountain climbing epic directed by Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, took home two awards: Audience Choice and Cinematography.  The latter award was shared with Cartel Land cinematographers Matthew Heineman and Matt Porwoll, the second year in a row that there was a tie in the Cinematography category.


The rest of the evening’s awards were split between many of the year’s top nonfiction films. Laurie Anderson won the award for Outstanding Original Score for Heart of a Dog; Stefan Nadelman and Hisko Hulsing took home Graphic Design Honors for Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck and Crystal Moselle won Outstanding Debut for The Wolfpack.


The Nonfiction Short Film Award was also a tie result, with both Hotel 22 by Elizabeth Lo and Buffalo Juggalos by Scott Cummings named as winners.  This year’s award for Nonfiction Film for Television went to HBO Documentary Films’ Private Violence, directed by Cynthia Hill.  Alexandre Nanau’s Toto and His Sisters received the Spotlight Award.


Legendary filmmaker Steve James, a Cinema Eye winner in 2012 for The Interrupters, hosted the 2016 Cinema Eye Honors at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.  Radiolab hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich served as announcers and Voices of God for the proceedings.  Presenters included Laura Poitras, Chris Hegedus, Ross McElwee, Making a Murderer co-directors Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi, Alex Gibney, Liz Garbus and Chris Smith, director of this year’s Legacy Award winner American Movie.


American Movie was presented with its Legacy Award at the Cinema Eye Honors Lunch on Tuesday in Manhattan, where the winner of this year’s Heterodox Award was also revealed as Jafar Panahi’s Taxi.


A full list of this year’s winners follows:


Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking


The Look of Silence

Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer

Produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen


Outstanding Achievement in Direction


Joshua Oppenheimer

The Look of Silence


Outstanding Achievement in Editing


Chris King



Outstanding Achievement in Production


Signe Byrge Sørensen

The Look of Silence


Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography (tie)


Matthew Heineman and Matt Porwoll

Cartel Land


Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk



Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Score


Laurie Anderson

Heart of a Dog


Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation


Stefan Nadelman and Hisko Hulsing

Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck


Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film


The Wolfpack

Directed by Crystal Moselle


Audience Choice Prize



Directed by Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin


Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Films Made for Television


Private Violence

Directed and Produced by Cynthia Hill

For HBO Documentary Films: Senior Producer Nancy Abraham, Executive Producer Sheila Nevins


Spotlight Award


Toto and His Sisters

Directed by Alexandre Nanau


Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking (tie)


Buffalo Juggalos

Directed by Scott Cummings


Hotel 22

Directed by Elizabeth Lo


Heterodox Award



Directed by Jafar Panahi


Legacy Award


American Movie

Directed by Chris Smith


About Cinema Eye, Cinema Eye Week and the 2015 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.  At its inception, Cinema Eye was the first US or international organization to present annual awards for documentary in the fields of production, cinematography, original score and graphic design and the only organization, aside from the guilds, to recognize outstanding direction and editing.


The Honors ceremony is the centerpiece of Cinema Eye Week, a multi-day, multi-city celebration that acknowledges the best work in nonfiction film through screenings and events.  The final three 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 is HBO Documentary Films.  Netflix, A&E IndieFilms, Camden International Film Festival, Field of Vision and Just Films/Ford Foundation are Major Sponsors.  Festival Partners include CPH:DOX and Hot Docs.  The Institutional Sponsor for #CEH16 is The Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri.  The Museum of the Moving Image is the Venue Partner.  Industry Sponsors include Abel Cine, ACE American Cinema Editors, LEF Foundation, The Orchard and Spacestation.


Cinema Eye is headed by a core team that includes Board Chairs Marshall Curry (director, Street Fight and Point and Shoot) and Charlotte Cook (Co-Creator and Executive Producer, Field of Vision), Cinema Eye Week Co-Chairs Wendy Garrett and Nathan Truesdell (producer, We Always Lie to Strangers), Cinema Eye Lead Producer 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 Claire Aguilar (Sheffield Doc/Fest), Charlotte Cook (Hot Docs), David Courier (Sundance), Cara Cusumano (Tribeca), Joanne Feinberg (Ashland Film Festival), Elena Fortes (Ambulante), Ben Fowlie (Camden International Film Festival), Tom Hall (Montclair Film Festival), Sarah Harris (Dallas Film Festival), Lane Kneedler (AFI FEST), Jim Kolmar (SXSW), Amir Labaki (It’s All True, Brazil), Artur Liebhart (Planete Doc Review), David Nugent (Hamptons Film Festival), Veton Nurkollari (DokuFest Kosovo), Andrea Passafiume (AFI DOCS), Janet Pierson (SXSW), Thom Powers (Toronto International Film Festival), Rachel Rosen (San Francisco), Charlotte Selb (RIDM Montreal), Genna Terranova (Tribeca), Sadie Tillery (Full Frame), Basil Tsiokos (DOC NYC) and David Wilson (True/False).


Nominees for the Cinema Eye Honors short film awards were selected by a nominations committee that included Claire Aguilar (Sheffield Doc/Fest), Chris Boeckman (True/False), Charlotte Cook (Hot Docs), Cara Cusumano (Tribeca), Ben Fowlie (Camden International Film Festival), Claudette Godfrey (SXSW), Doug Jones (Images Cinema), Ted Mott (Full Frame), Veton Nurkollari (DokuFest Kosovo), Dan Nuxoll (Rooftop Films), Andrea Passafiume (AFI DOCS), Mike Plante (Sundance), Rachel Rosen (San Francisco) 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 Nominations Committee Chair Charlotte Cook (Hot Docs), Joanne Feinberg (Ashland), Tom Hall (Montclair), Sarah Harris (Dallas), Doug Jones (Images Cinema), Lane Kneedler (AFI FEST), Jim Kolmar (SXSW) and Andrew Rodgers (RiverRun).  The second round included film critics and writers Steve Dollar, Bilge Ebiri, Eric Hynes, Liz Shannon Miller, Nick Pinkerton, Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman.


Ten finalists for the Heterodox Award were selected in voting by the Cinema Eye Honors Nominations Committee. The ten finalists were then viewed and five nominees were selected by a second round committee, composed of 8 nonfiction programmers and journalists, including Committee Chair Scott Macaulay (Editor in Chief, Filmmaker Magazine), Hadrian Belove (Executive Director, Cinefamily), Tine Fischer (Festival Director, CPH:DOX), Eric Hynes (Associate Curator of Film, Museum of the Moving Image), Doug Jones (Executive Director, Images Cinema), Mads Mikkelsen (Programmer, CPH:DOX), Dan Nuxoll (Program Director, Rooftop Films), Alison Willmore (Film Critic, Buzzfeed) and Rachel Rosen (Director of Programming, San Francisco Film Society).


Kate Hurwitz (Cinetic Media) and filmmakers Penny Lane (Our Nixon), Iva Radivojevic (Evaporating Borders), Richard Rowley (Dirty Wars) and Martha Shane (After Tiller) served as this year’s Spotlight Jury.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon