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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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