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Features

NY's Quad Cinema Adapts to Changing Film Environment

Scene from FlooredFloored is a new documentary about the demise of the unfittest in Chicago's commodities markets. With filmmakers struggling to adapt to a mutant distribution environment, could it also be a metaphor for today's indie film industry?

The doc, by James Allen Smith, opened today at New York's Quad Cinema through a self-distribution mechanism that would make Darwin proud. Called “Quad Cinema 4-Wall Select,” the initiative allows filmmakers to show their work in the weighty media market of Manhattan.

Read more: NY's Quad Cinema Adapts to...

2010 Cinema Eye Awards Celebrate Documentaries

Nonfiction film’s finest came out for Cinema Eye's third annual bash, the Cinema Eye Honors, at Manhattan’s glass-curtained Times Center. In an award ceremony itself worthy of a trophy — for Outstanding Achievement in Unscripted Vamping — the organization saluted a dozen top achievements in documentary craft and innovation. Louie Psihoyos' stealth inquest into dolphin abuse, The Cove, swept three medals, including for Outstanding Nonfiction Feature, Outstanding Production and Outstanding Cinematography.

Director Lou Psihoyos and dolphin trainer Ric O’BarryAmong the presenters were "goddaddy of American documentary" Albert Maysles, cinematographer and long-incubating director Ellen Kuras, former Cinema Eye winning filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev and animator Bill Plympton. In an 11th-hour swap of rhyming last names, documentarian Doug Block replaced comedian/filmmaker Chris Rock on the presenters lineup.

Veteran doc director Barbara Kopple conferred the Cinema Eye Legacy Award on Ross McElwee, for his 1986 classic, Sherman’s March. That the two-time Oscar laureate is famed for her prodigious amount of coverage whereas McElwee’s feature shoot logged a monkish 25 hours of footage was a gentle irony not lost on the gathered insiders.

Thom Powers, chair of the Cinema Eye Honors Nominations Committee and documentary programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival, held down a chat with McElwee, adducing added evidence of Cinema Eye’s unorthodox take on award do's.

One of the most memorable quotes of the evening came from presenter Peter Davis, whose landmark film, Hearts and Minds, won an Academy Award in 1975. Remembering a time "when the air was clean and sex was dirty," Davis surveyed the past and ongoing importance of nonfiction production.

Cinema Eye co-chairs Esther Robinson and AJ Schnack emceed, entertaining the black velvet and denim crowd with Mad Libs, apologetically earnest quotes and tender disses. "We all know awards are bullshit," copped Schnack in a welcome flash of jovial snark following one especially lengthy ramble.

Agnès Varda took the Cinema Eye for Outstanding Direction. Accepting the statuette on The Beaches of Agnès filmmaker’s behalf was her veteran production designer, Franckie Diago.

Animator/Presenter Billy PlymptonAnders Østergaard's smuggled footage expose, Burma VJ, bagged two awards — Outstanding International Feature and Outstanding Achievement in Editing — as did Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher’s October Country, a portrait of an American family that was decorated Outstanding Debut and Original Music Score.

The Audience Choice prize went to September Issue, RJ Cutler's off-wings probe of Vogue magazine. Jessica Oreck's debut feature, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, won Cinema Eye Spotlight Award. The newly created Spotlight Award is bestowed as a corrective, to give proper due to a film that has flown under the domestic radar.

Two categories, Original Music Score and the Spotlight Award, were determined by a special jury that included Laurie Anderson and Jason Kohn, respectively.

Nearly 100 feature-length nonfiction films contended for this year’s Cinema Eyes. Documentary programmers from 14 film festivals in North America and Europe picked the nominees.

Committee members included:

Meira Blaustein (Woodstock)
Tom Hall (Sarasota and Newport)
Doug Jones (Los Angeles)
David Kwok (Tribeca)
Caroline Libresco (Sundance)
Janet Pierson (SXSW)
Sky Sitney (Silverdocs)
Sadie Tillery (Full Frame)
Heather Croall (Sheffield)
Ben
Fowlie (Camden)
Sean Farnel (Hot Docs)
David Wilson (True/False)

2010 Cinema Eye Honorees:

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking
The Cove
Directed by Louie Psihoyos
Produced by Paula DuPré Pesman and Fisher Stevens

Outstanding Achievement in Direction
Agnès Varda
The Beaches of Agnès

Outstanding Achievement in International Feature Filmmaking
Burma VJ
Directed by Anders Østergaard
Produced by Lise-Lense Møller

Outstanding Achievement in Debut Feature Filmmaking
October Country
Directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher

Outstanding Achievement in Production
Paula DuPré Pesman and Fisher Stevens
The Cove

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Brook Aitken
The Cove

Outstanding Achievement in Editing
Janus Billeskov-Jansen and Thomas Papapetros
Burma VJ
Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Score
Danny Grody, Donal Mosher, Michael Palmieri, Ted Savarese and Kenric Taylor

October Country

Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Animation (tie)
Bigstar for
Food, Inc.
and
Francis Hanneman, Darren Pasemko, Kent Hugo, Omar Majeed, Brett Gaylor + The Open Source Cinema Community for
RIP: A Remix Manifesto

Spotlight Award
Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

Directed by Jessica Oreck

Audience Choice Prize
The September Issue
Directed by RJ Cutler

Legacy Award
Sherman’s March
Directed by Ross McElwee

For more information on both the awards and Cinema Eye go to: http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com

Rooftop Films Seeks Support

As the 2009 Summer Series winds down, a severe gap in the budget threatens to drastically shrink its future programming. The organization must raise $70,000 by October to ensure that Rooftop Films can continue without compromise in 2010. Donations from supporters – whether it’s $1,000 or $100 or $10 – is crucial to that effort.

Bringing independent film to the diverse communities of New York City is central to its mission, which is why the 2009 Summer Series has gone ahead as planned despite major budget cuts behind the scenes. In fact, this has been a banner year for Rooftop – more premieres than ever before, groundbreaking partnerships with organizations like International Film Festival Rotterdam and Reel 13, and record audiences. By the end of the season, it will have presented more than 40 nights of incredible films in incredible locations.

Understanding that the economic crisis has affected audiences as well, buying tickets to a Rooftop show probably seems harder than it did a year ago. At this critical moment, though, it must ask for additional contributions to ensure that it can continue with  programs in the coming years.

To read more about the programs donations will support, visit the website at http://www.rooftopfilms.com/.

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