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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.Among 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.Anders 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 FilmmakingThe CoveDirected by Louie PsihoyosProduced by Paula DuPré Pesman and Fisher StevensOutstanding Achievement in DirectionAgnès VardaThe Beaches of AgnèsOutstanding Achievement in International Feature FilmmakingBurma VJDirected by Anders ØstergaardProduced by Lise-Lense MøllerOutstanding Achievement in Debut Feature FilmmakingOctober CountryDirected by Michael Palmieri and Donal MosherOutstanding Achievement in ProductionPaula DuPré Pesman and Fisher StevensThe CoveOutstanding Achievement in CinematographyBrook AitkenThe CoveOutstanding Achievement in EditingJanus Billeskov-Jansen and Thomas PapapetrosBurma VJOutstanding Achievement in Original Music ScoreDanny Grody, Donal Mosher, Michael Palmieri, Ted Savarese and Kenric Taylor
October CountryOutstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Animation (tie)Bigstar forFood, Inc.andFrancis Hanneman, Darren Pasemko, Kent Hugo, Omar Majeed, Brett Gaylor + The Open Source Cinema Community forRIP: A Remix ManifestoSpotlight AwardBeetle Queen Conquers Tokyo
Directed by Jessica OreckAudience Choice PrizeThe September IssueDirected by RJ CutlerLegacy AwardSherman’s MarchDirected by Ross McElwee
For more information on both the awards and Cinema Eye go to: http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com
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