Posted: 03/30/2009


Second Annual Cinema Eye Honors Award Show Celebrates Excellence in Nonfiction Filmmaking

by Chris Wood

Film Monthly Home
Wayne Case
Steve Anderson
The Rant
Short Takes (Archived)
Small Screen Monthly
Behind the Scenes
New on DVD
The Indies
Film Noir
Coming Soon
Now Playing
Books on Film
What's Hot at the Movies This Week
Interviews TV

New York City – The Second Annual Cinema Eye Honors took place at 8:00 p.m. on March 29 at the Times Center in midtown Manhattan to celebrate “Excellence in Nonfiction Filmmaking” for 20 nominated films in 10 specific categories that included outstanding achievement in directing, producing, editing and cinematography.

“Waltz with Bashir,” the best foreign film nominee at this year’s Academy Awards, won four out of a record-setting seven Cinema Eye Honors nominations. The accolades included the Cinema Eye Award for outstanding achievement in direction, music composition, graphic design and animation, and international feature. The film is about an Israeli director who interviews fellow veterans of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon to reconstruct his own memories on the ordeal.

When Yoni Goodman, Waltz’s director of animation, accepted the award for graphic design and animation, he humorously proclaimed: “First rule of animation: don’t do it. I’m glad I broke that rule.” Goodman also accepted the Cinema Eye on behalf of Waltz’s director (and for the film’s other awards), Ari Foiman, who could not attend. Goodman continued to keep the speeches humorous by saying, “This is getting awkward. I am not Ari. I did the drawings.”

The award show was again sponsored by independent Internet-based film distributor, IndiePix, and jointly hosted by award winning producer AJ Schnack and Thom Powers – who is the documentary programmer at the Toronto International Film Festival. The two proved to be a lively pair for their roles as host and kept things light and entertaining for the audience. Powers led off the hosting duties and quickly noted how the Cinema Eye award reminded him of a weapon, a weapon of “vindication” for the nonfiction filmmakers.

Schnack hit the stage donning a garb similar to that of King Alexis from the nominated film, “Order of the Myths.” Myths received four Cinema Eye nominations that included outstanding achievement in nonfiction filmmaking. Schnack also broke into a musical number to announce the nominees for outstanding achievement in nonfiction filmmaking by parodying a number of songs that included the theme song to the children’s game show “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” to introduce Morgan Spurlock’s Cinema Eye nominated, “Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden.”

“Man on Wire,” the winner for best documentary at this year’s Academy Awards, also had a successful night. The film took home three Cinema Eye awards in the categories of outstanding achievement in production, editing, and nonfiction feature filmmaking. It is about Phillippe Petit’s high wire walk between New York City’s World Trade Towers in 1974.

Petit took to the stage when Man on Wire won for nonfiction feature filmmaking and joked about how more recently he’d been maneuvering his way up to a stage instead of across a tightrope. Petit also encouraged everyone to continue making films.

“Up the Yangtze,” a best documentary nominee at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards, won two Cinema Eye awards that included outstanding achievement in debut feature. It is about the effects that China’s Three Gorges Dam will have on personal lives and numerous cultural and archaeological sites. Yangtze’s director, Yung Chang, said the award was a “wonderful moment to cap it off” and that the award “goes out to all the subjects.”

This year’s Cinema Eye presenters included veteran documentary filmmakers like, D.A. Pennebaker (“Don’t Look Back,” 1967), and performance artist and wife of Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson. Pennebaker took a moment, before presenting the outstanding achievement in nonfiction filmmaking Cinema Eye award, to revisit nonfiction filmmaking history from his point-of-view. He said, “We made them, because they were there to be made.” He also noted that his endeavors in the art form were “all worthwhile.”

An interactive aspect of the event was the “Audience Choice Award,” which was determined by individuals who visited the Cinema Eye Honors website and voted for their favorite nominated film. The nominees were selected based on 2008 box office figures and votes received in the “Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking” category. This year, Up the Yangtze, took home the Cinema Honors for audience choice.

Five short films were honored at this year’s Cinema Eye award show that included: “Breadmakers,” “City of Cranes,” “Kids and Money,” “One Day,” and “The Tailor.” This honor was a new edition to the Cinema Eye awards. The shorts film’s topics ranged from meditative looks at cranes and constructions to character studies of disabled bakers and children of Los Angeles’ privileged, gilded class. The honors were presented in a short video vignette featuring clips of each film.

Following the awards was an after-party just a couple blocks away at The Arena. It offered the opportunity for on-on-ones with the nominees, winners and founders. The open bar also provided for a nice way to celebrate and toast the winners and nominees.

During the show, it was noted that the Cinema Eye awards were initially pitched at a midtown steak house in 2007. In Schnack’s introduction, on the topic of nonfiction filmmakers, he stated that, “we’re in awe of each other.” And with a second award show under their belts, Schnack and many other nonfiction filmmakers appear to have found an annual platform from which such awe can be honored with awards. For further information on the Cinema Eye awards, visit their website (


1) Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking
2) Outstanding Achievement in Direction
3) Outstanding Achievement in Production
4) Outstanding Achievement in Editing
5) Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Animation
6) Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition
7) Outstanding Achievement in International Feature
8) Outstanding Achievement in Debut Feature
9) Honored Shorts
10) Audience Choice Award

Chris Wood Writer

Got a problem? E-mail us at