The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking today announced that the 2013 Legacy Award will be presented to the acclaimed and influential 1993 documentary, The War Room, a behind-the-scenes look at Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign and the charismatic staffers who changed the way campaigns were run. Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker will accept the award on behalf of the film at the 6th annual Cinema Eye Honors ceremony on January 9, 2013, to be held at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York. A screening of the film, featuring a discussion with the key members of the filmmaking team, will be held the following night, also at the Museum.
This is the fourth year that Cinema Eye will present a Legacy Award, intended to honor classic films that inspire a new generation of filmmakers and embody the Cinema Eye mission: excellence in creative and artistic achievements in nonfiction films. The Legacy Award celebrates the entire creative team behind the chosen film. Previous Legacy Awards went to Ross McElwee’s Sherman’s March, the Maysles Brothers’ Grey Gardens and Frederick Wiseman’s Titicut Follies.
“For The War Room to be chosen for this momentous award and for it to be included in the company of the films of Maysles, Wiseman and McElwee, is a great honor,” said filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker. “When we filmed with Carville and Stephanopoulos, history was taking place in front of our cameras, but it seemed cluttered and disorganized and we were never really sure of what was going on. But the incredible eye of our camera always saw the truth … it saw history.”
This year, for the first time, the Hot Docs Film Fesitval will partner with Cinema Eye to present this year’s Legacy Award. Hot Docs will host a Cinema Eye Legacy Award screening of The War Room in Toronto during the 2013 edition of the festival, featuring a conversation with filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker. The dates of this year’s Hot Docs Film Festival are April 25 – May 5, 2013.
“The War Room is a seminal examination of political passion, a peek inside the presidential campaign spin machine that celebrates the pursuit of the democratic process,” said Cinema Eye’s Advisory Chair Andrea Meditch. “It is also a testament to the work of a team to create great nonfiction art and we salute all of the filmmakers involved in bringing this classic verite film to the screen.”
The creative team behind The War Room includes producers R.J. Cutler, Wendy Ettinger and Fraser Pennebaker; co-cinematographers Nick Doob and Kevin Rafferty and co-editor Erez Laufer.
“We are thrilled to honor Chris and Penny with the Legacy Award for The War Room,” said filmmaker Laura Poitras, the Chair of the Cinema Eye Filmmaker Advisory Board. “Their body of work in non-fiction filmmaking is unparalleled. They have been consistently ahead of the times, telling stories that capture the pulse of social movements. They are also two of the most generous filmmakers we know, always finding time to share their knowledge with other filmmakers. They are an inspiration to us all.”
“We are honored to be able to partner with Cinema Eye for the first time to present the Legacy Award screening of The War Room in Toronto,” said Charlotte Cook, Director of Programming at Hot Docs. “This film, even after twenty years, remains a benchmark in the portrayal of politics in documentary. It’s an absolute pleasure to honor this film, and celebrate the incredible work of Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker and their team.”
About The War Room
The War Room was the name for Bill Clinton’s campaign center in Little Rock, Ark. Though the press wasn’t usually permitted inside this small warren of chaos, filmmakers D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, managed to secure partial access and shot nearly 35 hours of footage there. At the center ofThe War Room are the two men who guided Clinton’s ship from the beginning: James Carville, the fiery, charismatic, expletive-spewing Cajun who manages the campaign with a mixture of Southern charm and unrelenting passion; and George Stephanopoulos, the brilliant, handsome Rhodes Scholar who, as communications director, calmly but surely mobilizes his staff to take the presidency.
Hegedus and Pennebaker’s camera follow these two masterminds as they organize and execute strategies for such events as the Democratic National Convention, the debates with George Bush and H. Ross Perot, and the final, nail-biting days leading up to the election itself, when it seemed less and less certain whom the voters would choose. The War Room is a compelling and enlightening adventure story about two remarkable men, and about the monumental effort, determination and chutzpah that is required to conduct and win a political campaign in the modern age.
The War Room credits:
Directed by Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker
Produced by R. J. Cutler, Wendy Ettinger and Frazer Pennebaker
Edited by Chris Hegedus, Erez Laufer and D A Pennebaker
Cinematography by Nick Doob, D A Pennebaker and Kevin Rafferty
Sound by Chris Hegedus, David Dawkins and Judy Karp
About D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus
D A Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus form one of the most respected and unique teams of documentary filmmakers working today. Known for their unintrusive, cinema verite style of filmmaking, they follow their subjects using handheld cameras and available light with minimal interruption. The result is a candid portrait of a real-life drama in which the characters determine the action.
D A (Donn Alan) Pennebaker is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of cinema verite filmmaking. In the early sixties, Pennebaker and his colleague Richard Leacock developed one of the first fully portable 16mm synchronized camera and sound recording systems which revolutionized filmmaking and helped to create the immediate style of shooting so popular today. Pennebaker recently became the first documentary filmmaker to receive an Honorary Oscar for his lifetime body of work from the Motion Picture Academy.
In the 1960s, as a member of Drew Associates, Pennebaker collaborated on a number of seminal verite documents of the period, including Primary andCrisis. In 1967, Pennebaker directed and released the seminal film Don’t Look Back, which followed Bob Dylan’s last acoustic concert tour in England. The film broke box office records and is considered a classic of both documentary and rock filmmaking. Pennebaker’s next film, Monterey Pop, was a record of the 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival that launched the careers of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.
Since the mid-1970s, Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus have collaborated on a variety of subjects ranging from politics to music and most recently food. In 1992, the team followed Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign and produced The War Room, which received an Academy Award nomination and the D.W. Griffith Award for Best Documentary. Subsequent films include, Moon Over Broadway, following Carol Burnett’s Broadway debut, andStartup.com, which won Hegedus the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement. Their latest film, Kings of Pastry, follows three renowned pastry chefs in their pursuit of the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France title. The film has been broadcast around the world and was most recently shown on PBS and in cinemas in the US.