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Cinema Eye, the nonfiction film organization that organizes and presents the annual Cinema Eye Honors, today announced that the 2016 Legacy Award will be presented to Chris Smith’s beloved 1999 documentary, American Movie, the unforgettable story of a filmmaker pursuing his passion project.

Director/Producer/Cinematographer Chris Smith will accept the award on behalf of the entire team of American Movie, including producer Sarah Price and editors Jun Diaz and Barry Poltermann, at the Cinema Eye Honors Lunch, to be held on Tuesday, January 12, 2016 in Manhattan.

In addition, Cinema Eye announced today that acclaimed filmmaker and burgeoning comedian Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, Life Itself) will serve as host and master of ceremonies for the 2016 Cinema Eye Honors, to be held Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.

“After yet another year of not being asked to host the Oscars, I’m happy to bring my talents to Cinema Eye, which, for me, is the awards show equivalent of a safety school,” Mr. James said in a statement sent by telegram.

Finally, today marks the first day of voting for Cinema Eye’s Audience Choice Prize, where thousands of film fans vote each year for their favorite documentary.  This year’s nominees includes many of 2015’s most loved and talked about films, including Oscar shortlisted titles Amy, Best of Enemies, Going Clear, The Hunting Ground, Meru, What Happened Miss Simone? and Where to Invade Next.  Votes are cast on the Cinema Eye website at [link].

Continuing its partnership with Cinema Eye, the Hot Docs Film Festival will host a special Cinema Eye Legacy Award screening of American Movie in Toronto during the festival’s 2016 edition, featuring a conversation with Chris Smith.

“Hot Docs is thrilled to continue our partnership with Cinema Eye and our sponsorship of the Legacy Award,” said Hot Docs director of programming Shane Smith. “Not only is it an exceptional film, American Movie also has a passionate fan base in Toronto, and we anticipate the screening at Hot Docs 2016 will be an unforgettable event.

This is the seventh 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 Cinema Eye Honors Lunch will celebrate American Movie as well as the 24 other films recently named to the annual list of The Influentials, classic films such as previous Legacy Award winners Grey Gardens, Harlan County USA, Titicut Follies and Paris is Burning, that were cited by this year’s class of documentary filmmakers as the films that inspired them.  The Lunch will also recognize this year’s Unforgettables, notable and significant documentary subjects from the past year’s films, and the announcement of this year’s winner of Cinema Eye’s Heterodox Award, a prize for narrative films that blur the line between fiction and nonfiction.

Steve James is one of the most nominated filmmakers in Cinema Eye history.  He was the recipient of both the Outstanding Feature Film and Outstanding Direction award in 2012 for The Interrupters, the first filmmaker to win both prizes.  He was nominated for four awards last year for his Roger Ebert documentary, Life Itself.  Two of his films, Hoop Dreams and Stevie, were cited by this year’s filmmakers as part of the 2016 Influentials.  James may or may not have taken classes at Second City.

Tickets are now on sale at for the 2016 Cinema Eye Honors Award Ceremony, which includes a pre-reception hosted at the Museum of the Moving Image by HBO Documentary Films, the Premiere Sponsor of Cinema Eye Week.