2025 Broadcast Honors Submissions Now Open

The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking today announced that the 2015 Legacy Award will be presented to the landmark 1990 documentary, Paris is Burning,  Jennie Livingston’s landmark portrait of gender, race and culture in the waning days of New York City’s Drag Balls in the 1980s.  The presentation of the Legacy Award will be the centerpiece of a major new addition to the events of Cinema Eye Week: the Honors Lunch.

Livingston, who was a young photographer in New York when she started filming Paris is Burning, will accept the award on behalf of the film at the inaugural Honors Lunch, to be held on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 in Manhattan.  Netflix is the Premier Sponsor of the Honors Lunch and the Jonathan Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri is the Institutional Sponsor for the event.

This is the sixth 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 First Annual Cinema Eye Honors Lunch will celebrate Paris Is Burning 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 The War Room, 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.

Paris is Burning opened the doors onto the exuberant world of vogue culture in NYC on the eve of the AIDS epidemic.  The film’s intimate, empathic focus on the struggles and joys of trans and gay culture is just as transformative today as it was nearly twenty-five years ago when it premiered,” declared Cinema Eye Board Chair Andrea Meditch in announcing Paris is Burning as this year’s Legacy Award recipient.

“Just making the Influentials list was swoon-worthy,” said Paris is Burning director Jennie Livingston. “Now Paris is Burning is a Legacy Film, too? Does the award come with smelling salts? Or better, yet a trip on the Orient Express along with Errol Morris, Agnes Varda, Ross McElwee and the rest? I’m ready! And immensely excited. And wildly appreciative.”

Continuing its partnership with Cinema Eye, the Hot Docs Film Festival will host a Cinema Eye Legacy Award screening of Paris is Burning in Toronto during the 2015 edition of the festival, featuring a conversation with Jennie Livingston.  “Hot Docs is thrilled to continue our partnership with Cinema Eye and our sponsorship of the Legacy Award” said Charlotte Cook, the Director of Programming for Hot Docs and Chair of the Cinema Eye Nominations Committee.  “We are very excited to be able to celebrate the incredible filmmaking achievement of Paris is Burning and to host Jennie at the festival for what will be a very special screening at the 2015 festival.”

The inaugural Honors Lunch is the latest edition to Cinema Eye Week, a multi-day, multi-city event that recognizes and celebrates excellence in nonfiction filmmaking.  The week culminates in the 8th Annual Honors Awards Ceremony, which will be held on Wednesday, January 7 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York where 12 awards will be presented recognizing achievement in nonfiction film over the past year.  Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green, who has revolutionized the concept of documentary through his live performances of nonfiction theatre, will serve as the host for the 2015 Honors Awards Ceremony. Tickets are now on sale at

HBO Documentary Films is the Premier Sponsor for the 2015 Cinema Eye Honors.  Major Sponsors are Netflix and Radius/TWC.  Cinema Eye’s Festival Partners are the Camden International Film Festival, CPH:DOX, Hot Docs and True/False.  Venue Partner is the Museum of the Moving Image.  Institutional Sponsors include the Jonathan Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri, Chicken and Egg and the LEF Foundation.  Industry Sponsors include Filmmaker Magazine and Spacestation Media.