New York The Interrupters, Steve James’ epic portrait of violence mediators in Chicago, took two top awards at the 5th Annual Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens tonight.  Esther Robinson and AJ Schnack, who serve as Co-Chairs of Cinema Eye Honors, returned as this year’s co-hosts.

James took the prize for Outstanding Achievement in Direction just before the film was named as this year’s winner for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking.  It is the first time that a film has received both the Feature Film and the Directing award in the history of Cinema Eye.  “I don’t care so much about the Oscars now!” James said.

Academy Award-winner Michael Moore presented James and producer Alex Kotlowitz (—and the Interrupters—) with the award for Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking. Moore also roused the audience with talk of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ new Best Documentary Oscar nominating rules.

Moore, elected to the Board of Governors of the Oscars last year, said he wanted to introduce a Democracy movement to this branch. “This is a much more open, transparent process, and the old days of secret committees are gone,” Moore said.

Cinema Eye presented honors in six craft categories in addition to awards for Outstanding Feature, Debut Film, International Film, Legacy Award and Audience Choice. For the second time, Cinema Eye presented an award for Nonfiction Short Filmmaking, going to the late Tim Hetherington’s Diary (accepted by his parents),  as well as the Heterodox Award for Narrative Filmmaking, going to Mike Mills’ Beginners, that recognizes a narrative film that imaginatively incorporates nonfiction strategies, content and/or modes of production.  And for the first time, Cinema Eye presented its Hell Yeah Prize to Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Paradise Lost trilogy.

Documentaries vying for the top Nonfiction Feature prize included Clio Barnard’s The Arbor, Steve James’ The Interrupters, Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light, Leonard Retel Helmrich’ Position Among the Stars, James Marsh’s Project Nim and Asif Kapadia’s Senna. The award went to The Interrupters.

This year’s Legacy Award was presented to the landmark 1967 documentary, Titicut Follies, a stark and graphic portrayal of the conditions that existed at the State Prison for the Criminally Insane at Bridgewater, Massachusetts.  The Legacy Award is 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.  Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman accepted the award on behalf of the film.

“Making these movies is a great adventure,” Wiseman said. “I’m extremely pleased and proud to have this award for this first film I did.”

Cinema Eye also awarded its first-ever Hell Yeah Prize, given to filmmakers who have created works of incredible craft and artistry that also have significant, real-world impact, to Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky for their HBO Documentary Films trilogy Paradise Lost, which played a critical role in securing the release from prison of the wrongly prosecuted and convicted West Memphis Three. Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky and Jason Baldwin, one of the West Memphis Three, accepted the award.

“The Hell Yeah Award, right! It’s always been no, no, no,” said Baldwin. “Since August, my life has begun.”

“It’s been a dream come true for us,” said Berlinger. “You can make a difference when you make these films. We’ve had this amazing journey the past 20 years. We’re really appreciative of HBO.”

The following is a complete list of Cinema Eye Honors winners for 2012:

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking

The Interrupters
Directed by Steve James
Produced by Alex Kotlowitz and Steve James
Presented by Michael Moore

Outstanding Achievement in Direction

Steve James
The Interrupters
Presented by Alex Gibney

Audience Choice Prize

Directed by Cindy Meehl
Presented by Robert Krulwich

Outstanding Achievement in Production

Gian-Piero Ringel and Wim Wenders
Presented by Peter Davis and Andrea Meditch

Outstanding Achievement in Editing

Gregers Sall and Chris King
Presented by Peter Davis and Andrea Meditch

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

Danfung Dennis
Hell and Back Again
Presented by Kirsten Johnson and Darius Marder

Spotlight Award

The Tiniest Place
Directed by Tatiana Huezo Sánchez
Presented by Kirsten Johnson and Darius Marder

Heterodox Award

Directed by Mike Mills
Presented by Kimberly Reed and Alrick Brown

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking

Directed by Tim Hetherington
Presented by Nanette Burstein and Josh Fox

Outstanding Achievement in an Original Music Score

John Kusiak
Presented by Nanette Burstein and Josh Fox

Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Animation

Rob Feng and Jeremy Landman
Presented by Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen

Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film

Clio Barnard
The Arbor
Presented by Jeff Malmberg and Chris Shellen

Hell Yeah Prize

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
The Paradise Lost Trilogy
Presented by Jason Baldwin

Legacy Award

Titicut Follies
Directed by Frederick Wiseman
Presented by Steve James

About the Cinema Eye Honors and the 2012 Awards
The Cinema Eye Honors were founded in 2007 to recognize excellence in artistry and craft in nonfiction filmmaking.  It remains the only international nonfiction award to recognize the whole creative team, presenting annual craft awards in directing, producing, cinematography, editing, composing and graphic design/animation.  The 5th edition of the Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking will be held January 11, 2012 at New York City’s Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.  Nominees for the 2012 awards were announced on October 26, 2011.  A full list of nominees can be found at

Cinema Eye is headed by a core team that includes Co-Chairs Esther Robinson (director, A Walk Into the Sea: Danny Williams and the Warhol Factory; Cinema Eye nominee for Outstanding Debut, 2008) and AJ Schnack (director, Kurt Cobain About A Son and founder of Cinema Eye), Producer Nathan Truesdell (producer, Convention), Nominations Committee Chair Sean Farnel (Former Head of Programming, Hot Docs Film Festival), Advisory Board Chair Andrea Meditch (executive producer, Buck and Man on Wire) and Filmmaker Advisory Board Chair Laura Poitras (director, The Oath; Cinema Eye winner for Outstanding Direction, 2011).