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First Five Nominees Revealed

January 4, 2011 – New York – The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking announced today the five nominees for the first annual Cinema Eye Heterodox Award, sponsored by Filmmaker Magazine.

The Cinema Eye Heterodox Award marks a new award category created to honor a narrative film that imaginatively incorporates nonfiction strategies, content and/or modes of production. These films illuminate the formal possibilities of nonfiction filmmaking while raising provocative questions about on-going documentary orthodoxy and the perceived boundaries between narrative and nonfiction filmmaking.

The five films nominated for the first Heterodox Award are: Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio’s ALAMAR, Matt Porterfield’s PUTTY HILL, Michelangelo Frammartino’s LE QUATTRO VOLTE, Lena Dunham’s TINY FURNITURE, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES.

The films were nominated by the editorial staff of Filmmaker Magazine, a publication of the IFP, and chosen from a list of eligible films based on the general criteria for the Cinema Eye Honors but expanded to include two extra festivals that program narratives. The winner will be chosen by a jury of filmmakers and announced at the 2011 Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking to be held on January 18, 2011 at the newly re-opened Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, New York City. The event will also be broadcast on television for the first time on the Documentary Channel.

“Filmmakers have always been at the forefront of raising important questions about the construction of truth, but the borders between fiction and non-fiction film are both slippery and oft times guarded with provincial and outmoded thinking,” said Cinema Eye Co-Chair Esther Robinson, “The Cinema Eye Honors hopes to puncture this border, by honoring a narrative film that best illuminates the beauty and importance of creating new territories of cinema – inhabitable by both fiction and nonfiction films alike.”

2010 was a year filled with debate over issues of “what is real” in documentary film. Three of this year’s Cinema Eye nominees – THE ARBOR, CATFISH and EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP – were among the films that spurred animated conversations and raised provocative questions about the very nature of the form. But these discussions were not limited to films classified as nonfiction. Ranging from fiction films set within documentary milieus to films whose directors incorporated true biography and personal experience into their storytelling, films on both sides of the fiction/non-fiction divide stood out for their bold choices.

Said Scott Macaulay, Filmmaker Magazine Editor, “The critic and theorist Walter Benjamin once wrote, ‘All great works of art either dissolve a genre or invent one.’ Filmmaker Magazine is honored to celebrate with Cinema Eye the five narrative films this year that have most adventurously burst through the boundaries separating art and life.”

The jury selecting the final award consists of: filmmaker and POV series producer Yance Ford; Award winning producer Julie Goldman (SERGIO, THE COVE); Academy Award winning director Ross Kaufman (BORN INTO BROTHELS); Academy Award Nominated director Joshua Marston (MARIA FULL OF GRACE) and award-winning director Astra Taylor (ZIZEK!, THE EXAMINED LIFE). The Filmmaker Magazine editors and writers selecting the nominees were: Scott Macaulay, Howard Feinstein, Brandon Harris, Mary Anderson Casavant, Damon Smith and Mike Plante.

About Cinema Eye Honors

The Cinema Eye Honors were launched in late 2007 to recognize exemplary craft and innovation in nonfiction film. Cinema Eye’s mission is to advocate for, recognize and promote the highest commitment to rigor and artistry in the nonfiction field. The Honors are held annually in January in New York City. Co-chairs for the 2011 Cinema Eye Honors are filmmakers Esther Robinson (A WALK INTO THE SEA: DANNY WILLIAMS AND THE WARHOL FACTORY) and AJ Schnack (KURT COBAIN ABOUT A SON). The producer for Cinema Eye is Nathan Truesdell. Sean Farnel, Documentary Programmer for the Hot Docs Film Festival is the Chair of the Cinema Eye Nominations Committee and Andrea Meditch, Exectutive Producer of MAN ON WIRE and GRIZZLY MAN, is the Chair of the Cinema Eye Advisory Board. For more information about Cinema Eye, including previous nominees and winners, photos and video, visit

The Five Nominees:

Alamar. Winner of the Tiger Award at the Rotterdam Film Festival, Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio’s Set among the fishing community of Banco Chinchorro, Mexico’s largest corral reef, Alamar tells the story of a father bonding with his young son during the few days he has custody of him one summer. It is based on its actors’ real-life relationship, and Gonzalex-Rubio weaves their story into the actual rhythms of life in this seaside community. “The story is fiction but based on reality,” the director says. Alamar opened this year from Film Movement at the Film Forum.

Putty Hill, directed by Matt Porterfield. Created with the collaboration of his performers, all of who are playing characters informed by their own daily lives, Matthew Porterfield’s Putty Hill tells the story of a group of Baltimore residents gathered for the funeral of a friend. Putty Hill is an innovative blend of dramatic storytelling, improvisation, and documentary portraiture. It premiered in the Panorama section of the Berlin Film Festival in 2010 and will be opening this Spring from Cinema Guild.

Le Quattro Volte, directed by Michelangelo Frammartino, is set among the men and animals of the Southern Italian region of Calabria, telling a tale that is as elemental as life itself. Truly unclassifiable, Frammartino challenges the conventions of the ethnographic documentary with beauty and philosophical ambition. A Lorber Films release, Le Quattro Volte was a selection of the 2010 Cannes Film Festival’s Director’s Fortnight, was selected for the New York Film Festival, won the Grand Prize at CPH:DOX, and will be released in 2011.

Tiny Furniture, written and directed by Lena Dunham. In Tiny Furniture, writer/director Lena Dunham stars as Aura, a fictional protagonist based heavily on herself. Aura returns from college, moves back home (Dunham’s real apartment) and negotiates a new post-college/pre-adult relationship with her sister (Grace Dunham, her sister) and artist mother (the artist Laurie Simmons, her mother). Dunham gives the directionlessness of early adulthood a tart, screwball spin in a comedy about work, family and relationships that also questions the ways we consider and categorize the autobiographical impulse within narrative cinema. Tiny Furniture won the Dramatic Competition Prize at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival and was released by IFC Films.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, written and directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. The winner of the Palme d’Or at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival, Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a magical and uncategorizable fusion of poetry, mystery and mythology. Both a personal film drawing upon the director’s childhood as well as a reverie about an earlier era of Thai cinema, the film combines dream, documentary, magical creatures and moments infused with the specifics of the life and politics of northeast Thailand. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives will be released in Spring, 2011 by Strand Releasing.

2011 Heterodox Award Press Release PDF