2019 Cinema Eye Honors Winners

Hale County, Minding the Gap and Free Solo Top 12th Annual Cinema Eye Honors

RaMell Ross’ Cinematic Portrait, Hale County This Morning, This Evening Named Outstanding Feature
Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap wins Outstanding Direction, Editing, and Debut
Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin’s Free Solo takes Production, Cinematography, Audience Choice
Shirkers win two Honors for Outstanding Score and Graphic Design
The Distant Barking of Dogs, America to Me, American Animals,
Baltimore Rising, My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes Among Other Award Winners

January 10, 2019, Astoria, New York –
RaMell Ross’ debut feature, Hale County This Morning, This Evening, an intimate and cinematic portrait of black lives in Alabama, took the top award tonight at the 12th Annual Cinema Eye Honors, winning Outstanding Nonfiction Feature. It was the second Cinema Eye Feature Honor in a row for producer Joslyn Barnes, who also produced last year’s award winner, Strong Island.

A trio of films that are on the Academy’s Documentary Feature Shortlist scored multiple awards. Bing Liu’s Minding the Gap, a deeply personal chronicle of a decades-long friendship set against the backdrop of Rockford, IL’s skateboarding community, received three top Honors: Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Editing, and Outstanding Debut.

Free Solo, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s portrait of Alex Holland’s epic attempt to free climb El Capitan, also received three Honors for Outstanding Production, Cinematography and the Audience Choice Prize, which is voted on by the general public. More than 22,000 votes were cast this year for the Audience Award.

Shirkers, Sandi Tan’s exploration of the mysterious disappearance a film she made in her youth, picked up two awards: Outstanding Original Music Score for Ishai Adair, and Outstanding Graphic Design or Animation for Lucas Celler and Tan.

With Free Solo’s three wins, Jimmy Chin becomes the most awarded individual in Cinema Eye History, with five awards all-time, coming off of two wins for Meru.

Bing Liu joins last year’s winner Yance Ford (Strong Island) as the two filmmakers in Cinema Eye history to win three awards for their debut film.

America to Me, the 10-part STARZ series examining race in a suburban Chicago high school, won the inaugural Outstanding Broadcast Series for director Steve James. James previously won two Cinema Eye Honors for his film The Interrupters. The award for Broadcast Film went to Sonja Sohn for her HBO Documentary Films’ feature Baltimore Rising.

The Oscar-shortlisted Danish film The Distant Barking of Dogs, which tells the story of a woman caring for her Grandsons near the front lines of fighting in Ukraine, received the Spotlight Award for director Simon Lereng Wilmont. The NY Times Op-Doc My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes was named Outstanding Nonfiction Short for director Charlie Tyrell. The latter film is also Oscar shortlisted in the Documentary Short category.

Bart Layton’s American Animals received Cinema Eye’s Heterodox Award. Layton’s previous film, The Imposter, was also a Cinema Eye winner.

This year’s Legacy Award was presented to the landmark PBS documentary series Eyes on the Prize, with many of the key creative team behind the film on hand to accept the award. A screening of the series’ Oscar-nominated episode Bridge to Freedom: 1965 occurred last night at the Museum of the Moving Image, followed by a conversation with series producer/writer/directors Orlando Bagwell, Callie Crowley, Samuel Pollard, James A. McVinney, Judith Vecchione and series producer Jon Else.

The 12th Annual Cinema Eye Honors were presented at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York and were streamed live via the Museum of the Moving Image and Cinema Eye Honors Facebook pages. Filmmaker Steve James, a winner for Outstanding Series for America to Me, was the host. Presenters included Chris Hegedus, Yance Ford, Ezra Edelman, Caroline Waterlow, Orlando Bagwell, Judith Vecchione, Liz Garbus, Matthew Heineman, Morgan Neville, Kimberly Reed, Dan Cogan, Anna Zamecka, RaMell Ross, Sandi Tan, and Bing Liu.

The Awards Ceremony capped a week of events that brought together nonfiction filmmakers from around the globe. Cinema Eye was founded in 2007 as a protest of that year’s existing awards which had failed to recognize many of the year’s top artistic achievements. In the decade since Cinema Eye has become one of the largest international gatherings of nonfiction filmmakers and craftspersons. Cinema Eye was the first organization to present an award for Production, Cinematography, Original Score and Graphic Design in Nonfiction Film, and the first, aside from the guilds, to recognize Direction and Editing.

A full list of Cinema Eye winners follows.

Outstanding Achievement
in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking

  • Hale County This Morning, This Evening

    Directed by RaMell Ross Produced by Joslyn Barnes, Su Kim, and RaMell Ross

Outstanding Achievement
in Direction

  • Bing Liu

    For Minding the Gap

Outstanding Achievement
in Editing

  • Joshua Altman and Bing Liu

    For Minding the Gap

Outstanding Achievement
in Production

  • Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes, and Shannon Dill

    For Free Solo

Outstanding Achievement
in Cinematography

  • Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin, and Mikey Schaeffer

    For Free Solo

Outstanding Achievement
in Original Music Score

  • Ishai Adair

    For Shirkers

Outstanding Achievement
in Graphic Design or Animation

  • Lucas Celler and Sandi Tan

    For Shirkers

Outstanding Achievement
in a Debut Feature Film

  • Minding the Gap

    Directed by Bing Liu

Audience Choice Prize

  • Free Solo

    Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin

Outstanding Achievement
in Nonfiction Film for Broadcast

  • Baltimore Rising

    Directed by Sonja Sohn

Outstanding Achievement
in Nonfiction Film for Broadcast

  • America to Me

    Directed by Steve James

Spotlight Award

  • The Distant Barking of Dogs

    Directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont

Outstanding Achievement
in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking

  • My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes

    Directed by Charlie Tyrell

Heterodox Award

  • American Animals

    Directed by Bart Layton

Legacy Award

  • Eyes On the Prize

    Executive Producer Henry Hampton
    Series Producer/Writer/Director Judith Vecchione
    Series Producer Jon Else
    Director/Writer/Producers Orlando Bagwell, Sheila Curran Bernard, Callie Crossley, James A. DeVinney, Madison D. Lacy, Thomas Ott, Samuel D. Pollard, Terry Kay Rockefeller, Jacqueline Shearer, and Paul Stekler