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2014 Cinema Eye Winners Revealed

The Act of Killing, the acclaimed Danish film that features former Indonesian death squad leaders re-enacting their crimes, was named the Outstanding Feature at the 7th Annual Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens tonight with hosts and Cinema Eye Chair Esther Robinson and Founding Director AJ Schnack, and opening remarks from Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11). Filmmaker Steve James (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters) presented the award to director Joshua Oppenheimer and producer Signe Byrge Sørensen, who earlier in the evening picked up the prize for Outstanding Production.

Sarah Polley was named the year’s Outstanding Director for Stories We Tell, her personal exploration of memory and storytelling. Last year’s winners for directing, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Detropia, Jesus Camp), presented Polley her award.

Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer, a portrait of the relationship between two New York artists, received a leading three honors, including Outstanding Debut for Heinzerling, Outstanding Graphics and Animation for Art Jail and Noriko Shinohara and Outstanding Original Score for Yasuaki Shimizu.

The Outstanding Editing award was presented by legendary editor Thelma Schoonmaker to Nels Bangerter for Let the Fire Burn, while the award for Cinematography went to Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel for Levithan.

Schoonmaker said she could not have cut the improvisations in The Wolf of Wall Street if it had not been for her earlier work in documentary film (ie, Woodstock). “We (Scorsese and herself) just worshiped the Cinema Verite pioneers, some of whom are here tonight…like Albert Maysles.”

HBO Documentary Films’ The Crash Reel, directed by Lucy Walker, was named the first recipient of the Cinema Eye Television Award, designed to recognize collaborations between filmmakers and broadcasters.

Dave Grohl’s Sound City won the Audience Choice Prize, voted on by the public. More than 44,000 votes were cast for the award, a record-busting total (the previous high was just over 10,000) for the category. In a video acceptance, Grohl danced to Abba’s Dancing Queen to express his excitement.

This year’s Legacy Award was presented to the landmark 1976 film Harlan County, USA, about a brutal coal strike in Kentucky. 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. Director Barbara Kopple accepted the award on behalf of the film. In an opening tribute to the film’s use of music and it’s questioning of viewer and filmmaker objectivity, They Might Be Giants’ John Flansburgh and filmmaker Josh Fox joined Cinema Eye Founding Director AJ Schnack with a version of the protest classic, “Which Side Are You On?”

Kopple thanked Cinema Eye for the honor and a clip of Kopple accepting her Academy Award was played. “Showing this Academy Award piece brought back a lot of memories,” Kopple said. “I think the most profound memory was that night they put all the documentarians together. And when that award came up, we criss-crossed arms together…what it said to me was I am part of the community…we have each other’s back.”

Fox later received Cinema Eye’s “Hell Yeah” Prize, given for his two HBO Documentary Films, Gasland and Gasland II, which have spurred a nationwide, grassroots movement that calls attention to the environmental risks of hydraulic fracking, an issue that was largely unheard of prior to the first Gasland film’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010. The Hell Yeah Prize is a periodic award, given to filmmakers who have created works of incredible craft and artistry that also have significant, real-world impact.

“Cinema Eye is guilty for making me miss a protest this afternoon in Albany,” Fox said regarding the over 1,000 New Yorkers who came out to tell Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban fracking in New York State. Fox then asked the audience to stand up and put their hands up in the air and shout “Hell Yeah!”, to take a twitter pic to send to Gov. Cuomo and President Barack Obama.

Lisa Fischer, named one of Cinema Eye’s “Unforgettables” – a list of this year’s notable and significant nonfiction film subjects for her appearance in Morgan Neville’s 20 Feet From Stardom – brought the audience to cheer as she performed the song Fever.

The following is a complete list of Cinema Eye Honors winners for 2014:

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking

The Act of Killing
Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
Produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen
Presented by Steve James


Outstanding Achievement in Direction

Sarah Polley
Stories We Tell
Presented by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady


Outstanding Achievement in Editing

Nels Bangerter
Let the Fire Burn
Presented by Thelma Schoonmaker

Audience Choice Prize

Sound City
Directed by Dave Grohl
Presented by John Flansburgh and Robin “Goldie” Goldwasser

Outstanding Achievement in Production

Signe Byrge Sørensen
The Act of Killing
Presented by Jennifer Fox and Ross Kauffman

Outstanding Nonfiction Film for Television

The Crash Reel
Directed by Lucy Walker
Produced by Julian Cautherley and Lucy Walker
For HBO Documentary Films: Executive Producer Sheila Nevins and Supervising Producer Sara Bernstein

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking

A Story for the Modlins
Directed by Sergio Oksman
Presented by Kirsten Johnson and Darius Marder

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel
Leviathan
Presented by Kirsten Johnson and Darius Marder

Heterodox Award

Post Tenebras Lux
Directed by Carlos Reygadas
Presented by Jeremy Saulnier and Angela Tucker

Outstanding Achievement in an Original Music Score

Yasuaki Shimizu
Cutie and the Boxer
Presented by Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman

Spotlight Award

The Last Station
Directed by Cristian Soto and Catalina Vergara
Presented by Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman

Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Animation

Art Jail and Noriko Shinohara
Cutie and the Boxer
Presented by Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim

Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film

Zachary Heinzerling
Cutie and the Boxer
Presented by Chris Hegedus and Jehane Noujaim

Legacy Award

Harlan County, USA
Directed and Produced by Barbara Kopple
Presented by Kristi Jacobson

Hell Yeah Prize

Josh Fox
Gasland and Gasland, Part 2
Presented by AJ Schnack