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Cinema Eye Honors 2013: '5 Broken Cameras' Wins Outstanding Feature, 'Detropia' for Outstanding Direction, and 'The War Room' Honored with Legacy Award

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood January 10, 2013 at 11:49AM

The Cinema Eye Honors is a cozy event, packed with documentary filmmakers who go way back. Held at the sleek Museum of the Moving Image in New York, the group attending the sixth annual Honors ceremony is jovial, encouraging, and accepting -- exemplified by the range of attire. Co-chair Esther Robinson recounted the numerous phone calls from people asking what to wear and summarized the evening’s garb: “Well, Michael Moore wears a sweatshirt, and I wear a gown, so anything in between.”
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'Detropia' by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
'Detropia' by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady

The Cinema Eye Honors is a cozy event, packed with documentary filmmakers who go way back. Held at the sleek Museum of the Moving Image in New York, the group attending the sixth annual Honors ceremony is jovial, encouraging, and accepting -- exemplified by the range of attire. Co-chair Esther Robinson recounted the numerous phone calls from people asking what to wear and summarized the evening’s garb: “Well, Michael Moore wears a sweatshirt, and I wear a gown, so anything in between.” Moore took the stage twice, once to present the legacy award to D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus for “The War Room,” and once to accept the prize on behalf of Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi for the Outstanding Feature, “5 Broken Cameras.”  Moore championed this Palestinian documentary at his own film festival this past year.

Mims and Tippet

The evening began with toasts to two figures in the documentary world that had died the previous year: Chris Marker, French documentarian and filmmaker, best known for 1962’s “La Jetee” as well as Adam Yauch.  Yauch’s independent production company Oscilloscope boasted a few films up for Cinema Eye Honors, including “Only the Young” co-directed by Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims, which took home the Debut Feature honors.

Tippet and Mims’s win kept with the theme for the evening -- a hearty number of duos, pairs, and co-headliners.  The Legacy Honor went to a revered joint effort: Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s “The War Room.”  The 1993 film, which turns twenty this year, has stuck in the hearts of filmmakers present at the festival, who leaped up to give the film a standing ovation. Michael Moore introduced the Legacy Award and noted that “The War Room” is not only the seminal film of its kind, but also “the last of its kind.” It was most likely the last crew that got this type of access to a Presidential campaign before the subjects “got wise.”  Moore said that when political teams realized they could control the message if they filmed it themselves, they kept documentarians out of the way. The candor in “The War Room” ultimately attracted a large outside audience -- despite, according to the co-directors -- an initial inability to sell the feature.  “No one wanted it,” said Pennebaker, "so there was a 'fuck it' moment." Then suddenly, with the championing of Bingham Ray, it was a success. The team recounted several stops and starts, including getting to Little Rock to film a little known Presidential contestant, not finding anyone interesting, and then turning the wide-angle lens to one of the most entertaining figures in American politics: the raging Cajun James Carville.  

A co-directing team also won for Outstanding Direction: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady co-directors of “Detropia."  Marshall Curry (“If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front,” “Racing Dreams”) presented the Award with a thoughtful exploration of what it means to direct a documentary film.  He quoted Hitchcock’s tautology that a director of a fiction film is god, while in non-fiction films, god is the director.  Curry also gracefully noted that the role of the director of a documentary must be humble: a good documentary director is like a CIA agent -- if you do a good job, no one even knows that you were there.

The winners were delighted to be among peers and participated in a healthy amount of hat-tipping to the great filmmakers among the audience crowd -- including Al Maysles (“Grey Gardens”). Lee Hirsh accepted the Audience Prize for “Bully,” which received a record number of audience votes -- 4,500 people chimed in to support the film.  “How to Survive a Plague” won for editing and “Chasing Ice" for cinematography. Jem Cohen accepted the Heterodox Honors for “Museum Hours” recognizing the Cinema Eye Honors and Filmmaker Magazine for recognizing that “things don’t fit into boxes.”  The presenters were mostly game, some putting on crisp English accents because they heard “being a self-effacing Brit is in this year.” During the presentation for “cinematography,” there was a cute recount of presenter Darius Marder's daughter declaring that “cinnamon-tography” certainly sounded like the most interesting profession in film.  

5 Broken Cameras

The Cinema Eye Honors ended with Moore accepting the Outstanding Feature award for “5 Broken Cameras.”  Moore also noted that he is fighting for documentaries in the Academy, doubling the number of documentary filmmakers in the documentary branch. (Moore is a member of the academy's Board of Governors and the documentary branch's executive committee.) Winning directors, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, couldn't attend the event but asked Moore to accept in case they won.  Moore noted that the film, which was shot over five years, was created by filmmakers with zero training. It became a beautiful, fluid, artistic film, that has a transformative power over the audience, said Moore, who acted as a champion of the film. This was a movie, he said, that revealed something that the news couldn’t show - something documentaries should fight to achieve.

FULL LIST OF AWARDS:


Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking
“5 Broken Cameras”
Directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
Produced by Christine Camdessus, Serge Gordey, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi
Presented by Chris Hegedus & D A Pennebaker

Outstanding Achievement in Direction
Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
“Detropia”
Presented by Marshall Curry

Audience Choice Prize
“Bully”
Directed by Lee Hirsch
Presented by Andrea Meditch

Outstanding Achievement in Production
Dimitri Doganis
“The Imposter”
Presented by Daniel Chalfen and Judith Helfand

Outstanding Achievement in Editing
T. Woody Richman and Tyler H. Walk
“How to Survive a Plague”
Presented by Daniel Chalfen and Judith Helfand

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Jeff Orlowski
“Chasing Ice”
Presented by Jennie Livingston and Darius Marder

Spotlight Award
“Argentinian Lesson”
Directed by Wojciech Staron
Presented by Jennie Livingston and Darius Marder

Heterodox Award
“Museum Hours”
Directed by Jem Cohen
Presented by Marie Therese Guirgis and Eugene Hernandez

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking
“Goodbye Mandima (Kwa Heri Mandima) ”
Directed by Robert-Jan Lacombe
Presented by Laura Gabbert and Sam Green

Outstanding Achievement in an Original Music Score
Dial.81
“Detropia”
Presented by Laura Gabbert and Sam Green

Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Animation
Oskar Gullstrand and Arvid Steen
“Searching for Sugar Man”
Presented by Jonathan Caouette and Susan Froemke

Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film
Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims
“Only the Young”
Presented by Jonathan Caouette and Susan Froemke

Legacy Award
“The War Room”
Directed by Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker
Produced by R.J. Cutler, Wendy Ettinger and Frazer Pennebaker
Presented by Michael Moore

This article is related to: Documentary, 5 Broken Cameras, Chasing Ice, DETROPIA


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