In the increasingly noisy and contentious documentary race--as beleaguered critics and Oscar doc branch members try to decide which of the overwhelming number of films they should see--every award group nomination makes it easier for them to decide.
Thus, the Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking nominees for the 7th Annual Nonfiction Film Awards were revealed in New York Wednesday night. Zachary Heinzerling’s Sundance hit "Cutie and the Boxer" nabbed six nominations, while Joshua Oppenheimer’s "The Act of Killing" followed with five. Three more well-reviewed fest faves fill out the Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking category: Martha Shane and Lana Wilson’s abortion doc "After Tiller," Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Véréna Paravel’s commercial fishing expose "Leviathan" and Sarah Polley family memoir "Stories We Tell."
Forty feature films and six shorts were vying for this year’s Cinema Eye Honors. Nominees for Outstanding Feature were determined by votes from the 23-person nominations committee as well as more than 80 directors of this year’s eligible films.
The group has added its first annual Nonfiction Films Made for Television award. Four of the six films come from HBO Documentary Films ( Lucy Walker's "The Crash Reel," Dawn Porter’s "Gideon’s Army," Alex Gibney’s "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God" and Sebastian Junger’s "Which Way to the Front Line From Here: The Life and Times of Tim Hetherington"). PBS nabbed the other two nominations, including Susan Lacy’s "Inventing David Geffen" (American Masters) and Christine Turner’s "Homegoings" (POV). The nomination for Junger’s Hetherington film is noteworthy, as Junger and Hetherington were both nominated for two Cinema Eye awards in 2011 for their film "Restrepo," and Hetherington posthumously won the Cinema Eye Honor for Nonfiction Short in 2012 for his film, "Diary."
For the first time in Cinema Eye history, more women were nominated for the Directing Award than their male counterparts--of the 11 filmmakers nominated for Cinema Eye’s top Feature Film award, 7 are women.
Six films were nominated for short film, including Laura Poitras’ "Death of a Prisoner," which first appeared as a New York Times Op-Doc in advance of her ongoing breaking news stories about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Poitras won the Cinema Eye Honor for Direction in 2011 for her film, "The Oath."
There are ten contenders for Cinema Eye’s Audience Choice Prize, which includes high-profile documentaries from Morgan Neville (box office hit "20 Feet From Stardom"), Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s "Blackfish" (from CNN Films) and music docs from Greg “Freddy” Camalier ("Muscle Shoals) and Dave Grohl ("Sound City"). For the first time, a director earned a double nomination: Jehane Noujaim directed "Rafea: Solar Mama," with Mona Eldaeif, as well as Egyptian revolution doc "The Square."
The 7th Annual Cinema Eye Honors winners will be announced in early January 2014 in New York City.
A full list of nominees is below.