Awards season is in full force. The Golden Globes were last night (Yay Moonlight!). Publicists and studios are working their asses off getting their clients and filmmakers in front of the press. The hosts for the Spirit Awards have been announced. Film critics are a buzz with possible Oscar contenders and FYC ads are popping up everywhere here in Los Angeles.
One of my favorite genres of films, documentaries, are often overlooked during awards season. That’s where the Cinema Eye Honors come into play. This week documentary filmmakers and industry leaders gather in New York City for the tenth annual awards. I’m honored to be a part of the nomination committee for Cinema Eye, but sadly I won’t be able to join in the festivities.
Cinema Eye Honors recognizes outstanding accomplishments and innovation in nonfiction filmmaking. The organization was born out of frustration with how documentaries were recognized in the past, how there was an awards emphasis focused solely on the topic of a documentary and not the artistic approach or craft. As filmmaking technology has gotten easier to put in the hands of artists, the documentary genre has boomed and expanded in exciting ways. While this was happening though, nonfiction filmmakers were not getting a proper spotlight on their work. You’d often hear more about social issue films getting all the awards attention. (In recent years, there have been many changes to the Documentary Branch of the Academy Awards to try to fix that. I’ll let you travel down your own rabbit hole there.)
CEH awards include prizes for cinematography, editing and producing – all elements that make or break a great doc film. There are even awards for graphic design/animation and, always a favorite, the Heterodox Award which recognizes narrative films that incorporate nonfiction filmmaking strategies or style in interesting ways (think Boyhood).
Being on the nomination committee, we watched over 100 eligible films. So many amazing stories and voices. Talk about a hard job. Once our votes were counted, the nominees were announced and now we wait to hear the winners announced on Wednesday. You can take a look at all of the nominees on the CEH website. If you are interested in catching the best documentaries of 2016, I highly recommend checking off the films from this list.
Congrats and good luck to all the nominees!