Awards Season: Cinema Eye Honors ’17

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.)

unforgettables_collage-update
A collage of “The Unforgettables” nominees, the year’s most notable and significant nonfiction film subjects.

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!

Shorts & Snacks: We’ll Find Something (2015)

Well, did you survive Thanksgiving? Did you eat your weight in turkey and pumpkin pie? I think I was rather successful in my attempt. I have returned from my coastal escape and it’s time to get back to work. Since it’s only Monday and we’re still easing into the week, it’s ok to take a short break and have a snack I think. Perhaps some leftovers, yeah?

In that spirit (and for those of you who financially supported America’s economy last Friday), I think Casey Gooden’s short film We’ll Find Something would be appropriate for today. Indie darlings Shane Carruth and Amy Seimetz star in this short about a couple struggling to find a restaurant in New York City.

Shane Carruth is one of the more mysterious filmmakers in American cinema. He broke on to the film scene with his film Primer. Years later, he appeared again at Sundance with Upstream Color. His films are complex and beautiful. Even trying to explain his work is often simplifying all the various ideas and layers present. This time Carruth is back in front of the camera while his producing partner, Casey Gooden, writes and directs.

One reason why I love this short is because most of us have been in this situation: You’re out shopping with your partner or close friend. As the day goes on, the two of you become hungry. Each place you stop to eat, there’s a problem. Everything seems to go downhill from there. Then suddenly, you realize what you’re arguing about may have nothing to do with the actual problem at hand. Gooden captures this moment perfectly.

Time to grab your favorite leftovers (I’m a fan of a turkey sandwich with cranberry sauce) and enjoy We’ll Find Something. Has this happened to you before? Let me know in the comments!

We’ll Find Something
Directed by Casey Gooden
2015 / 12 min / USA
A couple struggles to choose a restaurant while visiting New York.