Back to IndieWire

“Wire,” “Bashir” Top Cinema Eye Doc Awards

"Wire," "Bashir" Top Cinema Eye Doc Awards

James Marsh’s “Man on Wire” and Ari Folman’s “Waltz With Bashir” were amomg the big winners tonight at the second Cinema Eye Awards, honoring outstanding achievement in documentary filmmaking. Marsh’s film won the Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking prize and the production and editing prizes, while “Waltz With Bashir” won four awards including achievement in directing, music, graphic design and animation, and best international feature.

2009 Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking winners

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Filmmaking

“Man on Wire,” produced by James Marsh and Simon Chinn

Outstanding Achievement in Direction

Ari Folman, “Waltz With Bashir”

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

Peter Zeitlinger for “Encounters at the End of the World”

Outstanding Achievement in Editing

Jinx Godfrey, “Man on Wire”

Outstanding Achievement in Grapic Design and Animation

“Waltz With Bashir”

Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition

Max Richter for “Waltz With Bashir”

Outstanding Achievement in International Feature

“Waltz with Bashir,” Directed by Ari Folman and produced by Ari Folman, Serge Lalou, Gerhard Meixner, Yael Nahlieli and Roman Paul

Outstanding Achievement in Debut Feature

Yung Chang, “Up the Yangtze”

Audience Choice Prize

“Up the Yangtze,” Yung Chang

This Article is related to: News and tagged


aj schnack

I’m mostly content to let people argue through these issues, but wanted to at least clear up some errors. While nominations come from a pool of top festival programmers from throughout the world, the awards themselves are voted on by a larger cross-section of folks from throughout the community, including filmmakers, film critics & writers, distributors, curators, etc.

Deborah Statman’s latest film is eligible for next year’s Cinema Eye Honors. Jim Finn’s THE JUCHE IDEA is not yet eligible, but may become eligible, depending on whether it fulfills the eligibility requirements. Guy Maddin certainly is a filmmaker that pushes “the creative limits of documentary” but perhaps you are looking for those who are less well known or work with tighter budgetary constraints. THE BETRAYAL was nominated for two Cinema Eye Honors, and there were nominations for LIFE. SUPPORT. MUSIC, THROW DOWN YOUR HEART, ANVIL and several other films that either had no big distributor/TV network behind them or are still searching for distribution.

UP THE YANGTZE was nominated for four awards. The Audience Choice Prize is voted by those who go to the Cinema Eye website – not a selection committee.

I would never argue that our system is perfect – although we try to be as transparent and open about the way it works as possible – but if there are those who’d like to debate it, I want you to have the correct information.


“Waltz with Bashir” had a $2 million budget. “Man on Wire” has already earned more than $5 million at the box office. I can’t find budget numbers for “Encounters” but presumably they are in the $1 – $2 million range. Of course these numbers are ‘small’ compared to what is considered low-budget for a fiction feature film, but it is simply naive to think that these significant financial stats do not impact programming (and therefore award-making) decisions – too many people (i.e. funders, distributors, marketers) have too much at stake (which is not to say I am critical of these films per se, this is not about content). Exhibit A: (admittedly off the top of my head ): consider at the huge marketing push behind the $6 million (!) animated mess of a film that was “Chicago 10.”

Girlsrockmovie – sorry if I came across as too harsh – I definitely think you said it best.

Tape stock – I know enough about “the relationship between documentary and money” to know that programmers are under tremendous pressure from distributors & broadcast outlets and that festivals would be DEAD without the largesse of Target, Stella Artois and co. To repeat: to think that programming & award decisions are made in the name of ‘art’ and utterly untainted by the demands of the film marketplace is patently absurd, and maybe even a little self-serving….? It’s the high-brow version of Ken Burns’ relationship with GM, no more, no less.


1. dkaufmann and i have very different definitions of “signficant corporate and media largesse”.

2. i agree that more critics/less programmers for the selection committee would be refreshing.

3. hooray for up the yangtze


While I wouldn’t be so harsh as dkaufmann, I commented about this on Schnack’s blog way back when the idea was first cooking. Bringing together programmers of festivals who are already choosing documentaries for laurels and by extension theatrical exhibition possibilities (Sundance, Toronto, etc) makes this fairly redundant. If you are a filmmaker who didn’t get into either of those festivals, your chances of getting distribution or attention or anything are already slim. And so many festivals program then based on their selections. Why should the same gatekeepers who already hold the key to that door be the ones who decided on this award? I actually really loved both Waltz With Bashir and Man on Wire, but does it really matter that the same people who already chose them for their festivals and then chose them for jury prizes are also now awarding them here? Even if the same movies won, i would love to see a selection committee with a more heavy representation from noted critics (notice I didn’t say reviewers), filmmakers and maybe artists or something, and less on the festival programmers. This would at least give the prize a different heft. For instance, I noticed that my actual favorite doc of the year also won the Audience Award, “Up the Yangtze”. While Yangtze is hardly an obscure or un-awarded movie, it is certainly less mainstream ready than Man on Wire or Waltz with Bashir (less than half the box office). Which makes me think the “Audience” of this award may be a better selection committee…I’d love to see what else it would come up with. I realize that it makes things easier to have a selection committee made up of folks who’ve already seen a lot of movies, but unfortunately that’s also what makes the award less meaningful in my mind. It’s a noble and needed idea, and I was truly excited to see Billy the Kid win last year, but in general it doesn’t feel different enough from everything else to be invaluable. But then again, when have awards ever been invaluable anyway?

Tape Store

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a bit disappointed with the results, but this “fake-sincere-but-actually-cynical attempt to maximize revenues for the mainstream” line is total bullshit (jesus christ, dkaufmann, do you know anything about the relationship between documentary and money?).
Cinema Eye is an award chosen by festival programmers. It’s not an attempt to champion the best unseen film of the year (dkaufmann, i’d recommend that you start this, but based on your recommendations, I actually don’t think you’ve seen as much good creative work as you seem to think you have). It’s about championing the best documentary of the year, and for many–not me, note–MAN ON WIRE was the best. It just so happens that the Academy agreed (I’m pretty sure Schnack has talked about this situation in past interviews, by the way).
This year, I was happy to see FORBIDDEN LIE$ make the shortlist, but I wish some others–THE MOTHER and THE MOSQUITO PROBLEM, for instance–had received some recognition. Also, I’d like to point out that Cinema Eye gave the big awards to MANDA BALA and BILLY THE KID last year, neither of which was nominated for the Oscar.


Must agree with the above post. It seems that the choices made, as worthy as they are, simply point out the redundancy of this award.
Betsy A. McLane


It’s depressing that what could have been an award that expanded the honors and audiences for docs off the radar, that Cinema Eye is so slavishly predictable. Yes, the nominated films are very worthy and I mean them no disrespect, but the echo chamber of POV/Sundance/Toronto is joined by Cinema Eye and welcomes us to More of the Same. An alternative to the Academy? Please. Where are other highly worthy films/ filmmakers who really do push the creative limits of documentary (Jim Finn, Naomi Uman, Deborah Stratman)? Where are amazingly engaging more formally traditional films deserving of a broader audience (Crawford, The Linguists, et al)? Cinema Eye feels like a fake-sincere-but-actually-cynical attempt to maximize revenues for the mainstream, audience-friendly (mainly) theatrical docs which have already benefitted from signficant corporate and media largesse. Even the Academy, in its surprising acknowledgement of “The Betrayal,” casts a wider net.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *