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Cinema Eye Names Top Documentaries and Directors of the Past Decade

Among the films recognized are Joshua Oppenheimer's "The Act of Killing," Laura Poitras' "Citizenfour" and Banksy's "Exit Through the Gift Shop."

"The Act of Killing"

“The Act of Killing”

Cinema Eye has named 10 filmmakers and 20 films that have been voted as the top achievements in documentary filmmaking during the past 10 years. Founded in 2007 to “recognize and honor exemplary craft and innovation in nonfiction film,” Cinema Eye polled 110 members of the documentary community to determine the winning films and filmmakers just as the organization kicks off its tenth year.

READ MORE: Behind the Scenes of Cinema Eye’s Secret Field Trip for Nominees

Among the films chosen are Joshua Oppenheimer’s “The Act of Killing,” Laura Poitras’ Oscar-winning “Citizenfour” and Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” Poitras and Oppenheimer were both also named to the list of the top documentary filmmakers, joining Alex Gibney, Werner Herzog and Frederick Wiseman, who recently won an honorary Oscar and will be saluted at the annual Governors Awards on November 12.

“It’s fantastic that he is being recognized by the Academy for a whole lifetime of work and our voters also think that in the past decade he’s one of the most vital filmmakers around,” Cinema Eye Founding Director AJ Schnack told IndieWire Wednesday, noting that new talents like Bill and Turner Ross (“Western,” “Tchoupitoulas”) were also named to the list. “The Ross Brothers are some of the most exciting new voices that we’ve heard from in this decade and certainly amongst the top rung in terms of creating the type of work that Cinema Eye was established to recognize.”

Of the 20 films chosen, 17 are former Cinema Eye Honors winners. “That shows that these are films that have not just resonated with Cinema Eye voters in the year that they came out, but that continue to resonate a few years later,” Schnack said.

The films and filmmakers will be honored at an event on November 2 in New York City where Cinema Eye will announce its nominees for the 10th annual Cinema Eye Honors. The awards ceremony will be held on January 11 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, which is also launching a 10-week screening series highlighting films on the new best-of-the-decade list, beginning November 4.

Schnack founded Cinema Eye after noting that many of the documentaries garnering award nominations each year were not reflecting the artistic work being seen at festivals and in theaters.

READ MORE: Oscar-Nominated Doc ‘The Look of Silence’ Leads Cinema Eye Honors

“There was a general sense that a lot of the awards were geared more toward films that had had some kind of social impact as opposed to looking at them as pieces of art,” Schnack said, adding that festivals like True/False, Britdoc and The Camden International Festival were also founded to champion similarly high-quality nonfiction filmmaking. “There were a lot of people who were feeling like we needed to create entities where the first point of interest was artistic accomplishment.”

See below for the full list of Cinema Eye Decade filmmakers and films.

Cinema Eye Decade Filmmakers and their Cinema Eye Honors nominated films:
  • Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady | “12th and Delaware” (2011), “Detropia” (2013), “The Education of Mohammed Hussain” (2014)
  • Alex Gibney | “Taxi to the Dark Side” (2008), “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” (2009), “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God” (2014), “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks” (2014) and “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” (2015).
  • Patricio Guzman | “Nostalgia for the Light” (2012)
  • Werner Herzog | “Encounters at the End of the World” (2009), “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” (2012),  “Into the Abyss” (2013),
  • Steve James | “The Interrupters” (2012), “Life Itself” (2015)
  • Kim Longinotto | “Rough Aunties” (2010), “Dreamcatcher” (2016)
  • Joshua Oppenheimer | “The Act of Killing” (2014), “The Look of Silence” (2016)
  • Laura Poitras | “The Oath” (2011), “Death of a Prisoner” (2014), “Citizenfour” (2015)
  • Bill Ross and Turner Ross | “45365” (2010), “Tchoupitoulas” (2013), “Western” (2016)
  • Frederick Wiseman | “La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet” (2011), “In Jackson Heights” (2016)
Cinema Eye Decade Films and their Cinema Eye Honors wins:
  • “The Act of Killing” (2014) | Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (Outstanding Feature, Production)
  • “The Arbor” (2012) | Directed by Clio Barnard (Outstanding Debut)
  • “Citizenfour” (2015) | Directed by Laura Poitras (Outstanding Feature, Direction, Production, Editing)
  • “Cutie and the Boxer” (2014) | Directed by Zachary Heinzerling (Outstanding Debut, Score, Graphic Design and Animation)
  • “Exit Through the Gift Shop” (2011) | Directed by Banksy (Outstanding Feature, Editing)
  • “How to Survive a Plague” (2013) | Directed by David France (Outstanding Editing)
  • “The Interrupters” (2012) | Directed by Steve James (Outstanding Feature, Direction)
  • “Iraq in Fragments” (2007) | Directed by James Longley
  • “Last Train Home” (2011) | Directed by Lixin Fan (Outstanding Production, Cinematography, International Feature)
  • “Leviathan” (2014) | Directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel (Outstanding Cinematography)
  • “The Look of Silence” (2016) | Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (Outstanding Feature, Direction, Production)
  • “Man on Wire” (2009) | Directed by James Marsh (Outstanding Feature, Production, Editing)
  • “Manda Bala” (Send a Bullet) (2008) | Directed by Jason Kohn (Outstanding Feature, Editing, Cinematography)
  • “Marwencol” (2011) | Directed by Jeff Malmberg (Outstanding Debut)
  • “Nostalgia for the Light” (2012) | Directed by Patricio Guzman
  • “The Oath” (2011) | Directed by Laura Poitras (Outstanding Direction)
  • “The Order of Myths” (2009) | Directed by Margaret Brown
  • “Senna” (2012) | Directed by Asif Kapadia (Outstanding Editing)
  • “Stories We Tell” (2014) | Directed by Sarah Polley (Outstanding Direction)
  • “Waltz With Bashir” (2009) | Directed by Ari Folman (Outstanding Direction, Score, Graphic Design and Animation, International Feature)

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