This year's winner will be chosen by a jury of documentary filmmakers: Natalia Almada ("El Velador"), Sandi DuBowski ("Trembling Before G-d"), Shannon Kennedy (editor, "A Walk Into the Sea"), Alrick Brown ("Kinyarwanda") and Kimberly Reed ("Prodigal Sons"). The winner will be announced at the Cinema Eye ceremony at the Museum of the Moving Image on January 11.
The nominees follow. Descriptions provided by Cinema Eye Honors.
"Beginners." Drawing from autobiographical elements, including his relationship to his dying father, Mike Mills has made a sensitive, insightful, and whimsically funny ode to romance and reinvention. Starring Ewen McGregor, Melanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer, Beginners mixes drama with not only humor but also brief documentary essays that examine everything from art to the history of California gay culture.
"The Lips." Ivan Fund and Santiago Loza's Argentine picture, "The Lips" ("Los Labios"), a subtle and challenging mix of documentary and narrative filmmaking, follows three women who deeply inhabit their cinematic roles as social workers interacting with members of an impoverished rural Argentine community. Facing desperate poverty that threatens to overwhelm even the greatest reserves of calm, humor, and empathy, the trio moves into makeshift living quarters and records data on the needs of the community, while still taking time for an occasional night out.
"The Mill and the Cross." Lech Majewski's The Mill and the Cross is an epic restaging of and journey into Pieter Bruegel's celebrated 1564 painting, "Way to Calvary." Rutger Hauer stars as Bruegel, Michael York is his art collector friend, and Charlotte Rampling is the inspiration for his Virgin Mary. Majewski explores not only the rich iconography of this work but, using digital technology to make his picture a dialogue with not only the past but the nature of creativity itself.
"My Joy." Ukranian documentary director Sergei Loznitsa made his debut drama with My Joy, a harshly riveting journey through the countryside of contemporary Russia. Following a truck driver as he makes his various deliveries, Loznitsa draws upon his own experience shooting and traveling through the Russian provinces in this bold and terrifying film.
"Snow on tha Bluff." As authentic a document of the life of a young, black, crack-dealing single parent as you will ever see, Damon Russell's "Snow on tha Bluff" audaciously mixes footage from the camcorder of the film's real-life inspiration with dramatic scenes to create a sometimes indecipherable mixture of real life and fiction, documentary authenticity and cultural mythmaking.