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Take That, Oscars! Academy-Snubbed "Interrupters" Wins Cinema Eye's Top Prize

Photo of Bryce J. Renninger By Bryce J. Renninger | Indiewire January 12, 2012 at 12:42PM

At last night's documentary community love fest that is the annual Cinema Eye Honors, Steve James' Oscar-snubbed "The Interrupters" took home the award for best feature film and best director. "The Interrupters" examines a group of Chicago citizens who organize to intervene in street disputes.
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Cinema Guild Takes Steve James' Acclaimed "Interrupters"
Steve James's "The Interrupters."

At last night's documentary community love fest that is the annual Cinema Eye Honors, Steve James' Oscar-snubbed "The Interrupters" took home the award for best feature film and best director. "The Interrupters" examines a group of Chicago citizens who organize to intervene in street disputes.

"Tonight, I really don't care about the Oscars," said James. Ameena Matthews, the charismatic subject of his film who was recently named 2011's best film performance by TIME Magazine, countered, "I still care about the Oscars!"

Cindy Meehl's horse-whisperer documentary "Buck" won the Audience Choice Prize.

After receiving the inaugural Hell Yeah Prize, given to honor a documentary with real-world impact, "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" director Joe Berlinger recounted the experience of debuting the first "Paradise Lost" film on HBO.  

"Something magical happened," Berlinger said, "when the first film aired. Tens of thousands of people stepped out and did something." The release of the West Memphis Three in Arkansas has been attributed to Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky's trilogy of "Paradise Lost" films, which all aired on HBO.

The late Tim Hetherington won the award for best short film, and in accepting the award, his mother received a standing ovation after calling her son an inspiration for the family's continued work for global justice.

Previous Cinema Eye winner Jeff Malmberg ("Marwencol") summed up the sentiments from last night's ceremony the best when he remembered something Cinema Eye co-chair AJ Schnack told him when the two first met: "Consider yourself lucky. You get to be a part of a community of people who are doing exactly what they want to be doing."

2012 Cinema Eye Honors

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    Ameena Matthews

    "The Interrupters" subject Ameena Matthews, who has become a member of the documentary community after stops at Sundance, Silverdocs, and True/False is pulled into taking a photo for some audience members.
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    2 of 9

    Joe Berlinger Shares a Moment with Michael Moore

    Joe Berlinger ("Paradise Lost" trilogy), who has expressed disagreement with the new Oscar documentary rules, chats with one of the architects of those rules, Michael Moore.
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    The Cinema Eye Tribute to Justin Bieber

    The Cinema Eye house band treats the audience to a rendition of Justin Bieber's "Baby" as a tribute to nominee "Never Say Never," a nominee for the Audience Award.
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    Charlotte Cook and Ingrid Kopp

    Charlotte Cook, newly minted as Program Director at Toronto's Hot Docs, crossed the border to attend last night's ceremony. She's pictured here with Tribeca New Media Fund's Ingrid Kopp.
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    Cinema Eye Co-Host Esther Robinson

    Cinema Eye co-chair and awards co-host Esther Robinson takes a breather before she goes on stage for the show.
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    Hell Yeah Prize

    "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky accept the Cinema Eye Hell Yeah Prize for their role in releasing the West Memphis 3, including Jason Baldwin (center).
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    7 of 9

    Wiseman accepts Legacy Honor for Titticut Follies

    Frederick Wiseman accepts the Cinema Eye Legacy Award for his first film "Titticut Follies," which was banned at its release. In accepting the award, the filmmaker (who is set to open his new film "Crazy Horse" later this month) joked about how when making a film in a morgue decades ago, the director of the morgue joked that Wiseman would be passing through soon. The 82-year old was in great spirits in telling the story and accepting his award.
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    Gibney Hands James the Best Director Award

    Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side") hands the Cinema Eye for Best Director to Steve James ("The Interrupters").
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    "The Interrupters" Says Screw the Oscars

    Steve James said he temporarily forgot about the Oscars when he accepted his Cinema Eye. Subject Ameena Matthews countered, saying "I still care about the Oscars!" Here, producer Alex Kopowitz says a few words with the street heroes that are the film's subjects.

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking

The Interrupters

Directed by Steve James
Produced by Alex Kotlowitz and Steve James

Outstanding Achievement in Direction
Steve James
The Interrupters

Audience Choice Prize

Buck
Directed by Cindy Meehl
 
Outstanding Achievement in Production
 
Gian-Piero Ringel and Wim Wenders
Pina
 

Outstanding Achievement in Editing

Gregers Sall and Chris King
Senna
 

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

Danfung Dennis
Hell and Back Again
 

Spotlight Award

The Tiniest Place
Directed by Tatiana Huezo Sánchez
 
Heterodox Award
 

Beginners
Directed by Mike Mills

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking
 
Diary
Directed by Tim Hetherington

Outstanding Achievement in an Original Music Score
 

John Kusiak
Tabloid

Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Animation

Rob Feng and Jeremy Landman
Tabloid

Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film

Clio Barnard
The Arbor

Hell Yeah Prize
 

Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
The Paradise Lost Trilogy

Legacy Award

Titicut Follies
Directed by Frederick Wiseman

This article is related to: Cinema Eye Honors, Documentary