Friday night’s third annual Cinema Eye Honors was a happy affair at the New York Times Center in midtown Manhattan. Louie Psihoyos’ documentary, The Cove, won the top prize as well as two more (Production and Cinematography) to lead the night’s winners. While The Cove had three wins, Burma VJ and October Country were right behind with two awards each. Other highlights of the documentary award show: Agnes Varda won Best Director for The Beaches of Agnes, RJ Cutler’s The September Issue won the Audience Choice prize, and Jessica Orek’s Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo won the Spotlight Award, which was intended to honor more obscure docs from 2009. Some great films that earned several nods but unfortunately failed to win anything, included Darius Marder’s Loot and Bill & Turner Ross’ 45365. Does the dominance of The Cove over fellow Oscar contenders such as Food Inc. mean anything for the upcoming Academy Awards? Who knows.
An added highlight to the ceremony this year, was the inaugural Legacy Award, meant to honor a legendary and influential documentary from years ago. The film honored on Friday, was Ross McElwee’s 1986 film Sherman’s March. When McElwee accepted his award, he reflected on how impressive it was to see such a vibrant and friendly nonfiction community in attendance. It was a sentiment echoed by Hearts and Minds (1974) director Peter Davis, who also complimented Cinema Eye co-founder AJ Schnack for leading the charge with his blog, All These Wonderful Things. You can see more of that community in some of these photo recaps from the Cinema Eye Honors this weekend: photos from the Stranged Than Fiction blog and the Shooting People blog.