The tenth annual Cinema Eye Honors awards ceremony, which took place in New York on Wednesday evening, brought together a large documentary community who pledged to continue bringing important stories to light during the next four years under President-elect Donald Trump.
At an awards luncheon earlier in the week, Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple, the director of the 2015 documentary “Miss Sharon Jones!,” gave a heartfelt tribute to the late funk and soul singer Sharon Jones, who succumbed to cancer in November following a three-year battle with the disease.
“I don’t know what words I can use to say how much I love and respect Sharon Jones,” Kopple said. “She embraced life like nobody could. You would see her in a room where people were getting chemotherapy and she would just bring sunshine and humor and hope to all of them. It was just incredibly beautiful…Doing this film was the biggest honor of my life.”
At the awards ceremony Wednesday at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image, Cinema Eye founding director A.J. Schnack talked about the importance of unity in the documentary community.
“When I stood at the IFC Center almost 10 years ago and addressed the crowd, I said that when I looked out at the people in the audience, I didn’t see activists and I didn’t see journalists — I saw artists. I see that again tonight,” Schnack said. “That first year I said that the future of nonfiction is to stand with artists, and it still is, but I want to add an addendum to that this year, which is that the future of nonfiction is to stand together. I pledge to you that not just with an awards show or any other thing I do, I will stand here.”
Here are some short excerpts from just a few of the winners of the 2017 Cinema Eye Honors.
Kirsten Johnson: Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking – “Cameraperson”
“I need all the other cinematographers to get down here right now,” Johnson said, summoning the other directors of photography who were nominated. “We’re still all damn white people. We’ve got a lot of boys. We have work to do people. There are a lot of other people who need to be up here, so let’s get it done. Hire some people who don’t look like us please.”
Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos: Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Film Made for Television – “Making a Murderer”
“It is such an honor to be standing here tonight in this room amongst all of you who have inspired us. What you do promoting understanding is just incredibly valuable,” Ricciardi said. “We must also thank our subjects. Two of our subjects happen to be serving life in prison as we speak. Of course there was also Teresa Halbach, who never was lost to us, and we still hope to have the privilege of sharing more of her story with all of you.”
Keith Maitland: Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation – “Tower”
“This movie is about community and it’s been incredible to feel like we are welcome into this community. We live in a great film community down in Austin, Texas and sometimes we feel a little out of the slipstream of what’s happening but it’s been an exciting year to get out and meet you all.”
Clay Tweel: Audience Choice Prize – “Gleason”
“It was a long five years to get this movie made. Most importantly I want to thank Steve and Michel Gleason. They invited the cameras and were incredibly forthright and vulnerable in a way I’ve never seen before…This movie above all else, above ALS or football, really is a movie about love and resilience, and I think we need those things more than ever.”