Cinema Eye Honors kicks off documentary awards race


“City So Real” and “American Utopia” topped the Cinema Eye Honors nominations list with three nods each.

Cinema Eye Honors, an influential indicator in the documentary awards race, kicked off its 15th year with non-fiction winners announced at its annual luncheon in Los Angeles attended by many top filmmakers. Steve James’ Chicago Five-Part Series “City So Real” and Film Portrait of Spike Lee from David Byrne’s Broadway Show “American Utopia” Top the Cinema Eye Honors Nominations with Three Nods each. “David Byrne’s American Utopia” is one of five films in the running for Outstanding Release Film, while “City So Real” joins five other series in the Non-Fictional Series category. Both projects were nominated for Outstanding Publishing and Broadcast Cinematography.

“It’s remarkable that this year’s two most nominated streaming entries are part of Diane Weyermann’s creative legacy,” said Cinema Eye founding director AJ Schnack. The beloved documentary veteran, who passed away last week, was executive producer on both “City So Real” and “American Utopia.”

As Steve James continues his run as the most nominated filmmaker in Cinema Eye history, with a total of 13 total nominations, Lee joins the ranks of Cinema Eye for the first time. This is the third nod to its director of photography, Ellen Kuras (“The Betrayal”).

Cinema Eye, founded in 2007 to recognize excellence in arts and crafts in making non-fiction films, is the only international non-fiction award to recognize the entire creative team.

For the first time, Cinema Eye is presenting an award for an anthology series, recognizing episodic non-fiction. Among the inaugural nominees are Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz for “Pretend It’s a City”, Nathan Fielder and John Wilson for “Comment faire avec John Wilson”, Fabienne Toback, Karis Jagger and Roger Ross Williams for “High on the Hog: How La African American cuisine has changed America ”, and Padma Lakshmi for“ Taste the Nation with Padme Lakshmi ”.

HBO topped all networks and platforms with 14 nominations, including two for “How To Do With John Wilson.” Nominations for the films released are for “In the Same Breath” by Nanfu Wang and “Tina” by Daniel Lindsay and TJ Martin. “Disclosure,” a Netflix original about the importance of transgender portrayal in media, and Stacey Abrams documentary, “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” round out the nominees for the Broadcast Film.

Asif Kapadia, previously nominated for his films “Senna” and Oscar-winning “Amy,” returns to Cinema Eye with his Apple Original series “1971: The Year Music Changed Everything”. Raoul Peck, who was nominated for his Oscar nominated film “I Am Not Your Negro”, is in the running for his HBO series “Exterminate All the Brutes”. Greg Whiteley is nominated this year for “Last Chance U: Basketball”. “The Lady and the Dale” and “Philly DA” round out the nominees for the Nonfiction series.

Cinema Eye Honors presents the Legacy Award to Cheryl Dunye’s iconic 1996 independent film, “The Watermelon Woman,” which recognizes a classic film that continues to inspire filmmakers today. When he debuted 25 years ago, “The Watermelon Woman” was the opening narrative feature debut by a black gay filmmaker. Dunye played a version of herself, a documentary filmmaker determined to uncover the story of black actress Fae Richards, credited only as “The Watermelon Woman” in a film called “Plantation Memories.”

This year’s Cinema Eye Honors annual short list includes 11 semi-finalists for its Nonfiction Short Film Honor, due to a tie vote.

The full list of Cinema Eye nominations will be announced in three weeks, Wednesday, November 10. The 15th annual Cinema Eye Honors and Cinema Eye Week will take place in January, with dates to be announced in the coming weeks.

Broadcast film
“All In: The fight for democracy”
Directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés | Amazon

“The American Utopia of David Byrne”
Directed by Spike Lee | HBO

Directed by Sam Feder | Netflix

“In the same breath”
Directed by Nanfu Wang | HBO

Directed by Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin | HBO

Steve James directs “City So Real”.


Non-fiction series

“1971: the year when music changed everything”
Directed by Asif Kapadia, Danielle Peck and James Rogan | Apple

“City so real”
Directed by Steve James | National Geographic

“Exterminate all the bullies”
Directed by Raoul Peck | HBO

“The lady and the valley”
Directed by Zackary Drucker and Nick Cammilleri | HBO

“U last chance: basketball”
Directed by Greg Whiteley, Adam Leibowitz and Daniel George McDonald | Netflix

“Philly DA”
Directed by Yoni Brook, Ted Passon and Nicole Salazar | Independent lens / PBS

“Pretend it’s a town”

Courtesy of Netflix

Anthology series

“The Earth at night in color”
Alex Williamson, executive producer | Apple

“Generation Hustle”
Angie Day and Yon Motskin, executive producers | HBO Max

“How to deal with John Wilson”
Directed by Nathan Fielder, Michael Koman, Clark Reinking and John Wilson, executive producers | HBO

“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America”
Fabienne Toback, Karis Jagger and Roger Ross Williams, Executive Producers | Netflix

“Pretend it’s a town”
Martin Scorsese, Fran Lebowitz, David Tedeschi, Ted Griffin, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Joshua Porter and Margaret Bodde, executive producers | Netflix

“Taste the Nation with Padme Lakshmi”
Padma Lakshmi, David Shadrack Smith and Sarina Roma, executive producers | Hulu

"Allen vs. Farrow"

“Allen vs. Farrow”


Broadcast montage

“Allen vs. Farrow”
Mikaela Shwer, Parker Laramie and Sara Newens | HBO

“City so real”
David E. Simpson and Steve James | National Geographic

“The American Utopia of David Byrne”
Adam Gough | HBO

“Exterminate all the bullies”
Alexandra Strauss | HBO

“How to deal with John Wilson”
Adam Locke-Norton | HBO

Exceptional broadcast cinematography

“100-foot wave”
Nominees to be determined | HBO

“City so real”
Jackson James and Steve James | National Geographic

“The American Utopia of David Byrne”
Ellen Kuras | HBO

“The Earth at night in color”
Nominees to be determined | Apple

“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America”
Jerry Henry | Netflix

Heritage Award

“The watermelon woman”
Written and directed by Cheryl Dunye
Produced by Alexandra Juhasz and Barry Swimar
Edited by Annie Taylor
Photography Michelle Crenshaw
Original music Paul Shapiro

List of short films

Directed by Maite Zubiaurre & Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

“The last cruise”
Directed by Hannah Olson

“A broken heart”
Directed by Jimmy Goldblum

“To resume”
Directed by Emma Francis-Snyder

“Contagion of terror”
Directed by Laura Poitras

“Don’t go tell your mom”
Directed by Topaz Jones

“Three songs for Benazir”
Directed by Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei

Directed by Michèle Stephenson

“We were there to be there”
Directed by Mike Plante and Jason Willis

“Jobs for all!
Directed by Axel Danielson & Maximillien Van Aertryck

“Your street”
Directed by Güzin Kar

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