Vote Now for the 2014 Audience Choice Prize
Ten films, including a number of the most talked-about and debated documentaries of the year, are amongst this year’s Audience Choice nominees. They are:
20 Feet from Stardom – Directed by Morgan Neville
The Act of Killing – Directed by Joshua Oppenheimer
Blackfish – Directed by Gabriela Cowperthwaite
The Crash Reel – Directed by Lucy Walker
Cutie and the Boxer – Directed by Zachary Heinzerling
Muscle Shoals – Directed by Greg ‘Freddy’ Camalier
Rafea: Solar Mama – Directed by Mona Eldaief & Jehane Noujaim
Sound City – Directed by Dave Grohl
The Square – Directed by Jehane Noujaim
Stories We Tell – Directed by Sarah Polley
As part of Cinema Eye’s ongoing partnership with the Hot Docs Film Festival, all ten of this year’s films will be screened at the Hot Docs Bloor Cinema from December 25 to January 2. For more information about the Bloor screenings, visit: http://bloorcinema.com/cinema-eye-audience-choice-nominees/
The public can vote for the 2014 Audience Choice Prize on the Cinema Eye Honors website at http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/vote or by sending a tweet to @cinemaeyehonors with the name of the film of their choice. [For example: @cinemaeyehonors I vote for Bully!]. Voting will be open through Monday, January 6, 2014.
“The Audience Choice Prize is one of our favorite awards because it celebrates the rich connection between films and audiences,” said Cinema Eye Founding Director AJ Schnack. “These films can bring audiences to their feet, may prompt boycotts and often take social media by storm. This award celebrates great films and their lasting and continuing impact.”]]>
Starting a new tradition, Cinema Eye has announced “The Unforgettables” – a list of this year’s notable and significant nonfiction film subjects. The focus of 15 films, these seventeen people (and one bull orca) were selected by votes from more than 80 of this year’s eligible filmmakers as well as Cinema Eye’s nominations committee. With “The Unforgettables” we acknowledge and honor the heart and soul of documentary films: our subjects.
In the 2010 Oscar®-nominated exposé Gasland, director Josh Fox profiled hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the process of injecting a pressurized mixture of water, sand and chemicals down a drilled well, causing layers of rock deep in the earth to crack and release natural gas. The film inspired a national dialogue over the multi-layered environmental dangers at risk. With Gasland Part II, Fox examines the long-run impact of the controversial process, including poisonous water, earthquakes and neurological damage, placing his focus on the people whose lives have been irreparably changed. Traveling from the Gulf of Mexico to the heart of Texas and back up to the Delaware River basin, he thoroughly investigates the effects of this once-touted energy source, as well as the industry’s equally disturbing reaction to negative claims via smear campaigns and lawsuits. Gasland Part II shows how the anti-fracking movement has done its best to amplify its message while the million-dollar conglomerates employ PSY-OPS tactics to shut it down. Unnerving interviews and shocking data underscore this scathing indictment of unregulated industry in Fox’s powerful, not-to-be-missed follow-up. (Tribeca)]]>
Those sounds you hear in Kleber Mendonça Filho’s magnificently sculpted fiction feature debut, about life on one upscale street in the bustling Brazilian city of Recife, are the kind that ruins your sleep, disturbs the illusion of security and echoes across the chasm dividing rich and poor. Filho’s ambitious strategy is to encompass an entire city block’s worth of characters, incidents and encounters across a few days of time, while generating a steadily rising undercurrent of tension that’s certain to break. Like the vivid parade of characters in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio, an ensemble of lives unfolds: Stay-at-home mom Beatriz (Maeve Jinkings) battles a neighbor’s constantly howling dog with every weapon at her disposal, while her children learn English and Mandarin; João (Gustavo Jahn) starts what could become a passionate relationship but conflicts arise with younger brother Dinho’s (Yuri Holanda) dalliances with crime; Joao’s and Dinho’s grandfather Francisco (W.J. Solha), meanwhile, works out terms with a possibly shady “security” group led by Clodaldo (Irandhir Santos) to patrol the area. The totality of Filho’s film becomes symphonic in its structure and power. Brazil is now full of interesting young filmmakers working outside of Sao Paolo and Rio, and Mendonça Filho, whose output as a film critic and maker of shorts is already legion, stands as a leader of this new movement. (San Francisco International Film Festival)]]>
Carlos Reygadas’ POST TENEBRAS LUX is a landscape of possibility, vibrantly alert to the tensions of class, family and desire, pulsating with life. The film tells the story of Juan (Adolfo Castro) and Natalia (Nathalia Acevedo) and their two young children. A wealthy, modern family living in the secluded Mexican woodlands, they are surrounded by dreamlike possibilities and the blunt, violent realities of daily life. As a filmmaker Reygadas refuses to distinguish between dreams and reality, and so POST TENEBRAS LUX takes on issues of duty, class and morality with a feverish poetry from its thrilling opening sequence to its radical conclusion. (Sarasota)]]>
These days any dumbphone is smart enough to put even a chess grandmaster in his place. It was different though back in the early 1980s. Back then, nerds of all ages would get together, make bets on how much longer it would be until computers were superior to people, program in Fortran and Prolog on obscure hardware with acoustic couplers and tiny quaint screens, and the term “artificial intelligence” was on everybody’s lips. Andrew Bujalski catapults us back to that time in both aesthetic and thematic terms. Computer Chess is the story of how a chess programmers’ competition in a provincial hotel spins out of control when the somewhat inhibited chess geeks clash with the would-be sexually liberated members of a self-discovery group. This amusing, warm-hearted and lovingly detailed journey back in time was shot on a black-and-white Sony video camera from the era. Yet when the images at some point switch to colour as if by magic, sound and image are overlaid in psychedelic manner, one of the experts gets caught in a time warp and another enters into philosophical debates with his computer, all this marvelous frivolity turns deadly serious. Or vice versa. (Berlin)]]>
Jim White is an average American family man, mostly content to exist within his humdrum reality. At the tail end of a theme park vacation with his loving wife and two beautiful children, he is awakened by an unsettling phone call from his boss, who tells him that he has lost his job. Unwilling to disturb their sabbatical, Jim holds off on breaking the news to his family so they can enjoy their last day at the idyllic and beloved tourist destination. In desperate need of a distraction, he finds one amidst the long lines at the park—two attractive and fun-loving teenage girls. In his fractured state, Jim falls obsessively in love, making any excuse he can to follow them everywhere. Along the way, his paranoid psyche spirals even further downward, and the fine line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred. First-time writer/director Randy Moore takes a bold and creative step into uncharted territory, inviting viewers on a surreal, postmodern voyage into the seedy underbelly of family entertainment. (Sundance)]]>
When William Friedkin’s film Cruising was screened in competition at the Berlinale in 1980 it unleashed a wave of controversy – and not just at the festival. Gay activists accused the film, in which Al Pacino plays an undercover cop investigating a case in New York’s gay S&M and leather scene, of stirring up homophobic stereotypes. Moreover, forty minutes of allegedly overly explicit scenes were deleted in order to secure a less restricted rating for the film’s release. Oscar-nominated actor James Franco and Travis Mathews have made it their mission to restage this missing and by now legendary forty minutes.
The film constitutes the making of one scene shot in a New York leather and S&M bar before the onslaught of Aids and focuses on Val, who plays Al Pacino’s role. Heterosexual Hollywood actor Val has strong reservations about appearing in a gay film. Skirting the border between reality and fiction, Interior. Leather Bar. explores Hollywood’s homophobic mechanisms and examines prevalent clichés. (Berlin)
The five films nominated for the 2014 Heterodox Award are: Andrew Bujalski’s Computer Chess, Randy Moore’s Escape From Tomorrow, James Franco and Travis Mathews’ Interior. Leather Bar., Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds and Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux.
These films illuminate the formal possibilities of nonfiction filmmaking while raising provocative questions about on-going documentary orthodoxy and the perceived boundaries between fiction and nonfiction filmmaking. Previous winners of the award were Matt Porterfield’s Putty Hill (2011), Mike Mills’ Beginners (2012) and Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours (2013).
The 2014 Heterodox Award will be presented at the 7th Annual Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking on January 8, 2014, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, New York.
“The 2014 Cinema Eye Honors Heterodox nominees prove once again that the contested space between narrative and documentary is the ideal cinematic environment to delve deep into our most modern tensions,” said Esther Robinson, Chair of the Cinema Eye Honors. Bringing us to settings as diverse as rural Mexico, dystopian Disneyland, and a forgotten leather bar, these films break convention to move us thrillingly out of our doctrinaire cinema comfort zone.”
Ten finalists for the Heterodox Award were selected in voting by the Cinema Eye Honors Nominations Committee. The ten finalists were then viewed and five nominees selected by the writers and editors of Filmmaker Magazine. A jury will watch the five nominees and choose a winner that will be announced on January 8.
“This years Heterodox nominees are a formally audacious bunch as they allow their fictions to be shaped and remixed by historical, economic and technological currents,” said Filmmaker Magazine Editor-in-Chief Scott Macaulay. “From within their cinematic hybrid spaces, these films cast a compelling, critical eye on the changing world around us.”
The Five Nominees for the 2013 Cinema Eye Heterodox Award:
Directed by Andrew Bujalski
Masterfully evoking the nerdy world of artificial intelligence engineers at a weekend computer chess convention, Andrew Bujalski’s 1980-set feature feels like a low-fi emissary from a pre-networked age. Shot in black-and-white on vintage video cameras, Computer Chess’s near-anthropological recreation is enormously witty — a loopy commentary on social ritual mediated by technology.
Escape From Tomorrow
Directed by Randy Moore
The copyrighted images of the Walt Disney Corporation are deliciously appropriated by Randy Moore for his comic fantasia, Escape from Tomorrow. Shot secretly using consumer DSLRs and a stealth crew at real Disney theme parks, the film is both a hilarious psychosexual comedy and, with its legal provocation, a demonstration of how our childhood memories are the stuff of intellectual property disputes.
Interior. Leather Bar.
Directed by James Franco and Travis Mathews
Some 40 minutes of gay S&M footage was purportedly deleted from William Friedkin’s 1980 feature Cruising, and it is this lost material that inspires Travis Matthews and James Franco’s Interior. Leather Bar. What initially feels like a behind-the-scenes documentary about the recreation of these scenes turns into something very different as the film plumbs issues of sexual anxiety, the cinematic history of gay representation and the power of celebrity.
Directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho
The social strata of a Brazilian seaside high-rise are depicted with a hallucinatory tension in Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds. When a wealthy apartment complex — the director’s own — is hit by a series of crimes, a private security firm creates its own unease in a film that cooly captures a society amidst economic and cultural transformation.
Post Tenebras Lux
Directed by Carlos Reygadas
Boundaries between documentary and fiction, myth and autobiography are elided in Post Tenebras Lux, a seductively mysterious feature from Carlos Reygadas. A rich family moving to a mountainside home in a poor Mexican village face a series of psychic disruptions in this visually ravishing, deeply experimental work.]]>
The Hell Yeah Prize is a periodic award, given to filmmakers who have created works of incredible craft and artistry that also have significant, real-world impact. The inaugural Hell Yeah Prize was presented in 2012 to Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky for their Paradise Lost trilogy, which played a critical role in securing the release from prison of the wrongly prosecuted and convicted West Memphis Three.
The award will be presented on January 8, 2014 at the 7th Annual Cinema Eye Honors ceremony to be held, for the fourth year in a row, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York.
The first Gasland film was a Cinema Eye Honor winner in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation, an award shared by Juan Cardarelli, Eric M. Levy and Alex Tyson. Gasland Part II premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and aired this summer on HBO.
“We can’t think of a film or filmmaker who is better suited to receive this award,” said AJ Schnack, Founding Director of the Cinema Eye Honors. “Josh has created exceptional, artistically daring films that have the power to get attention and change minds. His work is largely responsible for spurring a national debate on the issue of hydraulic fracking.”
“Cinema Eye’s mission is to focus on outstanding artistry and craft in the field of documentary,” Honors Chair Esther Robinson said. “With the Hell Yeah Prize, we recognize those films and filmmakers that excel at the highest levels to create great art and, as a result, also affect profound and measurable change. Josh has excelled at both and we are very excited to award him our second ever Hell Yeah Prize.”
“”HELL YEAH! It’s a great honor to be recognized for both filmmaking and activism by the doc-hell-raisers at Cinema Eye,” filmmaker Josh Fox said. “Documentary reporting and grassroots action go hand in hand, when people have entrusted you as a filmmaker with their lives, their stories, it is a great responsibility to not only tell the tale but do everything in your power to organize a solution. Of course, this award really goes to the hundreds of thousands of activists, organizers and citizens fighting the fracking industry for clean air, water, public health and their right to democracy. When the fracking industry first came to my doorstep in 2008, I never felt more alone and isolated. Thanks to the international movement against fracking that has responded to this crisis with poise, intelligence, grace, non-violence and relentless determination, no one is alone in the fight for protecting their communities. Huge thanks to Cinema Eye, for their acknowledgement of this work.”
About Josh Fox, Filmmaker
Josh Fox is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of the International WOW Company. Josh has written/directed/produced three feature films, several short films and over twenty-five full- length works for the stage which have premiered in New York, Asia and Europe. GASLAND, which Josh wrote, directed and shot, premiered at the Sundance film festival 2010, where it was awarded the 2010 Special Jury Prize for Documentary. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary, nominated for four Emmys including best documentary, best writing and best cinematography, and awarded the EMMY for best directing. GASLAND was nominated for best Documentary Screenplay by the WGA, and also awarded the Environmental Media Association Award for best documentary. As a result of Josh’s activism and campaigning on the issue of gas drilling Josh was awarded the 2010 Lennon Ono Grant for Peace by Yoko Ono.
About Gasland and Gasland, Part II
Ever since theater director-turned-filmmaker Josh Fox was approached five years ago with an unexpected offer of $100,000 for the natural gas drilling rights to his property in the Delaware River Basin, on the border of New York and Pennsylvania, he has been on a mission to investigate and expose the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing. His first film, “Gasland,” debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize, and made its HBO debut later that year. The film was subsequently shown in more than 30 countries to an estimated 50 million viewers. In addition to an Oscar® nomination for Best Documentary Feature, “Gasland” won an Emmy® for Best Nonfiction Directing and was nominated for three other Emmys®. As a result of his activism, Fox was awarded the 2010 Lennon Ono Grant for Peace by Yoko Ono.
GASLAND PART II begins with the 2012 State of the Union Address, in which President Obama declares his support for the safe development of natural gas production, something Fox and the anti-fracking community believe is impossible. Beneath the continental U.S., some contend, lies a vast underground ocean of natural gas waiting to be harvested, with the potential to supply energy to millions of Americans.
However, as Fox explained in “Gasland,” the drilling process, called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is exempted by the Bush-Cheney Energy Policy Act of 2005 from the United States’ most basic environmental regulations, including the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act, and poses many environmental threats to water and air.
In “Gasland,” Fox discovered tap water so contaminated it could be set on fire right out of the tap, chronically ill residents with similar symptoms in drilling areas across the country, and huge pools of toxic waste that kill livestock and vegetation. In GASLAND PART ll, he revisits families whose lives have been upended from living near fracking wells and introduces new characters. Fox interviews politicians who have been trying to stop fracking and help the people affected by it, as well as experts who support Fox’s concerns about the dangers of fracking and the urgent need for a shift to truly clean renewable energy.
Fox returns to Dimock, Pa., Pavilion, Wyo., and Dish, Tex. to see how the residents are faring in their fight to secure clean water from local governments and the E.P.A., and ventures to Australia to see what is happening outside the U.S. as fracking becomes a global practice. In order to understand the potential dangers of fracking, Fox interviews Tony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering, Cornell University, a former researcher for the gas industry. Ingraffea, who was named one of Time magazine’s People Who Matter in 2011, explains why in his opinion, fracking can never be done safely. He illustrates how cement in wells can be vulnerable to cracking and that once it has cracked, methane gas can migrate into any underground source of drinking water.
In GASLAND PART ll, Fox also argues that new choices must be made about where the nation gets its energy. He talks to Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, who argues that the U.S. could stop drilling for coal, oil and natural gas altogether and bundle together the renewable resources of wind, high-concentrated solar power, geothermal power, hydroelectric power and tidal power to handle the country’s current energy needs. But Fox’s biggest concern in GASLAND PART ll is perhaps his belief that “the enormously powerful oil and gas industry has not only contaminated our water, air and land, but also our democracy.”
Towards the film’s conclusion, Fox is arrested trying to film a congressional hearing regarding the E.P.A. results in Pavilion. But as the fight to protect the earth from extreme energy development seems even more challenging, Fox remains determined and undeterred.
Gasland was written, directed and produced by Josh Fox; produced by Trish Adlesic; produced by Molly Gandour; editor, Matthew Sanchez. Gasland Part II is directed and produced by Josh Fox; produced by Trish Adlesic; produced by Deborah Wallace; co-producer, Matthew Sanchez; cinematography, Josh Fox and Matthew Sanchez; editor, Matthew Sanchez. For HBO Documentary Films: senior producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.]]>