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The 2015 Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking recognize and honor exemplary craft and innovation in nonfiction film. Cinema Eye’s mission is to advocate for, recognize and promote the highest commitment to rigor and artistry in the nonfiction field. Tue, 16 Jun 2015 17:51:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Finalists for 2016 Nonfiction Film for Television Award Announced http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/finalists-for-2016-nonfiction-film-for-television-award-announced http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/finalists-for-2016-nonfiction-film-for-television-award-announced#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 17:51:49 +0000 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/?p=3646 The Cinema Eye Honors, which recognizes outstanding artistic achievements in nonfiction filmmaking, today announced 10 finalists for their annual Outstanding Nonfiction Filmmaking for Television Award.  The announcement marks the first awards announcement of Cinema Eye’s 9th Annual Honors season.


Among this year’s finalists are two previous Cinema Eye winners: Joe Berlinger and Alex Gibney.  Berlinger was, along with his late collaborator Bruce Sinofsky, a Cinema Eye honoree for their Paradise Lost series of films.  He’s shortlisted this year for his CNN Films feature documentary Whitey: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger.  Gibney is the first director to make the Television Shortlist with two different features, both for HBO Documentary Films – Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief and Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown. Gibney won the first Cinema Eye award for Direction in 2008 for his Oscar winning film Taxi to the Dark Side.


HBO Documentary Films led all networks with 5 of the 10 finalists.  CNN Films and PBS’ FRONTLINE had two films apiece.  Epix rounded out the list with its Alex Winter-directed documentary Deep Web.


This is the third year for Cinema Eye’s award for Outstanding Nonfiction Filmmaking for Television.  Previous winners were Lucy Walker’s The Crash Reel (HBO) and Nanette Burstein’s The Price of Gold (ESPN).


Nominees for the award will be announced in November at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen when all of Cinema Eye’s nominations for the year’s best nonfiction are unveiled and the winner will be named at the 9th Annual Awards Ceremony during Cinema Eye Honors Week in New York City in January 2016.


A full list of this year’s Television Finalists follows:


Deep Web / EPIX

Directed by Alex Winter

Documented / CNN Films

Directed by Jose Antonio Vargas


Firestone and the Warlord / FRONTLINE / PBS

Directed by Marcela Gaviria


Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief / HBO Documentary Films

Directed by Alex Gibney


Mr. Dynamite: The Rise of James Brown / HBO Documentary Films

Directed by Alex Gibney


Outbreak / FRONTLINE / PBS

Directed by Daniel Edge


Private Violence / HBO Documentary Films

Directed by Cynthia Hill


Regarding Susan Sontag / HBO Documentary Films

Directed by Nancy Kates


Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop / HBO Documentary Films

Directed by Erin Lee Carr


Whitey: The United States of America v. James J. Bulger / CNN Films

Directed by Joe Berlinger


Films eligible for this award must have aired on their network between June 1, 2014 and May 31, 2015 and must have received financial support during production and/or post-production.  Films acquired upon completion are not eligible for this award.  Named nominees in this category will be the Directors, Producers and Key Network Personnel who worked on the film.


On Monday, June 1, Cinema Eye opened submissions for feature and short film categories at their 9th Annual Honors.  Currently, more than 160 feature films and 50 shorts are eligible for the 2016 edition of Cinema Eye.  Submissions for short films will close on July 31 and submissions for features will close on August 31.  For more information about those films, go to register.cinemaeyehonors.com.
Films were selected for this year’s Television Shortlist by a nominating committee comprised of nonfiction curators and programmers.  This year’s committee was chaired by Charlotte Cook (former Head of Programming at Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival).  Committee members included Joanne Feinberg (former Director of Programming Ashland Film Festival), Tom Hall (Executive Director, Montclair Film Festival), Sarah Harris (Senior Programmer, Dallas Film Festival), Doug Jones (Executive Director, Images Cinema), Lane Kneedler (Associate Director of Programming, AFI FEST), Jim Kolmar (Film Programmer, SXSW), Andrew Rodgers (Executive Director, RiverRun Film Festival) and Sadie Tillery (Director of Programming, Full Frame Film Festival).

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Bob Alexander, Key Early Supporter of Cinema Eye, 1942-2015 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/bob-alexander-key-early-supporter-of-cinema-eye-1942-2015 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/bob-alexander-key-early-supporter-of-cinema-eye-1942-2015#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 21:14:30 +0000 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/?p=3637 The Cinema Eye family recognizes the recent passing of Bob Alexander, a co-founder of the online independent film distributor IndiePix and a key, early supporter and sponsor of the Cinema Eye Honors.

“Bob understood the importance of recognizing craft in nonfiction film,” said AJ Schnack, Cinema Eye Founding Director. “He took an impassioned idea and bankrolled it, making it possible for us to host the first awards just four months after the initial spark. Without his enthusiasm, it’s unlikely Cinema Eye would exist in the form that it does today.”

Indiepix, led by Alexander, presented the first two Honors in 2008 and 2009. Since 2010, Cinema Eye has been an independent organization supported by a number of sponsors and community members.

“Bob was an early believer and pioneer of the viability of docs on VOD. He was a risk-taker and Cinema Eye couldn’t have launched without his support,” said Thom Powers, the documentary programmer of the Toronto International Film Festival and co-founder of Cinema Eye.

Writing about the inaugural event in 2008, Alexander said it was his goal to “shine a bright light on the achievements of these filmmakers…and to signal to audiences everywhere that the evolution of nonfiction story-telling continues today as rapidly as the social and technological context of their art.”

Our sincere condolences to Bob’s wife Margo, his family and his co-workers.

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2015 Cinema Eye Honors Announces Winners http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/cinema-eye-honors-2015-announces-winners http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/cinema-eye-honors-2015-announces-winners#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 21:58:26 +0000 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/?p=3613 January 7, 2015, Astoria, Queens, New York Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’ first person account of Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA spying, picked up four awards at the 8th Annual Cinema Eye Honors, including Outstanding Nonfiction Feature and Outstanding Direction, held Wednesday night at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York.  It’s the second film in Cinema Eye history to win four awards (Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir was the first) and the second to win both the Direction and Feature awards (Steve James’ The Interrupters did it in 2012).

Poitras also becomes the first person in Cinema Eye history to win the award for Outstanding Direction twice (she previously won for The Oath in 2011).  Citizenfour also won awards for Mathilde Bonnefoy’s Editing and for the film’s Production, which was shared by Poitras, Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutsky.  In total, Poitras won three awards, tying a record set previously by Lixin Fan in 2011 for Last Train Home.

There were two ties at this year’s Cinema Eye Honors, a first for the awards.  In the category of Graphic Design, Syd Garon of Jodorowsky’s Dune and Heather Brantman & Tim Fisher of Particle Fever shared the honor, while in Cinematography, laurels were shared by 20,000 Days on Earth’s Erik Wilson and Virunga’s Franklin Dow and Orlando von Einsiedel.  Previously, there had only been one other tie at Cinema Eye, in 2010 for Graphic Design.

Alan Hicks’ Keep On Keepin’ On won the Audience Choice Prize, which was determined by public voting at the Cinema Eye website.  More than 7,000 people cast their vote in the final 36 hours of voting for the Audience award. 

The Nonfiction Short Film award went to Lucy Walker’s The Lions Mouth Open.  Walker won the Cinema Eye Honor for Nonfiction Film for Television last year for her film The Crash Reel.  She becomes the first person in Cinema Eye history to win awards in back-to-back years in different categories.

This year’s award for Nonfiction Film for Television went to ESPN 30 for 30’s The Price of Gold, directed by Nanette Burstein.

Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green hosted this year’s event, with an audio assist from Serial podcast host Sarah Koenig, who served as announcer and Voice of God for this year’s proceedings.  Presenters included documentary legends Albert Maysles, DA Pennebaker, Steve James, Alan Berliner and the director and editor of this year’s Legacy Award winner Paris is Burning, Jennie Livingston and Jonathan Oppenheim.

A full list of this year’s winners follows:

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking


Directed by Laura Poitras

Produced by Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky


Outstanding Achievement in Direction

Laura Poitras



Outstanding Achievement in Editing

Mathilde Bonnefoy



Outstanding Achievement in Production

Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky



Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography (tie)

Erik Wilson

20,000 Days on Earth

Franklin Dow and Orlando von Einsiedel



Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Films Made for Television

The Price of Gold

Directed by Nanette Burstein

Produced by Libby Geist

For ESPN/30 for 30: John Dahl, Connor Schell, Bill Simmons


Audience Choice Prize

Keep On Keepin’ On

Directed by Alan Hicks


Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film

Finding Vivian Maier

Directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel


Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Score 

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis

20,000 Days on Earth


Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation (tie)

Syd Garon

Jodorowsky’s Dune

Heather Brantman & Tim Fisher

Particle Fever


Spotlight Award


Directed by Johanna Hamilton


Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking

The Lion’s Mouth Opens

Directed by Lucy Walker


Heterodox Award


Directed by Richard Linklater


Legacy Award

Paris is Burning

Directed by Jennie Livingston


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Cinema Eye Honors Announces 2015 Legacy Award http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/cinema-eye-honors-announces-2015-legacy-award http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/cinema-eye-honors-announces-2015-legacy-award#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 18:05:33 +0000 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/?p=3590 The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking today announced that the 2015 Legacy Award will be presented to the landmark 1990 documentary, Paris is Burning,  Jennie Livingston’s landmark portrait of gender, race and culture in the waning days of New York City’s Drag Balls in the 1980s.  The presentation of the Legacy Award will be the centerpiece of a major new addition to the events of Cinema Eye Week: the Honors Lunch.

Livingston, who was a young photographer in New York when she started filming Paris is Burning, will accept the award on behalf of the film at the inaugural Honors Lunch, to be held on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 in Manhattan.  Netflix is the Premier Sponsor of the Honors Lunch and the Jonathan Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri is the Institutional Sponsor for the event.

This is the sixth year that Cinema Eye will present a Legacy Award, intended to honor classic films that inspire a new generation of filmmakers and embody the Cinema Eye mission: excellence in creative and artistic achievements in nonfiction films.  The First Annual Cinema Eye Honors Lunch will celebrate Paris Is Burning as well as the 24 other films recently named to the annual list of The Influentials, classic films such as previous Legacy Award winners Grey Gardens, Harlan County USA, Titicut Follies and The War Room, that were cited by this year’s class of documentary filmmakers as the films that inspired them.  The Lunch will also recognize this year’s Unforgettables, notable and significant documentary subjects from the past year’s films.

Paris is Burning opened the doors onto the exuberant world of vogue culture in NYC on the eve of the AIDS epidemic.  The film’s intimate, empathic focus on the struggles and joys of trans and gay culture is just as transformative today as it was nearly twenty-five years ago when it premiered,” declared Cinema Eye Board Chair Andrea Meditch in announcing Paris is Burning as this year’s Legacy Award recipient.

“Just making the Influentials list was swoon-worthy,” said Paris is Burning director Jennie Livingston. “Now Paris is Burning is a Legacy Film, too? Does the award come with smelling salts? Or better, yet a trip on the Orient Express along with Errol Morris, Agnes Varda, Ross McElwee and the rest? I’m ready! And immensely excited. And wildly appreciative.”

Continuing its partnership with Cinema Eye, the Hot Docs Film Festival will host a Cinema Eye Legacy Award screening of Paris is Burning in Toronto during the 2015 edition of the festival, featuring a conversation with Jennie Livingston.  “Hot Docs is thrilled to continue our partnership with Cinema Eye and our sponsorship of the Legacy Award” said Charlotte Cook, the Director of Programming for Hot Docs and Chair of the Cinema Eye Nominations Committee.  “We are very excited to be able to celebrate the incredible filmmaking achievement of Paris is Burning and to host Jennie at the festival for what will be a very special screening at the 2015 festival.”

The inaugural Honors Lunch is the latest edition to Cinema Eye Week, a multi-day, multi-city event that recognizes and celebrates excellence in nonfiction filmmaking.  The week culminates in the 8th Annual Honors Awards Ceremony, which will be held on Wednesday, January 7 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York where 12 awards will be presented recognizing achievement in nonfiction film over the past year.  Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Sam Green, who has revolutionized the concept of documentary through his live performances of nonfiction theatre, will serve as the host for the 2015 Honors Awards Ceremony. Tickets are now on sale at cinemaeyehonors.com.

HBO Documentary Films is the Premier Sponsor for the 2015 Cinema Eye Honors.  Major Sponsors are Netflix and Radius/TWC.  Cinema Eye’s Festival Partners are the Camden International Film Festival, CPH:DOX, Hot Docs and True/False.  Venue Partner is the Museum of the Moving Image.  Institutional Sponsors include the Jonathan Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri, Chicken and Egg and the LEF Foundation.  Industry Sponsors include Filmmaker Magazine and Spacestation Media.

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Legacy Award http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/distinctive-honors/legacy-award-2015 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/distinctive-honors/legacy-award-2015#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 18:04:41 +0000 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/?p=3585

Paris is Burning credits:
Directed by: Jennie Livingston
Produced by: Jennie Livingston
Edited by: Jonathan Oppenheim
Cinematography by: Paul Gibson

Paris is Burning depicts a New York fashion subculture. Shot in the late 1980s, the film examines how a community of Black and Latino gay and transgender New Yorkers build sustenance, creativity, and family. Exploring ballroom culture – and defining and re-defining words like “house,” “mother,” “shade” “voguing” and “fierce” – Paris is Burning draws a series of incisive character portraits. The movie writes a complex essay on class, race, identity, and the transformative powers of dance and performance.

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Cinema Eye Honors Announces 2015 Heterodox Nominees http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/cinema-eye-honors-announces-2015-heterodox-award-nominees-honoring-fiction-films-that-blur-the-line http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/press/cinema-eye-honors-announces-2015-heterodox-award-nominees-honoring-fiction-films-that-blur-the-line#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 16:55:39 +0000 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/?p=3569 The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking today announced the five nominees for its annual Cinema Eye Heterodox Award, sponsored by Filmmaker Magazine, a publication of IFP. The Cinema Eye Heterodox Award honors a narrative fiction film that imaginatively incorporates nonfiction strategies, content and/or modes of production.

The five films nominated this year for the Cinema Eye Heterodox Award are:

  • Boyhood directed by Richard Linklater
  • Heaven Knows What directed by Josh and Benny Safdie
  • A Spell to Ward off the Darkness directed by Ben Rivers and Ben Russell
  • Stop the Pounding Heart directed by Roberto Minervini
  • Under the Skin directed by Jonathan Glazer

These films demonstrate the porous boundaries between life’s documentation and creative storytelling, highlighting the ways in which today’s fiction filmmakers are inspired, challenged and provoked by the realities in which their dramatic constructs live. This marks the fifth year for the Heterodox Award at Cinema Eye. Previous winners of the award were Matt Porterfield’s Putty Hill (2011), Mike Mills’ Beginners (2012), Jem Cohen’s Museum Hours (2013) and Carlos Reygados’s Post Tenebras Lux (2014).

“These nominees prove once again that the blurred lines between fiction/non-fiction, actor/non-actor and verite/script continue to thrill and provoke,”  said Esther Robinson, Chair of the Cinema Eye Honors.  “Year five of the Heterodox award gives us farmers, loners, aliens, addicts, and adolescents.  The films ask thrillingly big questions about childhood, time, utopia, modernity, sexuality and what happens when you drop a come-hither Scarlett Johansson into the Scottish countryside with a hidden camera.”

“In this fifth year of the Heterodox Award,” said Filmmaker Magazine Editor-in-Chief Scott Macaulay, “these nominated filmmakers, using technology as varied as spy cams to old-fashioned 35mm, have created seamless blends of the real and ‘the real.’ Their films, crackling with the rhythms of life, offer inspirations out of the creative cul de sacs found in so much mainstream storytelling.”

Nine finalists for the Heterodox Award were selected in voting by the Cinema Eye Honors Nominations Committee, made up of more than 25 international programmers who specialize in nonfiction film. The nine finalists were then viewed and five nominees selected by the writers and editors of Filmmaker Magazine. A jury of filmmakers and film professionals will watch the five nominees and select a winner.  The award will be presented in January during Cinema Eye Week in New York City.

In addition to the Heterodox Award nominees, Cinema Eye announced that voting for the organization’s Audience Choice Prize is now open.  The ten contenders for the award were announced last month at CPH:DOX in Copenhagen and the annual list includes many of the most discussed, acclaimed and beloved films of the year.  The nominees for the Audience Choice Prize are:

  • 20,000 Days on Earth directed by Iain Forsythe and Jane Pollard
  • The Case Against 8 directed by Ben Cotner and Ryan White
  • Citizenfour directed by Laura Poitras
  • Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me directed by Chiemi Karasawa
  • Finding Vivian Maier directed by John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
  • Jodorowsky’s Dune directed by Frank Pavich
  • Keep On Keepin’ On directed by Alan Hicks
  • Life Itself directed by Steve James
  • Mistaken for Strangers directed by Tom Berninger
  • Particle Fever directed by Mark Levinson

Voting for the Audience Choice Prize is open to the public via the Cinema Eye website here. Last year, more than 44,000 people voted for the award, which was won by Dave Grohl’s Sound City. Previous winners of the award are The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2008), Up the Yangtze (2009), The September Issue (2010),  Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (2011), Buck (2012) and Bully (2013).

Tickets for the 8th Annual Honors Awards Ceremony are now on sale. The event will be held Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York.  Tickets can be purchased here.  More information about this year’s Cinema Eye Honors Week, including event details and a list of this year’s sponsors will be announced in the coming days.

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Boyhood http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/eligible-films/boyhood http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/eligible-films/boyhood#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 03:23:14 +0000 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/?p=3566

Filming from 2002 to 2013, “Boyhood” is a narrative feature that covers twelve years in the life of a family. We follow a young boy, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), as he matures from first through twelfth grade, along with his older sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater), and his divorced parents, Olivia (Patricia Arquette) and Mason, Sr. (Ethan Hawke). As the years go by we find them facing the realities of not only growing up but also the ongoing challenges of parenting in an ever-evolving landscape. (SXSW)

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Stop The Pounding Heart http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/eligible-films/stop-the-pounding-heart http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/eligible-films/stop-the-pounding-heart#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 03:21:56 +0000 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/?p=3564

Italian director Roberto Minervini ventures deep into Texas’ rural Bible belt, achieving an intimacy with his subjects so deep that it seems spiritual. Focused on teenage Sara Carlson and her rising discomfort as she begins to feel the full confinement of her fundamentalist upbringing on a goat farm, the film quietly observes her daily life with its chores, sermons and the rare moments of freedom that entice her to see beyond the fences. Minervini captures the natural rhythm and soul of life in Waller, Texas, in a style best described by Werner Herzog as “poetic documentary,” meaning the characters and circumstances are real, but certain scenes are nudged or set up to find a deeper truth. Sara is intrigued by the cross-town world of Colby, a skinny boy who is learning how to ride bulls and participates in local rodeos. Entirely non-narrative, lyrical scenes awash in Terrence Malick-like golden light contrast with the shock of gun practice, a keg party and a live birth. A very pregnant woman firing off pistol rounds at a target is contraposed with a quiet scene of Sara at a small pond contemplating a pensive dusk. The remarkable communion Minervini has achieved with his characters provides a portrait of a little-known piece of America that is deeply personal and alive. (San Fransisco)

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A Spell to Ward off the Darkness http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/eligible-films/a-spell-to-ward-off-the-darkness http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/eligible-films/a-spell-to-ward-off-the-darkness#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 03:19:43 +0000 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/?p=3561

A nameless man – in the guise of the musician Robert A.A. Lowe – travels across time and space from a neo-hippie collective in Estonia through the loneliness of the Finnish wilderness to a brutal black metal ritual in a Norwegian basement. A proto-mythological journey of enlightenment in the most basic sense of the word, divided into three chapters, and turned into a giddily ambitious film shrouded in a dense haze of occult mysticism. Ben Rivers and Ben Russell are two of contemporary cinema’s most visionary innovators, and they share a rock-solid and almost alchemical belief that film can create worlds out of nothing – at least in the consciousness of the spectator. With ‘A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness’, they have joined their creative forces, and if the title seems familiar there it is for a reason. (CPH:DOX)

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Under the Skin http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/eligible-films/under-the-skin http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/archives/eligible-films/under-the-skin#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 03:18:11 +0000 http://www.cinemaeyehonors.com/?p=3559

From visionary director Jonathan Glazer (SEXY BEAST, BIRTH) comes a stunning career transformation, a masterpiece of existential science fiction that journeys to the heart of what it means to be human, extraterrestrial – or something in between. A voluptuous woman of unknown origin (Scarlett Johansson) combs the highways in search of isolated or forsaken men, luring a succession of lost souls into an otherworldly lair. They are seduced, stripped of their humanity, and never heard from again. Based on the novel by Michael Faber, this film examines human experience from the perspective of an unforgettable heroine who grows too comfortable in her borrowed skin, until she is abducted into humanity with devastating results. (Toronto)

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