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‘American Factory’ Named Top Documentary at Cinema Eye Honors

The Obama-produced documentary also wins for directing; awards for broadcast documentaries go to ”Leaving Neverland“ and ”Tricky Dick“


“American Factory” has been named the best documentary of 2019 at the 13th annual Cinema Eye Honors ceremony, which were presented on Monday evening in New York City.

The film, executive produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground Productions, and distributed by Netflix, is an examination of an Ohio glass factory that was taken over by a Chinese company in an uneasy cultural alliance. It prevailed in a category in which all six nominees — “American Factory,” “Apollo 11,” “For Sama,” “Honeyland,” “Midnight Family” and “One Child Nation” — are also on the Oscars shortlist for documentary features.

The “American Factory” directors, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, also won the award for Outstanding Direction. The Outstanding Production category resulted in a tie between two films set in Syria, “The Cave” and “For Sama.”

“Honeyland” won for cinematography, “The Great Hack” for graphic design or animation and “Apollo 11” for editing and score.

“Present.Perfect” won the Spotlight Award, which goes to a film that has not received significant distribution. “The Disappearance of My Mother” won the award as the best debut feature, while “Ghosts of Sugar Land” won the award for best short.

The awards for broadcast film and series went to “Leaving Neverland” and “Tricky Dick,” respectively.

The Heterodox Award, which goes to a fiction film that uses documentary technique, was won by Joanna Hogg’s “The Souvenir.”

The Cinema Eye Honors were founded in 2007 to celebrate all aspects of nonfiction filmmaking. Winners are chosen by 200-300 filmmakers, distributors, programmers, sales agents, publicists, journalists and past Cinema Eye participants.

An additional award, the Audience Choice Prize, was selected by more than 12,000 votes cast by audience members worldwide. It went to “The Biggest Little Farm.”

In the first 12 years of the Cinema Eye Honors, the winner went on to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature three times, and to be nominated for that award 10 times.

The show took place at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. The show was hosted by “Strong Island” director Yance Ford.

The winners:

Outstanding Nonfiction Feature: “American Factory”
Directed and Produced by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
Produced by Jeff Reichert and Julie Parker Benello
Outstanding Direction: “American Factory,” Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
Outstanding Editing: “Apollo 11,” Todd Douglas Miller
Outstanding Production: (TIE) “The Cave,” Kirstine Barfod and Sigrid Dyekjær; and “For Sama,” Waad Al-Kateab
Outstanding Cinematography: “Honeyland,” Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma
Outstanding Original Score: “Apollo 11,” Matt Morton
Outstanding Graphic Design or Animation: “The Great Hack,” Ash Thorp, Matthew Hornick and Patrick Cederberg
Outstanding Debut: “The Disappearance of My Mother,” directed by Beniamino Barrese
Outstanding Nonfiction Short: “Ghosts of Sugar Land,” directed by Bassam Tariq
Audience Choice Prize: “The Biggest Little Farm,” Directed by John Chester
Spotlight: “Present.Perfect,” directed by Shengze Zhu
Outstanding Broadcast Film: “Leaving Neverland,” directed by Dan Reed | HBO
Outstanding Broadcast Series: “Tricky Dick,” directed by Mary Robertson | CNN
Outstanding Broadcast Editing: “Apollo: Mission to the Moon,” David Tillman | National Geographic
Outstanding Broadcast Cinematography: “Homecoming,” Mark Ritchie, Julian Klincewicz, Dikayl Rimmasch and Irie Calkins | Netflix
Heterodox Award: “The Souvenir,” Directed by Joanna Hogg
Legacy Award:
Directed and Produced by Godfrey Reggio
Cinematography Ron Fricke
Editing Ron Fricke and Alton Walpole
Original Score Philip Glass

The Unforgettables (Non-Competitive Honor):
“Advocate,” Lea Tsemel
“The Amazing Johnathan Documentary,” The Amazing Johnathan
“Ask Dr. Ruth,” Dr. Ruth Westheimer
“The Cave,” Dr. Amani Ballour
“The Disappearance of My Mother,” Benedetta Barzini
“For Sama,” Waad and Hamza al-Kataeb
“Hail Satan?” Lucien Greaves
“Honeyland,” Hatidze Muratova
“Knock Down the House,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
“Maiden,” Tracy Edwards
“Midnight Family,” Juan Ochoa
“Midnight Traveler,” Fatima Hussaini and Hassan Fazili
“Seahorse,” Freddy
“What You Gonna Do When the World’s On Fire?” Judy Hill
“XY Chelsea,” Chelsea Manning

2020 Shorts List Films:
“All on a Mardi Gras Day,” Directed by Michal Pietrzyk
“In the Absence,” Directed by Seung Jun-Yi
“Life Overtakes Me,” Directed by John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson
“St. Louis Superman,” Directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan