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‘Flee’ Wins Top Prize at Cinema Eye Honors for Documentaries

The audience award goes to ”The Rescue,“ while broadcast winners include ”In the Same Breath,“ ”City So Real“ and ”Pretend It’s a City“


Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s animated documentary “Flee” has been named the best nonfiction film of 2021 at the 15th annual Cinema Eye Honors, which were presented on Tuesday night in New York City. “The Rescue,” about the efforts to retrieve a Thai youth soccer team from a flooded cave, won the Audience Choice Prize.

The Neon release “Flee,” which uses animation to give anonymity to a young gay man who escaped Afghanistan as a teenager and made his way to Denmark, also won the award for graphic design and animation. It is nominated for Oscars in the documentary, animated-feature and international-feature categories.

Robert Greene won the directing award for “Procession,” while Matthew Heineman, Jenna Millman and Leslie Norville took the producing prize for “The First Wave.”

Jessica Kingdon’s “Ascension” won the most Cinema Eye awards, three, taking the prizes for debut feature, cinematography and score.

Other winners included “Summer of Soul” for editing and “The Velvet Underground” for sound design.

“El Planeta” won the Heterodox Award, which goes to a film that blends fiction and nonfiction techniques, while “North by Current” won the Spotlight Award for a film that deserves wider exposure. The Oscar-nominated “Three Songs for Benazir” won the award for the best nonfiction short.

In the broadcast categories, winners included “In the Same Breath,” “City So Real,” “Pretend It’s a City,” “American Utopia” and “How to With John Wilson.”

In the previous 13 years of the Cinema Eye Honors, its winner has gone on to take home the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature only three times, the last of those coming in 2015 with “Citizenfour.” The CEH ceremony was full of pointed comments about the Academy’s recent decision to hand out eight awards, including Best Film Editing and Best Documentary Short, during the hour before the Oscars go on the air, and then edit those into the broadcast.

The IDA Documentary Awards, the other major awards show devoted to nonfiction filmmaking, are taking place on Friday.

The winners are below:


Outstanding Nonfiction Feature: “Flee,” directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, produced by Monica Hellström and Signe Byrge Sorensen
Outstanding Direction: “Procession,” Robert Greene
Outstanding Editing: “Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” Joshua Pearson
Outstanding Production: “The First Wave,” Matthew Heineman, Jenna Millman and Leslie Norville
Outstanding Cinematography: “Ascension,” Jessica Kingdon and Nathan Truesdell
Outstanding Original Score: “Ascension,” Dan Deacon
Outstanding Sound Design: “The Velvet Underground,” Leslie Shatz and Jahn Sood
Outstanding Graphic Design/Animation: “Flee,” Kenneth Ladekjær
Outstanding Debut: “Ascension,” directed by Jessica Kingdon
Outstanding Nonfiction Short: “Three Songs for Benazir,” directed by Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei
Audience Choice Prize: “The Rescue,” directed by E. Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin
Spotlight: “North by Current,” directed by Angelo Madsen Minax
Heterodox: “El Planeta,” directed by Amalia Ulman


Broadcast Film: “In the Same Breath,” directed by Nanfu Wang
Nonfiction Series: “City So Real,” directed by Steve James
Anthology Series
: “Pretend It’s a City,” Martin Scorsese, Fran Liebowitz, David Tedeschi, Ted Griffin, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Joshua Porter and Margaret Bodde, Executive Producers
Broadcast Cinematography: “David Byrne’s American Utopia,” Ellen Kuras
Broadcast Editing: “How to with John Wilson,” Adam Locke-Norton

Legacy Award: “The Watermelon Woman”
Written and directed by Cheryl Dunye
Produced by Alexandra Juhasz and Barry Swimar
Edited by Annie Taylor
Cinematography by Michelle Crenshaw
Original score by Paul Shapiro

The Unforgettables (Non-Competitive Honor):
Amin, “Flee”
Denilson Garibo, “Homeroom”
Selma Blair, “Introducing, Selma Blair”
Jacinta Hunt, “Jacinta”
Lily Hevesh, “Lily Topples the World”
Kenny G, “Listening to Kenny G”
Mr. Bachmann, “Mr. Bachmann and His Class”
Pauli Murray, “My Name is Pauli Murray”
Ady Barkan, “Not Going Quietly”
Joe Eldred, Mike Foreman, Ed Gavagan, Dan Laurine, Michael Sandridge and Tom Viviano, “Procession”
Rick Stanton, “The Rescue”
Rita Moreno, “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It”
Anthony Bourdain, “Roadrunner: A Film about Anthony Bourdain”
Ron Mael and Russell Mael, “The Sparks Brothers”
Meera Nevi, “Writing With Fire”

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