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‘Hale County This Morning, This Evening’ Wins Top Award at the Cinema Eye Honors

“Minding the Gap,” “Free Solo” and “Shirkers” also win multiple awards at the ceremony that celebrates all facets of nonfiction filmmaking


RaMell Ross’ “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” has been named the best nonfiction film of 2018 at the 12th annual Cinema Eye Honors, which were presented on Thursday evening in New York City.

The film, an examination of a small town in the deep South that also delves into how African Americans are depicted in the media, won in the Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking category over a slate of nominees that also included the Oscar-shortlisted documentaries “Minding the Gap,” “Of Fathers and Sons,” “Three Identical Strangers” and “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” as well as “Bisbee ’17,” which did not make the Oscar short list.

The Audience Award, the only Cinema Eye category voted on by the public, went to “Free Solo.”

The Spotlight Award, designed to single out a film that has not yet received the attention it deserves, went to Simon Lereng Wilmont’s “The Distant Barking of Dogs,” set in a small Ukraine village near the front line in that country’s ongoing war. The Heterodox Award, which salutes a film that mixes fiction and nonfiction techniques, went to Bart Layton’s “American Animals.”

Bing Liu won the directing award for “Minding the Gap,” which also won the Outstanding Debut Feature award and the prize for editing.

“Free Solo” won the awards for production and cinematography and “Shirkers” won for music and for graphic design or animation.

Awards for broadcast film and series went to “Baltimore Rising” and “America to Me,” respectively.

Charlie Tyrell’s “My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes,” one of the finalists in TheWrap’s 2018 ShortList Film Festival and the only one of the nominees to also make the Oscar short-doc short list, won the award as the year’s best short film.

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

In the first 11 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 nine times.

In December, the International Documentary Association’s IDA Documentary Awards gave its top prize to “Minding the Gap.”

Documentary filmmaker Steve James (“Hoop Dreams,” “The Interrupters”) hosted the the Cinema Eye Honors ceremony, which took place at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.

The 2019 Cinema Eye Honors winners:

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking: “Hale County This Morning, This Evening,” directed by RaMell Ross, produced by Joslyn Barnes, Su Kim and RaMell Ross
Outstanding Achievement in Direction: Bing Liu, “Minding the Gap
Outstanding Achievement in Production: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Jimmy Chin, Evan Hayes and Shannon Dill, “Free Solo”
Outstanding Achievement in Editing: Joshua Altman and Bing Liu, “Minding the Gap”
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Jimmy Chin, Clair Popkin and Mikey Schaffer, “Free Solo”
Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Score: Ishai Adar, “Shirkers”
Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation: Lucas Cellar and Sandi Tan, “Shirkers”
Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film: “Minding the Gap,” directed by Bing Liu
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Film for Broadcast: “Baltimore Rising,” Sonja Sohn
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Series for Broadcast: “America to Me,” Steve James
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking: “My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes,” directed by Charlie Tyrell
Spotlight Award: “The Distant Barking of Dogs,” directed by Simon Lereng Wilmont
Audience Choice Prize: “Free Solo,” directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin
Heterodox Award: “American Animals,” directed by Bart Layton
Legacy Award: “Eyes on the Prize”