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‘The Interrupters’ Takes Top Prizes at Cinema Eye Honors

Snubbed by Oscar voters, Steve James accepts top documentary awards from renegade Academy governor Michael Moore

Steve James' "The Interrupters," which prompted a huge outcry when it was left off the Oscar shortlist for documentary features, won the top two awards on Wednesday night at the Cinema Eye Honors, a New York-based awards show for nonfiction filmmaking.

The InterruptersThe film was honored as the year's best nonfiction film, and James won the award as the year's best director. It was the first time in the five-year history of the Cinema Eye Honors that one film had won both awards.

"Tonight, I don't care about the Oscars!" said James when he accepted the award from Michael Moore – who also happens to be the Academy Documentary Branch governor who pushed through new rules designed to prevent snubs like the ones suffered by James for both "The Interrupters" and his 1994 classic "Hoop Dreams."

Also read: Michael Moore: Why the New Oscar Doc Process Shouldn't Scare Anyone (But HBO)

On a night when the awards did an exemplary job of summing up the range, depth and variety of 2011's nonfiction filmmaking, several prizess went to films that did make the Oscar shortlist. The Audience Choice Prize went to Cindy Meehl's "Buck," the award for production to Wim Wenders' "Pina," and the honor for cinematography to Danfung Dennis' "Hell and Back Again."

The "Paradise Lost" trilogy, whose final installment is on the shortlist, was given the newly-created Hell Yeah Prize.

Other nonfiction awards went to "Senna" (for editing), "The Tiniest Place" (Spotlight Award) and "The Arbor" (for a debut feature). Errol Morris' "Tabloid" won two awards, one for its music and one for its graphic design.

Last year, the Cinema Eye Honors also instituted the Heterodox Award, which goes to a narrative film "that imaginatively incorporates nonfiction strategies, content and/or modes of production." The award went to Mike Mills' "Beginners," which was based on events from Mills' own life.

The late Tim Hetherington's "Diary," an impressionistic chronicle of his life in combat zones, won the award for a short film.

Frederick Wiseman's landmark 1967 doc "Titicut Follies" was given the Legacy Award, which recognizes classics of the form.

The awards:

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking: "The Interrupters"
Directed by Steve James
Produced by Alex Kotlowitz and Steve James

Outstanding Achievement in Direction: Steve James, "The Interrupters"

Audience Choice Prize: "Buck"
Directed by Cindy Meehl

Outstanding Achievement in Production: Gian-Piero Ringel and Wim Wenders, "Pina"

Outstanding Achievement in Editing:  Gregers Sall and Chris King, "Senna"

Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography: Danfung Dennis, "Hell and Back Again"

Spotlight Award: "The Tiniest Place"
Directed by Tatiana Huezo Sánchez

Heterodox Award: "Beginners"
Directed by Mike Mills
Presented by Kimberly Reed and Alrick Brown

Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking: "Diary"
Directed by Tim Hetherington

Outstanding Achievement in an Original Music Score: John Kusiak, "Tabloid"

Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design and Animation:  Rob Feng and Jeremy Landman, "Tabloid"

Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film: Clio Barnard, "The Arbor"

Hell Yeah Prize: Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, The "Paradise Lost" Trilogy

Legacy Award: "Titicut Follies"
Directed by Frederick Wiseman