‘Kokomo City’ Leads in Cinema Eye Honors Documentary Nominations in Fractured Awards Year

“20 Days in Mariupol,” “The Eternal Memory” and “32 Sounds” also score multiple nods

"Kokomo City" (Magnolia PIctures)

“Kokomo City,” D. Smith’s documentary about four trans Black women in New York and Georgia, led all films in nominations for the 17th annual Cinema Eye Honors, the New York-based awards designed to spotlight all facets of nonfiction filmmaking.

The film received six nominations, including Outstanding Nonfiction Feature and Outstanding Direction. Mstyslav Chernov’s “20 Days in Mariupol,” Maite Alberdi’s “The Eternal Memory” and Sam Green’s “32 Sounds” followed with five nominations each.

In the Outstanding Nonfiction Feature category, “Kokomo City,” “The Eternal Memory,” “20 Days in Mariupol” and “32 Sounds” were joined by “Four Daughters,” “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” and “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie.”

Matthew Heineman’s “American Symphony” received nominations for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Score, making Heineman the third-most-nominated filmmaker in Cinema Eye history. With 12 nominations overall, he now trails Steve James and Laura Poitras by one.

While many of the Cinema Eye nominees are among the most-honored nonfiction films of 2023, the list also points to the fractured nature of this year. Only one of the seven Outstanding Nonfiction Feature nominees, “Going to Mars,” made the International Documentary Association’s 17-film shortlist for its top category at the IDA Documentary Awards, the other major ceremony devoted to docs. Two of the seven also made the Gotham Awards’ documentary category, three of the seven were on the DOC NYC shortlist of likely awards titles and four of the seven were top nominees at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards.

Nominees for the Cinema Eye Heterodox Award, which honors films that blend fiction and nonfiction techniques, include Celine Song’s “Past Lives,” Kaouther Ben Hania’s “Four Daughters” and Morissa Maltz’s “Unknown Country.”

Netflix led all distributors with 11 nominations, followed by Magnolia Pictures with 10, National Geographic with eight and HBO and Hulu with seven each.

Additional nominations in broadcast categories were previously announced.

The Cinema Eye Honors were established in 2007 in New York City. In its early years, it typically offered a different and more adventurous alternative to the kind of nonfiction films that were nominated in the Oscars’ Best Documentary Feature category. But as the Academy’s Documentary Branch has grown in size and diversity, the two bodies have found themselves agreeing more often than not.

Last year, four of the five Oscar-nominated documentaries were first nominated by the Cinema Eye Honors.

The nominees:

Outstanding Nonfiction Feature
— “20 Days in Mariupol”
— “32 Sounds”
— “The Eternal Memory”
— “Four Daughters”
— “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project”
— “Kokomo City”
— “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie”

Outstanding Direction
— Sam Green | 32 Sounds
— Wim Wenders | Anselm
— Maite Alberdi | The Eternal Memory
— Kaouther Ben Hania | Four Daughters
— D. Smith | Kokomo City
— Claire Simon | Our Body

Outstanding Editing
— Michelle Mizner | 20 Days in Mariupol
— Nels Bangerter | 32 Sounds
— Carolina Siraqyan | The Eternal Memory
— Mikel Cee Karlsson, Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson | Fantastic Machine
— Alain Gomis | Rewind & Play
— Michael Harte | Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie

Outstanding Production
— Mstyslav Chernov, Michelle Mizner, Raney Aronson Rath and Derl McCrudden | 20 Days in Mariupol
— Lauren Domino, Matthew Heineman and Joedan Okun | American Symphony
— Samuel Ekomol, Andrew H. Brown and Moses Thursnira | Between the Rains
— Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen and Sue Mi Terry | Beyond Utopia
— Christopher Sharp and John Battsek | Bobi Wine: The People’s President
— Margreth Olin | Songs of Earth

Outstanding Cinematography
— Franz Lustig | Anselm
— Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor | De Humani Corporis Fabrica
— Curren Sheldon | King Coal
— D. Smith | Kokomo City
— Ants Tammik | Smoke Sauna Sisterhood
— Lars Erlend Tubaas Øymo | Songs of Earth

Outstanding Original Score
— JD Samson | 32 Sounds
— Jon Batiste | American Symphony
— Leonard Küßner | Anselm
— Samora Pinderhughes and Chris Pattishall | Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project
— Philip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan | The Pigeon Tunnel
— Rebekka Karijord | Songs of Earth

Outstanding Sound Design
— Mark Mangini | 32 Sounds
— Adam Prescod, Greg Gettens and Will Chapman | The Deepest Breath
— Nicolas Becker | De Humani Corporis Fabrica
— Roni Pillischer | Kokomo City
— Huldar Freyr Arnarson and Edvard Egilsson | Smoke Sauna Sisterhood
— Arturo “Frosty” Salazar, María Alejandra Rojas and Alison O’Daniel | The Tuba Thieves

Outstanding Visual Design
— Melissa McClung | The Arc of Oblivion
— Thomas Curtis and Sean Pierce | Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project
— Jason Carpenter and Holly Stone | The Mission
— Hyung Cho and Helen Niu | Nam June Paik: Moon is the Oldest TV
— Juan Carlos Concha Riveros, Carlos León Sancha and Marcello Quintanilha | They Shot the Piano Player

Outstanding Debut
— 20 Days in Mariupol | Directed by Mstyslav Chernov
— Bobi Wine: The People’s President | Directed by Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp
— Kokomo City | Directed by D. Smith
— Orlando, My Political Biography | Directed by Paul B. Preciado
— Smoke Sauna Sisterhood | Directed by Anna Hints
— The Tuba Thieves | Directed by Alison O’Daniel

Outstanding Nonfiction Short
— Away | Directed by Ruslan Fedotow
— Between Earth & Sky | Directed by Andrew Nadkami
— Black Girls Play: The Story of Hand Games | Directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson
— Neighbour Abdi | Directed by Douwe Dijkstra
— Oasis | Directed by Justine Martin
— Will You Look at Me | Directed by Shuli Huang

Audience Choice Prize
— 20 Days in Mariupol | Directed by Mstyslav Chernov
— American Symphony | Directed by Matthew Heineman
— Beyond Utopia | Directed by Madeleine Gavin
— Bobi Wine: The People’s President | Directed by Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp
— Confessions of a Good Samaritan | Directed by Penny Lane
— The Deepest Breath | Directed by Laura McGann
— The Eternal Memory | Directed by Maite Alberdi
— Invisible Beauty | Directed by Bethann Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng
— Joan Baez I Am a Noise | Directed by Karen O’Connor, Miri Navasky and Maeve O’Boyle
— Smoke Sauna Sisterhood | Directed by Anna Hints

— Against the Tide | Directed by Sarvnik Kaur
— Anhell69 | Directed by Theo Montoya
— Bad Press | Directed by Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler
— Cette Maison (This House) | Directed by Miryam Charles
— Midwives | Directed by Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing
— Q | Directed by Jude Chehab

— The Buriti Flower | Directed by João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora
— The Echo | Directed by Tatiana Huezo
— Four Daughters | Directed by Kaouther Ben Hania
— Past Lives | Directed by Celine Song
— Reality | Directed by Tina Satter
— The Unknown Country | Directed by Morrisa Maltz


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