Laura Poitras, Werner Herzog, Alex Gibney Make Cinema Eye List of Top Documentary Filmmakers

Most important non-fiction films of the last decade include “Citizenfour,” “Waltz With Bashir” and “Exit Through the Gift Shop”

Laura Poitras
Laura Poitras; photo by Getty Images

Werner Herzog, Alex Gibney, Laura Poitras and Steve James are among the most important documentary filmmakers of the last decade, according to a list announced on Wednesday by Cinema Eye, a New York-based organization devoted to recognizing the best in non-fiction filmmaking.

The 10 Filmmakers/20 Films project was launched by Cinema Eye to celebrate the organization’s first decade of existence. The other filmmakers who made the list of the top documentary filmmakers of the last 10 years are Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, Patricio Guzman, Kim Longinotto, Joshua Oppenheimer, Bill Ross and Turner Ross and Frederick Wiseman.

The list was created by compiling ballots from 110 “key members of the documentary community,” according to a Cinema Eye release. (Full disclosure: I was a voter.)

The voters also chose 20 films as the most important and influential of the past 10 years. Those films included Oscar winners “Citizenfour” and “Man on Wire,” as well as “The Act of Killing,” “The Arbor,” “Cutie and the Boxer,” “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” “The Interrupters,” “Leviathan,” “Nostalgia for the Light,” “Senna,” “Stories We Tell,” “Waltz With Bashir” and “Marwencol,” among others.

The winning films and filmmakers will be honored on Nov. 2 at a Cinema Eye event in New York City. At the same time, the organization will announce the nominees for the 10th annual Cinema Eye Honors, which will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 11, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York.

The Museum of the Moving Image will also host a 10-week screening series devoted to the films and filmmakers on the Cinema Eye list. The series will kick off on Nov. 4 with Laura Poitras screening her films “My Country, My Country,” “The Oath” and “Citizenfour.”

The list of Cinema Eye Decade Filmmakers, including their films that were nominated for Cinema Eye Honors:

Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady: “12th and Delaware” (2011), “Detropia” (2013), “The Education of Mohammed Hussain” (2014)
Alex Gibney: “Taxi to the Dark Side” (2008), “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson” (2009), “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God” (2014), “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks” (2014)and “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” (2015)
Patricio Guzman: “Nostalgia for the Light” (2012)
Werner Herzog: “Encounters at the End of the World” (2009), “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” (2012), “Into the Abyss” (2013)
Steve James: “The Interrupters” (2012), “Life Itself” (2015)
Kim Longinotto: “Rough Aunties” (2010), “Dreamcatcher” (2016)
Joshua Oppenheimer: “The Act of Killing” (2014), “The Look of Silence” (2016)
Laura Poitras: “The Oath” (2011), “Death of a Prisoner” (2014), “Citizenfour” (2015)
Bill Ross and Turner Ross: “45365” (2010), “Tchoupitoulas” (2013), “Western” (2016)
Frederick Wiseman: “La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”(2011), “In Jackson Heights” (2016)

Cinema Eye Decade Films, including their Cinema Eye Honors wins:
“The Act of Killing” (2014), directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (Outstanding Feature, Production)
“The Arbor” (2012), directed by Clio Barnard (Outstanding Debut)
“Citizenfour” (2015), directed by Laura Poitras (Outstanding Feature, Direction, Production, Editing)
“Cutie and the Boxer” (2014), directed by Zachary Heinzerling (Outstanding Debut, Score, Graphic Design and Animation)
“Exit Through the Gift Shop” (2011), directed by Banksy (Outstanding Feature, Editing)
“How to Survive a Plague” (2013), directed by David France (Outstanding Editing)
“The Interrupters” (2012), directed by Steve James (Outstanding Feature, Direction)
“Iraq in Fragments” (2007), directed by James Longley
“Last Train Home” (2011), directed by Lixin Fan (Outstanding Production, Cinematography, International Feature)
“Leviathan” (2014), directed by Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel (Outstanding Cinematography)
“The Look of Silence” (2016), directed by Joshua Oppenheimer (Outstanding Feature, Direction, Production)
“Man on Wire” (2009), directed by James Marsh (Outstanding Feature, Production, Editing)
“Manda Bala (Send a Bullet)” (2008), directed by Jason Kohn (Outstanding Feature, Editing, Cinematography)
“Marwencol” (2011), directed by Jeff Malmberg (Outstanding Debut)
“Nostalgia for the Light” (2012), directed by Patricio Guzman
“The Oath” (2011), directed by Laura Poitras (Outstanding Direction)
“The Order of Myths” (2009), directed by Margaret Brown
“Senna” (2012), directed by Asif Kapadia (Outstanding Editing)
“Stories We Tell” (2014), directed by Sarah Polley (Outstanding Direction)
“Waltz With Bashir” (2009), directed by Ari Folman (Outstanding Direction, Score, Graphic Design and Animation, International Feature)