I’m not generally swept away by Awards season fever (Globes, Oscars, Guild and Critics nods), but I do appreciate the yearly efforts of the Cinema Eye Honors to put the focus exclusively on the best non-fiction filmmaking of the year. The fact that most awards bodies typically only have a single award for documentary vs scores for fiction underscores the need to advocate for recognition of the form.
But, wait, did I say the CEH were “exclusively” focused on non-fiction? Not quite, at least starting with this year’s awards. Yesterday, Co-Chairs AJ Schnack (of noted doc blog All These Wonderful Things and documentarian) and Esther B Robinson (documentarian and my fellow co-producer on THE CANAL STREET MADAM – full disclosure/gratuitous plug) announced their new Heterodox Award, honoring a narrative film that intentionally blurs the line between fiction/non-fiction. The first nominees, selected by the award’s sponsor, Filmmaker Magazine, are an eclectic, inspired choice of films: Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio’s ALAMAR, Matt Porterfield’s PUTTY HILL, Michelangelo Frammartino’s LE QUATTRO VOLTE, Lena Dunham’s TINY FURNITURE, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES.
I love this idea, which of course continues the ongoing dialogue around documentary/narrative hybrids and films engaging in slippage between the forms – ie fictional documentaries or narratives using documentary techniques (THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, THE LAST EXORCISM, I’M STILL HERE) and recent documentaries that may or may not be wholly “real,” whatever that means (CATFISH, EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP). A notable harbinger of the Heterodox Award was witnessed at the 2009 CPH:DOX, when the fictional non-film TRASH HUMPERS was surprisingly awarded the documentary festival’s Grand Jury Prize, speaking to this boundary breaking between fiction/nonfiction.
The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking will be held on January 18 at New York’s newly-renovated Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. For information regarding tickets, clink on the link in the first paragraph.