Cinema Eye Honors Nominees: ‘American Utopia’ and ‘City So Real’ Top Broadcast Categories

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Cinema Eye Honors, an influential bellwether in the race for documentary awards, kicked off its 15th year with non-fiction award-winners announced at its annual Los Angeles lunch attended by many top filmmakers. Steve James’ five-part Chicago series “City So Real,” and Spike Lee’s filmed portrait of David Byrne’s Broadway show “American Utopia” lead the Cinema Eye Honors broadcast nominations list with three nods apiece. “David Byrne’s American Utopia” is one of five films up for Outstanding Broadcast Film, while “City So Real” joins five other series in the Nonfiction Series category. Both projects were nominated for Outstanding Broadcast Editing and Cinematography.

“It is notable that both of this year’s most nominated Broadcast entries are part of the creative legacy of Diane Weyermann,” said Cinema Eye Founding Director AJ Schnack. The beloved documentary veteran, who died last week, was an Executive Producer on both “City So Real” and “American Utopia.”

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While Steve James continues his run as the most nominated filmmaker in Cinema Eye history, with a total of 13 total nominations, Lee joins the Cinema Eye ranks for the first time. It’s the third nod for his cinematographer, Ellen Kuras (“The Betrayal “).

Cinema Eye, founded in 2007 to recognize excellence in artistry and craft in nonfiction filmmaking, is the only international nonfiction award to recognize the whole creative team.

For the first time, Cinema Eye is presenting an award for Anthology Series, recognizing episodic nonfiction. Among the inaugural nominees are Martin Scorsese and Fran Lebowitz for “Pretend It’s a City,” Nathan Fielder and John Wilson for “How to with John Wilson,” Fabienne Toback, Karis Jagger, and Roger Ross Williams for “High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Changed America,” and Padma Lakshmi for “Taste the Nation with Padme Lakshmi.”

HBO led all networks and platforms with 14 nominations, including two for “How to with John Wilson.” Broadcast Film nominations are for Nanfu Wang’s “In the Same Breath” and Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s “Tina.” “Disclosure,” a Netflix original about the importance of transgender representation in media, and the Stacey Abrams documentary, “All In: The Fight for Democracy,” round out the Broadcast Film nominees.

Asif Kapadia, nominated previously for his films “Senna” and Oscar-winner “Amy,” returns to Cinema Eye with his Apple Original series “1971: The Year that Music Changed Everything.” Raoul Peck, who was nominated for his Oscar-nominated “I Am Not Your Negro,” is up for his HBO series “Exterminate All the Brutes.” Greg Whiteley is nominated this year for “Last Chance U: Basketball.” “The Lady and the Dale” and “Philly D.A.” round out the Nonfiction Series nominees.

Cinema Eye Honors is giving Cheryl Dunye’s landmark 1996 indie “The Watermelon Woman” the Legacy Award, recognizing a classic film that continues to inspire today’s filmmakers. When it debuted 25 years ago, “The Watermelon Woman” was the first narrative feature from an opening gay Black filmmaker. Dunye played a version of herself, a documentary filmmaker determined to uncover the story of black actress Fae Richards, credited only as “The Watermelon Woman” in a film called “Plantation Memories.”

This year’s Cinema Eye Honors annual Shorts List includes 11 semi-finalists for its Nonfiction Short Film Honor, due to a tie in the voting.

The full list of Cinema Eye nominations will be announced in three weeks, on Wednesday, November 10. The 15th Annual Cinema Eye Honors Awards Ceremony and Cinema Eye Week will take place in January, with dates to be announced in the coming weeks.

Broadcast Film
“All In: The Fight for Democracy”
Directed by Liz Garbus and Lisa Cortés | Amazon

“David Byrne’s American Utopia”
Directed by Spike Lee | HBO

Directed by Sam Feder | Netflix

“In the Same Breath”
Directed by Nanfu Wang | HBO

Directed by Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin | HBO

Steve James directs “City So Real.” - Credit: NatGeo
Steve James directs “City So Real.” - Credit: NatGeo


Nonfiction Series

“1971: The Year that Music Changed Everything”
Directed by Asif Kapadia, Danielle Peck and James Rogan | Apple

“City So Real”
Driected by Steve James | National Geographic

“Exterminate All the Brutes”
Directed by Raoul Peck | HBO

“The Lady and the Dale”
Directed by Zackary Drucker and Nick Cammilleri | HBO

“Last Chance U: Basketball”
Directed by Greg Whiteley, Adam Leibowitz and Daniel George McDonald | Netflix

“Philly D.A.”
Directed by Yoni Brook, Ted Passon and Nicole Salazar | Independent Lens/PBS

“Pretend It’s a City” - Credit: Courtesy of Netflix
“Pretend It’s a City” - Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Anthology Series

“Earth at Night in Color”
Alex Williamson, Executive Producer | Apple

“Generation Hustle”
Angie Day and Yon Motskin, Executive Producers | HBO Max

“How to with John Wilson”
Directed by Nathan Fielder, Michael Koman, Clark Reinking and John Wilson, Executive Producers | HBO

“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America”
Fabienne Toback, Karis Jagger and Roger Ross Williams, Executive Producers | Netflix

“Pretend It’s a City”
Martin Scorsese, Fran Lebowitz, David Tedeschi, Ted Griffin, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Joshua Porter and Margaret Bodde, Executive Producers | Netflix

“Taste the Nation with Padme Lakshmi”
Padma Lakshmi, David Shadrack Smith and Sarina Roma, Executive Producers | Hulu

“Allen v. Farrow” - Credit: HBO
“Allen v. Farrow” - Credit: HBO


Broadcast Editing

“Allen v Farrow”
Mikaela Shwer, Parker Laramie and Sara Newens | HBO

“City So Real”
David E. Simpson and Steve James | National Geographic

“David Byrne’s American Utopia”
Adam Gough | HBO

“Exterminate All the Brutes”
Alexandra Strauss | HBO

“How to with John Wilson”
Adam Locke-Norton | HBO

Outstanding Broadcast Cinematography

“100 Foot Wave”
Nominees to be determined | HBO

“City So Real”
Jackson James and Steve James | National Geographic

“David Byrne’s American Utopia”
Ellen Kuras | HBO

“Earth at Night in Color”
Nominees to be determined | Apple

“High on the Hog: How African American Cuisine Transformed America”
Jerry Henry | Netflix

Legacy Award

“The Watermelon Woman”
Written and Directed by Cheryl Dunye
Produced by Alexandra Juhasz and Barry Swimar
Edited by Annie Taylor
Cinematography Michelle Crenshaw
Original Score Paul Shapiro

Shorts List

Directed by Maite Zubiaurre & Kristy Guevara-Flanagan

“The Last Cruise”
Directed by Hannah Olson

“A Broken House”
Directed by Jimmy Goldblum

Directed by Emma Francis-Snyder

“Terror Contagion”
Directed by Laura Poitras

“Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma”
Directed by Topaz Jones

“Three Songs for Benazir”
Directed by Elizabeth Mirzaei and Gulistan Mirzaei

Directed by Michèle Stephenson

“We Were There to Be There”
Directed by Mike Plante and Jason Willis

“Jobs for all!”
Directed by Axel Danielson & Maximillien Van Aertryck

“Your Street”
Directed by Güzin Kar

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