Am back in Los Angeles, still in recovery mode from the whirlwind of the past month, which began with awards week in LA in late February, followed by True/False, a week of shooting in Branson, Austin for this year's SXSW and finally, the full flung head race toward Sunday's event at the Times Center in New York.
As the curtain came down on this year's Cinema Eye Honors, I felt that somewhat predictable mix of happiness, satisfaction, bleary-eyed confusion and outright post-partum that comes when all the work of the previous year suddenly comes to a quick conclusion.
I'll be posting a bit in the next week on this year's awards, but wanted to offer a few - still in the midst of it all - reflections...
I loved our new venue at the Times Center. It's a great room - wide but not terribly deep - and from the stage you could see everyone in the audience (which, for me, was a crazy mix of old home week and documentary all-stars). Everything about the ceremony flowed extremely smoothly - a credit to our stage manager Matt Posorske and technical director Jason Tyrell, as well as the enthusiastic, professional team at the Times Center. Look forward to returning there for future Cinema Eye ceremonies.
It was wonderful to have so many of last year's honored filmmakers in attendance - James Marsh, Margaret Brown, Ellen Kuras, Thavi Phrasavath, Yung Chang, Jermiah Zagar, Chris Bell, Geoffrey Smith, Morgan Spurlock, Sascha Paladino, Jody Shapiro, Jinx Godfrey and Sara Cross, amongst them - and terrific to have so many from the NYC documentary community turnout, particularly our presenters - Jennifer Venditti, Gary Hustwit, Laurie Anderson, Jean Tsien, Nina Davenport, Spurlock, Andrea Meditch, Jehane Noujaim, Albert Maysles, DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.
I'll admit to somewhat conflicted feelings about this year's winners. When I first thought of these awards, I imagined an event that would honor films that excelled at the creative arts, rather than tipping a hat to a movie solely because it had "done good". So, on one level, one can't help but argue that it's entirely appropriate that a film like WALTZ WITH BASHIR, with its innovative use of animation and music in its story-telling, should walk off with four Cinema Eye Honors. Or that a film like MAN ON WIRE, would conclude its sweep of the year-end awards with a speech at the Times Center podium.
In short, WALTZ and WIRE - beloved by audiences, critics and certainly our voters - are exactly the kinds of films I was thinking of when I pondered Cinema Eye. Still, I wouldn't have minded if voters had spread the love to include something for MY WINNIPEG, ORDER OF MYTHS, BETRAYAL or any other of this year's exceptional nominees - nor, I suspect, would WIRE director James Marsh or WALTZ animator David Polonsky - called to the stage four times (and each time with a hilarious anecdote - that's him, below, in Times Square with a box full of Cinema Eyes on his shoulder) have minded to hear other names called from the envelopes. That speaks, I think, to the generosity of feeling that existed in the room on Sunday - which Marsh referenced during the filmmaker panel when he spoke of a feeling of community in the nonfiction world that he finds absent in the narrative/fiction world.
As I mentioned in my exchange with Matt Dentler, last year's awards felt like a crazy express train barrelling down the track. This year, we had more time to think about the kind of event that Cinema Eye will be in the future, and I suspect that we will have more conversations about that as we begin to plan CEH2010.
But I can't help but be happy with Sunday's gathering and proud of the efforts of everyone involved - particularly the entire Cinema Eye team, led by Sally Plourde and Danielle DiGiacamo, our graphics wizard Kyle Walters, key team members Nicholas Doldinger, Arielle DiGiacamo and Zack Boger, everyone at IndiePix, who continued their incredible support of Cinema Eye at a time when sponsorship is drying up, specifically Bob Alexander. And thanks, once again, to my co-chair Thom Powers for jumping aboard the express train last year and helping to keep things on track in New York for year two.
On a strictly personal note, this year's Cinema Eye allowed me to indulge in a bit of show business, which was a tremendous amount of fun. My particular thanks to my pals Yance Ford and Dan Miller for joining me onstage in these efforts, and also to Patricia Halsell-Richardson and her daughter Carla for bringing some of the Mobile Mardi Gras to New York City.
More on this year's Cinema Eyes, including links to the thoughts of others, in the days to come.
Photos from this year's event can be found on the Cinema Eye website, with video due shortly.