We wrapped the fourth annual Cinema Eye Honors 6 days ago at the newly re-opened Museum of the Moving Image (where we were still inaugurating some of their equipment and where not everything, including the thermostats, were fully operational) and now things are slowly but surely getting back into regular gear, at least around these parts.
I'm beginning to think that I should just hang a sign on the blog come the top of January that reads "Gone Fishin'" or something...
For the rest of the doc world, Cinema Eye was but one event (or series of events), a stop en route to Sundance or to tomorrow's Oscar nominations or to whatever the next festival or party or envelope opening comes to call.
But for those of us who've been working behind the scenes on this year's ceremony, this year was something really quite special.
While I always love the event/ceremony, and it's great to see so many friends, colleagues and people I admire, this year was particularly important to us as it marked the first time that we produced the event entirely by ourselves. We obviously had a lot of help - people who gave of their time and talents, sponsors who contributed cash and bottles of gin and spaces in which we could hand out very heavy, seemingly-dangerous trophies.
But this year was a truly hand-made event and it resonated personally because I knew how much work we all had put into it.
I so fortunate to have a great team, particularly my partners Nathan Truesdell and Esther Robinson. The three of us have been meeting and talking and conspiring over ways to pull off Cinema Eye 2011 pretty much since the day after Cinema Eye 2010. And I'd be lying if I said that we weren't already talking about Cinema Eye 2012.
For us, Cinema Eye is about celebrating collaborations and recognizing the work of the entire team that makes these movies that we love. So, it's kind of essential that the three of us know how to riff off of each other, to know when to push and pull, and to trust in the others' core belief about the thing that we are doing (which, in our minds at least, is more than about handing out trophies). Because Esther and I get to stand on the stage and crack-wise, it's important to emphasize that this is truly a 3-headed monster and that Nate's contributions to Cinema Eye throughout the year have been intrinsic to its success.
Beyond my two co-conspirators, we have a great crew of extended family, led by our nominations chair Sean Farnel and our advisory board chair Andrea Meditch. The two of them, as well as our numerous advisors (special shout outs to Matt Dentler, Thom Powers, Rachel Rosen, Debra Zimmerman and Ryan Harrington), keep steering us down the right path.
This year, we had special assists from Brian Geldin, Lainey Hughes, Jennifer Razor, Ingrid Kopp, Natalie Difford, Maxyne Franklin, Robert Greene, James Benson, Bernardo Britto and Michael Forstein. We had our amazing design team - our art director Ryan Nelson and our lead illustrator Ben Chlapek who created all the amazing graphics for this years films. Plus we had the onstage talents of The Quavers (T. Griffin, Catherine McRae and Dennis Cronin) who kicked off the show with an excerpt from Sam Green and Dave Cerf's UTOPIA IN FOUR MOVEMENTS, narrated by Mr. Green himself.
Finally, I can't forget our sponsors, without whom there would have been no Cinema Eye this year - particularly our partners at the Museum of the Moving Image (David Schwartz and Rachael Rakes) who dealt with us even as they were still opening their doors, but also everyone at the Documentary Channel, the Economist, HBO Documentary Films, A&E IndieFilms, SnagFilms, POV, Abel Cine Tech, Sheffield Doc/Fest, Hot Docs, Camden International Film Festival, Hudson Hotel, Danish Film Institute, Maine Distilleries and the Film Sales Company.
You'll get to see the fruits of this labor - in slightly abbreviated form - when the ceremony airs on the Documentary Channel (available on DirectTV, Dish and some cable systems) this Sunday night at 8 PM eastern and pacific.
I don't think it matters if the winners are known; the on-camera reactions and the speeches - particularly the one you may have read about from Banksy - are more fun to watch than just reading the recaps, as good as many of them were.
But if you're interested in other's thoughts/recaps about this year's event, you can find them from Brian Brooks at indieWIRE, Matt Singer at IFC, Steve Pond at The Wrap, Scott Macauley at Filmmaker Magazine, Jennifer Merin at about.com and Melena Ryzik at The New York Times' The Carpetbagger blog.
One last, personal, note: As I said before we announced the final award of the evening, I want to congratulate all of this year's nominees. We talk a lot about what an extraordinary year it was, but I don't talk as often - here on the blog, at least - about how inspiring, how personally rejuvinating, the artistic achievements of this year have been. So while Cinema Eye is centered around this idea of voting and winning and being nominated, I want to send my personal thanks to the filmmakers of 2010 and thank them for the numerous ways in which they call on me to be a better filmmaker.