The awards, co-founded by documentary film programmer Thom Powers (Toronto Film Festival) and documentary filmmaker AJ Schnack (Kurt Cobain: About A Son, 2007), were presented for the first time on March 18, 2008, in an entertaining, well-attended ceremony at the IFC Center in New York City.
The Cinema Eye Awards Inaugural Ceremony - 2008
The inaugural awards ceremony at New York's IFC Center gathered leading names in documentary filmmaking. Presenters included award-winning filmmakers Barbara Koppel, Sam Pollard, Alex Gibney, Alan Berliner, Ross Kauffman, Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern, Bruce Sinofsky and Joe Berlinger, and Molly Thompson (founder of A&E Indie Films). The attractive Cinema Eye Award is pewter-colored metal and stands about a foot tall. It's a large eye with a crystal lens and metal lashes, perched on a two legs standing on a square metal base. Winners names are inscribed on the bottom of the base.
The winner of the first-ever Cinema Eye Award for Best Documentary was Manda Bala, directed by Jason Kohn. The film is a fascinating exploration of the intriguing (and alarming) relationships between kidnappers, plastic surgeons, frog ranchers and the corrupt government of Sao Paolo, Brazil. Manda Bala also won Cinema Eyes for Outstanding Editing and Outstanding Cinematography. The list of 2008 winners includes Taxi to the Dark Side for Best Direction by Alex Gibney.
The Cinema Eye Awards is sponsored by Indie Pix, a company devoted to expanding the audience for independent film by overcoming the barriers that separate the filmmaker and his fans by providing alternative distribution--mostly by an exclusive Download-to-DVD system.