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'The Interrupters' & Frederick Wiseman Censored Classic 'Titicut Follies': Cinema Eye Honors

Titicut Follies documentary, Frederick Wiseman
Frederick Wiseman's Titicut Follies

Steve James' The Interrupters topped the 2012 Cinema Eye Honors announced earlier this evening. The Interrupters received honors as Best Nonfiction Film and for Best Director, a first in the organization's five-year history.

Despite generally positive reviews and several US-based critics' awards, The Interrupters is not in the running for the 2012 Oscars. Curiously, seventeen years ago the absence of James' Hoop Dreams from the list of Academy Award nominees sparked a furor against the Academy's Documentary Branch.

“Tonight, I don't care about the Oscars!” James exclaimed while accepting his award from Michael Moore, the Academy's current Documentary Branch governor. Moore recently came up with new (and somewhat controversial) rules that are intended to open up the selection of semi-finalists and nominees for the Best Documentary Feature Oscar.

Among this year's other Cinema Eye Honor winners were Cindy Meehl's Buck, which took home the Audience Choice Prize; Wim Wenders' Pina, winner of the Outstanding Achievement in Production Award (Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel) and Germany's submission for Best Foreign Language Film; and Asif Kapadia's Senna, winner for Outstanding Achievement in Editing (Gregers Sall and Chris King) and another widely praised documentary that failed to be included among the Academy's semi-finalists.

One Cinema Eye Honors curiosity is the Heterodox Award, given to “a narrative film that imaginatively incorporates nonfiction strategies, content and/or modes of production.” This year's winner was Mike Mills' Beginners, starring Ewan McGregor and (potential Best Supporting Actor contender) Christopher Plummer as son and gay father, and which was based on Mills' relationship with his own father.

The Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking went to Tim Hetherington's combat documentary Diary, which has also been bypassed by the Academy. The 41-year-old Hetherington died in April 2011 while covering the Libyan civil war.

Frederick Wiseman's 1967 Titicut Follies, a harrowing peek into a Bridgewater, Massachusetts, Correctional Institution for the mentally ill was named the winner of the Legacy Award. Purportedly due to “privacy concerns” – and the government of Massachusetts' successful censorship initiative – Titicut Follies was banned in the United States until 1992. (In 1948, Olivia de Havilland earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Anatole Litvak's similarly themed – but much sentimentalized – narrative melodrama The Snake Pit.)

Steve James' quote via Steve Pond's article in TheWrap

Titicut Follies photo: Zipporah Films

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