Strong Island, director Yance Ford’s exploration into the death of his brother, took home three major awards at the 11th Annual Cinema Eye Honors, held on Thursday (Jan. 11).
The film (pictured), which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, recounts the story of Ford’s brother, William Jr., an unarmed 24-year-old African-American teacher who was killed by Mark Reilly, a white 19-year-old mechanic, during a dispute over repairs in April 1992. The local prosecutor brought the case before a grand jury, composed of 23 white people, who chose not to indict Reilly for the crime.
Strong Island, which was produced by Yanceville Films and Louverture Films, took home honors for Outstanding Direction, Outstanding Debut and Outstanding Nonfiction Feature Film.
It’s the first time in Cinema Eye history that a debut film has won the award for Outstanding Direction. Ford also joins a select group of filmmakers to win three honors in a single year, including last year’s top winner Kristen Johnson (Cameraperson).
Brett Morgen‘s Jane was recognized in two categories. The portrait of primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall took home the awards for Audience Choice Prize, voted on by more than 15,000 members of the public, and Outstanding Score for composer Philip Glass.
Four additional Academy Awards shortlisted documentaries received Cinema Eye.
Last Men in Aleppo was feted with Outstanding Production honors for Kareem Abeed, Stefan Kloos and Soren Steen Jespersen; Chasing Coral was presented with Outstanding Cinematography for Andrew Ackerman and Jeff Orlowski; and Long Strange Trip‘s Stefan Nadelman won Outstanding Graphic Design.
The prize for Outstanding Editing went to Lindsay Utz for her work on Jonathan Olshefski’s Quest, a multi-year portrait of a North Philadelphia family.
Director Bryan Fogel and producer Dan Cogan, meanwhile, were presented with the Hell Yeah Prize for Icarus.
Elsewhere, Ryan White‘s Netflix docuseries The Keepers took the prize for Outstanding Nonfiction Filmmaking for Broadcast or Streaming, while the winner of the Spotlight Award was Gustavo Salmerón for Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle.
Sean Baker’s documentary-hybrid The Florida Project, which provides a poignant look at childhood, received the HeterodoxAward for films that blur the line between fiction and nonfiction.
Leon Gast, meanwhile, was presented with the Legacy Award for his landmark classic, When We Were Kings.
Digital streaming giant Netflix received more awards than any other distributor, winning a total of 6 awards.
Founded in 2007, the Cinema Eye organization recognizes the entire creative team behind a documentary, and presents craft awards in categories including directing, producing, cinematography and editing, among others. Nominees for the group’s feature awards are determined by a committee of international documentary programmers.
The full list of awards winners follows below:
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking
Directed by Yance Ford
Produced by Joslyn Barnes and Yance Ford
Outstanding Achievement in Direction
Outstanding Achievement in Editing
Outstanding Achievement in Production
Kareem Abeed, Stefan Kloos and Søren Steen Jespersen
Last Men in Aleppo
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Andrew Ackerman and Jeff Orlowski
Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Score
Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation
Long Strange Trip
Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film
Directed by Yance Ford
Audience Choice Prize
Directed by Brett Morgen
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Films Made for Television
Directed by Ryan White
For Netflix: Ben Cotner, Jason Spingarn-Koff and Lisa Nishimura
Lots of Kids, A Monkey and a Castle
Directed by Gustavo Salmerón
Outstanding Achievement in Nonfiction Short Filmmaking
The Rabbit Hunt
Directed by Patrick Bresnan
The Florida Project
Directed by Sean Baker
When We Were Kings
Directed by Leon Gast
Hell Yeah Prize
Directed by Bryan Fogel