Yance FordPOV series producer Yance Ford attended the Cinema Eye Awards on Sunday.

The Cinema Eye Honors were held on Sunday at the stunning Times Center on West 41st Street in Manhattan. Believe it or not, you might have seen the Times Center, or at least the building that it’s situated in, before: last summer when two guys scaled the outside New York Times building, it was all over the news. Well, the Times Center is on the ground floor. I half expected Philippe Petit — the daredevil, high wire walker from Man on Wire — to try to scale up the building too, but thankfully he stayed inside the theater.

AJ Schnack as king and Yance Ford as queen on stage at the Cinema Eye Awards

AJ Schnack and Yance Ford as king and queen of the Cinema Eye Awards


In fact, the theater was full for the ceremony, the second annual installment of an award that began last year. With straightforward eligibility guidelines and a transparent nominating process, 24 films were nominated for Cinema Eye across all categories, and 5 short films were honored as well. I presented the honored shorts (with kudos to Karen Cirillo for heading up that effort) after taking a stroll across the stage as the queen of the Cinema Eye(with blogger and award co-founder AJ Schnack as my king) for the evening.

You can find a complete breakdown of the films that took home the very sharp statues on the Cinema Eye website. Special congratulations to POV filmmaker Yung Chang, whose film Up the Yangtze, which aired on POV last summer, garnered two awards: Outstanding Debut Feature and the Audience Award.

Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk PhrasavathIt was great to see Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath, both looking radiant after completing their 23 year epic, The Betrayal (Nerakhoon), which airs later this summer on POV Christopher Bell, director of Bigger, Strong, Faster, was in attendance, as was Morgan Spurlock, director of Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden. David Polansky was up and down the aisles all night, collecting awards for Ari Folman‘s animated doc Waltz with Bashir. “I am not Ari Folman,” he quipped. “I just did the drawings.” Just the drawings, he says!

Sunday night wasn’t about winners and losers. It wasn’t about me dressing up as a Mardi Gras Queen (a once in a lifetime treat for those in the audience). Yes, some films took home the honors and others did not, but no one lost Sunday night. Up the Yangzte versus Encounters at the End of the World? My Winnepeg versus The Order of Myths? Like all good work, these films are in conversation, rather than competition, with each other. Waltz with Bashir and The Betrayal both plumb the depths of memory; Yangzte and Encounters explore both the force of nature and the forces of man; home, family and identity are the threads connecting Guy Maddin in My Winnepeg and Margaret Brown in The Order of Myths. This is only a smattering of comparisons and doesn’t even include the films who weren’t eligible for nominations. My point is this: Documentary films aren’t made in a vacuum, nor are they made for the echo chamber. They are made for the conversations: the dialogue they invoke, and the questions they ask of us and the men and women who make them. Cheers to everyone who labored so intensely last year to bring their films to the public. Here’s to more of the same in 2009.

AJ Schnack and Yance Ford in their crowns

AJ Schnack and Yance Ford. Photo by Amanda Lichtenberg.

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Yance works closely with POV's executive director and programming director to evaluate films submitted to POV She is instrumental in curating the series, a showcase of acclaimed documentary film on PBS. Yance frequently represents POV | American Documentary at conferences, festivals and markets, procuring work from filmmakers both nationally and internationally. Yance also oversees POV's annual call for entries, which yields upwards of one thousand entries, and coordinates POV's annual programming advisory board. Yance is a Programming Consultant and Pre- Screener for film festivals around the country, including the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, the Black Maria Film Festival, the Newport International Film Festival, Latino Public Broadcasting, Creative Capital and the Sundance Film Festival. She has served on festival juries at Full Frame and Silverdocs, appeared on panels at Sunny Side of the Doc and DocuClub and served on the IFP Advisory Committee. A graduate of Hamilton College and the production workshop at Third World Newsreel, Yance is a former Production Stage Manager for the Girls Choir of Harlem and has worked as a Production Manager on numerous independent productions for the Discovery Health and History channels. Ford has also worked in various capacities on the documentaries The Favorite Poem Project, Juanita Anderson, Executive Producer, Brian Lanker's They Drew Fire (PBS), and Barry Levinson's Yesterday's Tomorrows (Showtime).Yance's favorite documentaries include:1. Hands on a Hard Body2. Tongues Untied3. Harlan County, USA4. Cul de Sac5. When We Were Kings6. The Thin Blue Line7. Night and Fog