’32 Sounds’ Wins Cinema Eye Honors Award as Top Documentary

“32 Sounds,” Sam Green’s immersive documentary and performance piece about sound, has been named the best documentary of 2023 at the 17th annual Cinema Eye Honors, an awards show designed to celebrate all facets of nonfiction filmmaking. The show took place on Friday night at the New York Academy of Medicine in East Harlem in New York City.

“32 Sounds” also won awards for its music by JD Samson and its sound design by Mark Mangini.

The Outstanding Director category ended in a tie between Maite Alberdi for “The Eternal Memory” and Kaouther Ben Hania for “Four Daughters.”

D. Smith’s “Kokomo City” won the award for the best debut feature, while “Bobi Wine: The People’s President” won the Audience Choice Award, the one category selected through online voting open to the public.

Other awards went to “20 Days in Mariupol” for production, “Smoke Sauna Sisterhood” for cinematography, “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie” for editing and “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” for visual design.

In the broadcast categories, “The Stroll” won the award for best broadcast film, “Paul T. Goldman” for best broadcast series and “The 1619 Project” for best anthology series.

“Black Girls Play: The Story of Hand Games” won the award for nonfiction short film.

The Cinema Eye Honors were founded in 2007 in New York City. In the ceremony’s first 16 years, its winner has matched the Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature only four times, with “Man on Wire,” “The Cove,” “Citizenfour” and “American Factory.” But the Cinema Eye winner has been nominated for the top nonfiction Oscar in all but three of those years.

Most of the Cinema Eye winners, including “32 Sounds,” “Bobi Wine,” “Eternal Memory,” “Four Daughters,” “Going to Mars,” “20 Days in Mariupol” and “Still,” are on the Oscars 15-film shortlist in the documentary feature category.

Cinema Eye nominations are selected by three different nominating committees made up of documentary programmers, curators, film critics and writers and Cinema Eye alumni. Final voting is done by more than 1,000 members of the documentary and filmmaking community. (Full disclosure: I am a Cinema Eye voter.)

The winners:

Outstanding Nonfiction Feature: “32 Sounds”
Directed by Sam Green
Produced by Josh Penn and Thomas O. Kriegsman

Outstanding Direction: (TIE) Maite AlMost of berdi, “The Eternal Memory” and Kaouther Ben Hania, “Four Daughters”

Outstanding Editing: Michael Harte, “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie”

Outstanding Production: Mstyslav Chernov, Michelle Mizner, Raney Aronson Rath and Derl McCrudden, “20 Days in Mariupol”

Outstanding Cinematography: Ants Tammik, “Smoke Sauna Sisterhood”

Outstanding Original Score: JD Samson, “32 Sounds”

Outstanding Sound Design: Mark Mangini, “32 Sounds”

Outstanding Visual Design: Thomas Curtis and Sean Pierce, “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project”

Outstanding Debut: “Kokomo City,” directed by D. Smith

Outstanding Nonfiction Short: “Black Girls Play: The Story of Hand Games,” directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson

Audience Choice Prize: “Bobi Wine: The People’s President,” directed by Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp 

Spotlight: “Q,” directed by Jude Chehab

Heterodox: “The Buriti Flower,” directed by João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora

Broadcast Film: “The Stroll,” directed by Kristen Lovell and Zackary Drucker

Nonfiction Series: “Paul T. Goldman,” directed by Jason Woliner

Anthology Series: “The 1619 Project”
Executive Producers: Nikole Hannah-Jones, Roger Ross Williams, Shoshana Guy, Caitlin Roper, Kathleen Lingo, Helen Verno and Oprah Winfrey

Broadcast Editing: “Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields”
Editors: Sara Newens, Anne Yao and David Teague

Broadcast Cinematography: “Nothing Lasts Forever”
Cinematographer: Heloisa Passos

Legacy Award: Penelope Spheeris

The Unforgettables (Non-Competitive Honor)
“American Symphony”: Jon Batiste and Suleika Jaouad
“Apolonia, Apolonia”: Apolonia Sokol
“Bobi Wine: The People’s President”: Bobi Wine
“Confessions of a Good Samaritan”: Penny Lane
“The Disappearance of Shere Hite”: Shere Hite
“The Eternal Memory”: Augusto Góngora & Paulina Urrutia
“Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project”: Nikki Giovanni
“Invisible Beauty”: Bethann Hardison
“Joan Baez I Am a Noise”: Joan Baez
“Kokomo City”: Daniella Carter, Koko Da Doll, Liyah Mitchell and Dominique Silver
“The Pigeon Tunnel”: David Cornwell aka John le Carré
“Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie”: Michael J. Fox
“A Still Small Voice”: Margaret “Mati” Engel
“Twice Colonized”: Aaju Peter
“While We Watched”: Ravish Kumar

Suleika Jaouad and Jon Batiste in "American Symphony" (Netflix)

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