“Kokomo City” leads documentary nominations for “Cinema Eye Honors.”

“Kokomo City,” D. Smith’s documentary about four trans Black women in New York and Georgia, was the frontrunner in nominations for the 17th annual Cinema Eye Honors, the New York-based awards designed to highlight all facets of nonfiction filmmaking.

The film received six nominations, including Outstanding Nonfiction Feature and Outstanding Direction. This was followed by Mstyslav Chernov’s “20 Days in Mariupol”, Maite Alberdi’s “The Eternal Memory” and Sam Green’s “32 Sounds”, each with five nominations.

In the Outstanding Nonfiction Feature category, “Kokomo City,” “The Eternal Memory,” “20 Days in Mariupol” and “32 Sounds” were replaced by “Four Daughters,” “Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project” and “Still “ added: A Michael J. Fox film.”

Matthew Heineman’s “American Symphony” received nominations for Outstanding Production and Outstanding Original Score, making Heineman the third most nominated filmmaker in Cinema Eye history. With a total of 12 nominations, he is now one step behind Steve James and Laura Poitras.

Nikole Hannah-Jones interviews Niles Rodgers for "The 1619 Project" Documentations

While many of the Cinema Eye nominees are among the most awarded nonfiction films of 2023, the list also points to the divisiveness of this year. Only one of the seven outstanding nonfiction nominees, “Going to Mars,” made the International Documentary Association’s shortlist of 17 films in the top category at the IDA Documentary Awards, the other major documentary filmmaking ceremony. Two of the seven films also made it into the documentary category of the Gotham Awards, three of the seven were on the DOC NYC shortlist of likely awards shows, and four of the seven were top nominees at the Critics Choice Documentary Awards.

Nominees for the Cinema Eye Heterodox Award, which honors films that combine fiction and nonfiction, include Celine Song’s “Past Lives,” Kaouther Ben Hania’s “Four Daughters” and Morissa Maltz’s “Unknown Country.”

Netflix led all distributors with 11 nominations, followed by Magnolia Pictures with 10, National Geographic with eight and HBO and Hulu with seven each.

Additional nominations in the broadcast categories were previously announced.


The Cinema Eye Honors was founded in New York City in 2007. In its early years, it typically offered a different and more adventurous alternative to the nonfiction films nominated in the Best Documentary category at the Oscars. However, as the Academy’s documentary film department grew larger and more diverse, the two bodies agreed in most cases.

Last year, four of the five Oscar-nominated documentaries were nominated for the Cinema Eye Honors for the first time.

The nominees:

Excellent non-fiction contribution
— “20 days in Mariupol”
— “32 sounds”
– “The Eternal Memory”
– “Four Daughters”
— “Heading to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project”
— “Kokomo City”
– “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie”

Excellent direction
—Sam Green | 32 sounds
— Wim Wenders | Anselm
—Maite Alberdi | The eternal memory
—Kaouther Ben Hania | Four daughters
— D. Smith | Kokomo City
—Claire Simon | Our body

Excellent editing
—Michelle Mizner | 20 days in Mariupol
— Nels Bangerter | 32 sounds
—Carolina Siraqyan | The eternal memory
— Mikel Cee Karlsson, Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson | Fantastic
—Alain Gomis | Rewind and play
—Michael Harte | Still: A Michael J. Fox film

Excellent production
— Mstyslav Chernov, Michelle Mizner, Raney Aronson Rath and Derl McCrudden | 20 days in Mariupol
—Lauren Domino, Matthew Heineman and Joedan Okun | American Symphony
—Samuel Ekomol, Andrew H. Brown and Moses Thursnira | Between the rains
—Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen and Sue Mi Terry | Beyond utopia
—Christopher Sharp and John Battsek | Bobi Wine: The People’s President
—Margreth Olin | Songs of the Earth

Excellent camera work
—Franz Lustig | Anselm
—Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor | De Humani Corporis Fabrica
—Curren Sheldon | King coal
-D. Smith | Kokomo City
—Ants Tammik | Smoke Sauna Sisterhood
—Lars Erlend Tubaas Øymo | Songs of the Earth

Excellent original score
—JD Samson | 32 sounds
—Jon Batiste | American Symphony
—Leonard Küssner | Anselm
—Samora Pinderhughes and Chris Pattishall | On the way to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni
—Philip Glass and Paul Leonard-Morgan | The pigeon tunnel
—Rebekah Karijord | Songs of the Earth

Excellent sound design
—Mark Mangini | 32 sounds
–Adam Prescod, Greg Gettens and Will Chapman | The deepest breath
—Nicolas Becker | De Humani Corporis Fabrica
—Roni Pillischer | Kokomo City
—Huldar Freyr Arnarson and Edvard Egilsson | Smoke Sauna Sisterhood
—Arturo “Frosty” Salazar, María Alejandra Rojas and Alison O’Daniel | The tuba

Excellent visual design
—Melissa McClung | The Arc of Oblivion
—Thomas Curtis and Sean Pierce | On the way to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project
—Jason Carpenter and Holly Stone | The mission
—Hyung Cho and Helen Niu | Nam June Paik: Moon is the oldest TV
—Juan Carlos Concha Riveros, Carlos León Sancha and Marcello Quintanilha | They shot the piano player

Outstanding debut
—20 days in Mariupol | Director: Mstyslav Chernov
—Bobi Wine: The People’s President | Directed by Moses Bwayo and Christopher
—Kokomo City | Directed by D. Smith
—Orlando, my political biography | Director: Paul B. Preciado
—Smoke Sauna Sisterhood | Director: Anna Hints
—The Tuba Thieves | Director: Alison O’Daniel

Excellent non-fiction short film
—way | Director: Ruslan Fedotov
—Between Earth and Heaven | Director: Andrew Nadkami
—Black Girls Play: The History of Hand Games | Directed by: Joe Brewster and
Michele Stephenson
—Neighbor Abdi | Director: Douwe Dijkstra
—Oasis | Director: Justine Martin
—Will you look at me | Director: Shuli Huang

Audience Award
—20 days in Mariupol | Director: Mstyslav Chernov
—American Symphony | Directed by Matthew Heineman
—Beyond Utopia | Director: Madeleine Gavin
—Bobi Wine: The People’s President | Directed by Moses Bwayo and Christopher
—Confessions of a Good Samaritan | Directed by: Penny Lane
—The deepest breath | Director: Laura McGann
—The Eternal Memory | Director: Maite Alberdi
—Invisible Beauty | Directed by Bethann Hardison and Frédéric Tcheng
—Joan Baez I am a noise | Directed by Karen O’Connor, Miri Navasky and Maeve
—Smoke Sauna Sisterhood | Director: Anna Hints

– Against the Current | Directed by Sarvnik Kaur
—Anhell69 | Director: Theo Montoya
—Bad Press | Directed by Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler
—Cette Maison (This House) | Director: Miryam Charles
—Midwives | Directed by Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing
—Q | Director: Jude Chehab

—The Buriti Flower | Directed by João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora
—The Echo | Director: Tatiana Huezo
—Four Daughters | Director: Kaouther Ben Hania
—Past Lives | Directed by Celine Song
—Reality | Director: Tina Satter
—The Unknown Land | Director: Morrisa Maltz

coded bias

Brian Ashcraft

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