Vladimir Putin may prefer that people forget about imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, but the Cinema Eye Honors isn’t.
The awards show dedicated to the art and craft of documentary film today announced its 2023 Unforgettables list of the most memorable subjects of nonfiction films this year, and Navalny’s name was front and center. The story of the lawyer and anti-corruption crusader, who was almost killed in a Kremlin poisoning plot in 2020, is told in the award-winning film Navalny, directed by Daniel Roher.
Joining Navalny on the Unforgettables list is another political leader — Gabby Giffords, the former Congresswoman from Arizona who was severely injured in an assassination attempt in 2011. Her difficult road to recovery and return to activism is told in Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down, directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen.
Nan Goldin, the artist at the center of the Laura Poitras documentary All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, also made the list. The film, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, explores Goldin’s pioneering photographic work and her campaign to expose the harmful legacy of the Sackler Family, owners of OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma.
Irish singer Sinéad O’Connor, subject of Kathryn Ferguson’s Nothing Compares, was also chosen as an Unforgettable. The documentary examines how O’Connor’s criticism of the Catholic Church in Ireland in the early 1990s – she spoke out against the abuse of children by pedophile priests before any other public figure did – derailed her music career.
The protagonists of several top Oscar contenders also made the Unforgettables cut, including the Delhi brothers at the heart of All That Breathes, the late French couple and volcanologists of Fire of Love, iconoclastic filmmaker Robert Downey Sr., and director Reid Davenport, subject of his own film I Didn’t See You There [See the full list of Unforgettables below]
“Ten years ago, Cinema Eye was the first awards body to introduce an honor recognizing documentary subjects, their relationship with their filmmakers and their essential contributions to documentary film,” the organization noted in a statement. “This year, in recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Unforgettables list — as well as the centennial of Robert Flaherty’s Nanook of the North — Cinema Eye is introducing a year-plus thematic celebration that intends to further interrogate the prominence of documentary subjects.”
Along with the Unforgettables announcement, the group revealed its candidates for the Audience Choice Prize Long List, 16 films selected by the Cinema Eye Feature Film Nominations Committee for their “ability to engage, entertain, inspire, outrage, aggravate or otherwise connect with audiences.” Documentary fans around the world are invited to visit the Cinema Eye website to vote on the final 10 nominees in the category. Voting will close at 11:59 pm PT on November 1, 2022.
Cinema Eye will announce its full list of nominations, including the 10 films selected by global documentary lovers for the Audience Choice Prize, on Thursday, November 10. Audience Choice final voting will open in December. The 16th Annual Cinema Eye Awards Ceremony will take place Thursday, January 12, 2023 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens.
Below is the list of the 2023 Unforgettables, followed by the Audience Choice Prize Long List contenders:
Mohammad Saud and Nadeem Shehzad/All That Breathes
Nan Goldin/All the Beauty and the Bloodshed
Chun Siev/Bad Axe
Katia and Maurice Krafft/Fire of Love
Gabby Giffords/Gabby Giffords Won’t Back Down
Reid Davenport/I Didn’t See You There
Zarifa Ghafari/In Her Hands
Eli Timoner/Last Flight Home
Brandon Lee/My Old School
Sinead O’Connor/Nothing Compares
Robert Downey Sr./Sr.
Bitaté Uru Eu Wau Wau and Neidinha Bandeira/The Territory
The Audience Choice Prize Long List
All That Breathes/Directed by Shaunak Sen
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed/Directed by Laura Poitras
The Balcony Movie/Directed by Pawel Lozinski
Fire of Love/Directed by Sara Dosa
Good Night Oppy/Directed by Ryan White
Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song/Directed by Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine
In Her Hands/Directed by Tamana Ayazi and Marcel Mettelsiefen
Last Flight Home/Directed by Ondi Timoner
Louis Armstrong’s Black & Blues/Directed by Sacha Jenkins
Mija/Directed by Isabel Castro
Moonage Daydream/Directed by Brett Morgen
My Old School/Directed by Jono McLeod
Navalny/Directed by Daniel Roher
Nothing Compares/Directed by Kathryn Ferguson
Sr./Directed by Chris Smith
The Territory/Directed by Alex Pritz