Well, it’s not every award where you’ll find James Franco’s oddball S&M diversion “Interior. Leather Bar.” nominated alongside Mexican auteur Carlos Reygadas’ wildly experimental Cannes winner “Post Tenebras Lux.” To be more precise, it’s not any award but this one. The Cinema Eye Honors for documentary filmmaking — onre of the biggest precursors on the non-fiction circuit — announced their slate of nominees a couple of weeks ago, with “The Act of Killing” and “Cutie and the Boxer” leading the pack, but they added five nominees for their Heterodox Award yesterday.
The prize is rather a unique one, honouring narrative films that nonetheless “imaginatively incorporate non-fiction strategies, content and/or modes of production.” At a time when an increasing amount of hybrid works blur the lines between narrative and documentary, it’s nice to have at least one award that acknowledges that reality. Introduced by Cinema Eye three years ago, it has since been won by Matt Porterfield’s “Putty Hill,” Mike Mills’ “Beginners” (which, of course, won Christopher Plummer an Oscar) and Jem Cohen’s “Museum Hours.”
Looking at this year’s nominees, two films could break the award’s run of US indies. The aforementioned “Post Tenebras Lux” is something of an expressionistically autobiographical work for Reygadas, made with his usual preference for non-pro actors — including his own family. Brazilian debut director Kleber Mendonca Filho’s “Neighboring Sounds” is more classifiably a narrative piece, but it’s exploration of suburban community is rooted in documentary tradition; Filho filmed it in his own apartment block, for starters. It’s a remarkable film, and Brazil’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar — it wouldn’t surprise me to see the executive committee single it out.
Besides “Interior. Leather Bar.,” Franco’s and Travis Matthews’ playful but aimless riff on excised footage from William Friedkin’s infamous “Cruising,” the American nominees are Andrew Bujalski’s lo-fi mockumentary “Computer Chess” and Randy Moore’s daring black comedy “Escape from Tomorrow,” which was stealthily shot in secret at Disney theme parks, breaking any number of rules in the process. All three films premiered at Sundance this year.
This year’s Cinema Eye Honors will be presented in New York on December 8. To recap, the Heterodox nominees are:
Andrew Bujalski, “Computer Chess”
Randy Moore, “Escape From Tomorrow”
James Franco and Travis Matthews, “Interior. Leather Bar.”
Kleber Mendonca Filho, “Neighboring Sounds”
Carlos Reygadas, “Post Tenebras Lux”