Tom RostonIndependent journalist Tom Roston checks in and writes about the world of documentaries in his column, Doc Soup.

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Doc Soup: More From Sundance, and the Cinema Eye Honors

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I’m writing this post while waiting on line for Morgan Spurlock‘s latest doc, the much anticipated Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? (Sample chatter from other people waiting in the queue: “I love Morgan.” “Me too, but I was still thinking of going to eat at McDonald’s before this.”) Things have been busy here in Park City! I’ve been meaning to write about the past 36 hours of happenings, but they’re piling up like a ten-foot snowdrift.

Here’s a quick taste: I saw Anvil: The Story of Anvil by Sacha Gervasi, an incredibly funny and actually very deep documentary about the eponymous heavy metal band from Canada. It plays like This is Spinal Tap — but for real. I also saw Ellen Kuras‘s Neerakhoon (The Betrayal), about a Laotian family that emigrated to the U.S. Kuras’ film is epic — the imagery and pacing reminded me of the work of Terrence Malick. (See pics from the premiere of Nerakhoon on Monday.) I also sent two emissaries to watch Flow: For the Love of Water by Irena Salima and asked them to report back to me. They said the film was a searing dissection of the business of water, and then they made me feel really bad about the bottle of water I was clutching in my hands.

And then there was Sunday’s announcement of the new doc awards that we’ve already discussed here at Doc Soup. The nominees for the Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking were announced on Main Street at a Wall Street Journal-sponsored event where folks munched on thin crust pizza and downed mojitos (a surprisingly good combination). Doc blogger/filmmaker AJ Schnack MC-ed the event, jazzing up the proceedings in his sporty buttoned-up blazer. The crowd — a healthy mix of sales agents, publicists, distributor reps, filmmakers and other members of the doc community — listened politely, occasionally nodding their approval. The nominees for the top award are: Into Great Silence, Lake of Fire, Manda Bala, The Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun, and No End in Sight.

“It’s so serious,” commented Margaret Brown, director of The Order of Myths, who was also on stage with Shnack to present the nominees. It’s true, the crowd was a bit sober during the announcements — but things loosened up afterwards. There was general goodwill among doc folk about the awards, and I spoke with Schnack, who was spinning over how an idea he had brought up just two months ago could now be so far along. The winners will be announced at New York’s IFC Center on March 18th. (See the full list of nominees.) All I can say is that I hope that this celebration of craft will be fêting Kuras’ Nerakhoon next year. I’ll also wager the film is a favorite to win the Audience Award here at Sundance this year.

Tom Roston
Tom Roston
Tom Roston is a guest columnist for POV's documentary blog. He comes to us as a ten-year veteran of Premiere magazine, where he was a Senior Editor, and where he wrote the column, Notes from the Dream Factory. Tom was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from Brown University and started his career in journalism at The Nation and then Vanity Fair. Tom has also written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, GQ, New York, Elle and other publications. Tom's favorite documentaries are: 1. Koyanisqaatsi - Godfrey Reggio 2. Hoop Dreams - Steve James 3. The Up series - Michael Apted 4. Crumb - Terry Zwigoff 5. Capturing the Friedmans - Andrew Jarecki