After taking a moment to explain the new Oscar rules, Michael Moore presented the top award for Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking to Steve James for The Interrupters. It was one of seven films that tied for the lead with four nominations. It had been up against Clio Barnard’s The Arbor, Patricio Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light, Leonard Retel Helmrich’ Position Among the Stars, James Marsh’s Project Nim and Asif Kapadia’s Senna for the top prize. James also picked up the award for Best Director.
Errol Morris' Tabloid picked up two awards to be the night's only other multiple winner. It won for Graphic Design and Animation and for Original Music Score.
The award for Best Production went to Gian-Piero Ringel and Wim Wenders for Pina. The winner of the second ever Heterodox Award was Mike Mills' Beginners.
The Audience Choice Award went to Buck, fending off the other nine candidates which included the box office hit Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
Previously announced awards were the 2012 Legacy Award presented by Steve James to the 1967 documentary Titicut Follies by Frederick Wiseman; and the inaugural Hell Yeah Prize (periodically given to filmmakers whose works of craft and artistry also have significant, real-world impact) was presented to Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky for their HBO Documentary Films trilogy Paradise Lost, which helped free the wrongly convicted "West Memphis Three."
Wiseman received a standing ovation, as did Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis Three who joined Berlinger and Sinofsky onstage to receive their award. Another ovation was given to Tim Hetherington's mother who accepted the posthumous award for his short film Diary.
Complete list of winners for the 5th Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking
Nonfiction Feature Filmmaking
The Interrupters, Steve James
Steve James, The Interrupters
Gian-Piero Ringel and Wim Wenders, Pina
Danfung Dennis, Hell and Back Again
Gregor Sall and Chris King, Senna
Graphic Design and Animation
Rob Feng and Jeremy Landman, Tabloid
Original Music Score
John Kusiak, Tabloid
Debut Feature Film
Clio Barnard, The Arbor
The Tiniest Place by Tatiana Huezo Sánchez
Audience Choice Prize
Buck by Cindy Meehl
Diary directed by Tim Hetherington (United Kingdom)
Beginners by Mike Mills
Hell Yeah Prize
Paradise Lost trilogy by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky
Titicut Follies by Frederick Wiseman