The who’s who of the documentary world gathered at The Park Restaurant on Thursday for the 2nd Annual DOC NYC Visionaries Tribute Luncheon. Michael Moore, Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Brett Morgen and Joshua Oppenheimer were just a few of nonfiction’s elite filmmakers who paid tribute to honorees Jon Alpert, Barbara Kopple, Frederick Wiseman, Kim Longinotto and Tom Quinn.

The event also kicked off the launch of the 6th annual DOC NYC, the Gotham-based documentary film festival that has lined up a full slate of titles that include award race contenders including “Cartel Land,” “Amy” and “Where to Invade Next.”

While the event offered the community’s gatekeepers a chance to mingle at an open bar and eat a free meal, it also gave those helmers one last chance to schmooze with branch members before the Oscar Short List voting deadline on Nov. 20.

“He Named Me Malala” director Davis Guggenheim took the red eye from L.A. to attend the event. (“He Named Me Malala” is part of DOC NYC’s lineup.)

“All of these filmmakers who are here today probably started out making their films by themselves eating a s—-y lunch in the back of a station wagon with their crew and now they are in at this beautiful lunch,” said Guggenheim. “We start alone impoverished and we end up together at a beautiful lunch and then next week we will go back to
being impoverished.”

Before presenting Alpert with his kudo, president of HBO Documentary Films Sheila Nevins reminisced about working with the filmmaker for over 30 years. The topper also poked fun at Moore, who in 2012 was influential in crafting a set of Academy rules that made it clear that it was his intention to attract only truly theatrical docs and
discourage TV documentaries or “vanity” projects from being allowed in the race.

“John and I had two terrible fights. One was during the making of the film ‘Baghdad ER.’ It was a great film, but there was a point where one of the soldier’s legs was cut off and blood squirted out into the television almost through the glass,” Nevis said, before pausing. “I didn’t mean to say television, Michael. I’m sorry.” After the crowd
roared with laughter, Nevins continued. “Anyway, then half of the leg was thrown into a black garbage bag and I said, ‘John, we can’t show that. It’s too horrible.’”

To the delight of the guests, doc legend Wiseman kept his acceptance speech short and sweet.

“Making these movies is really fun,” the “Titicut Follies” helmer said. “It’s an adolescent’s dream come true. We get to ride around in police cars, tanks, and helicopters and hang out, so to speak, with models and ballet dancers. It’s really a great adventure.”

(Pictured: Tom Quinn, Barbara Kopple, Frederick Wiseman, Kim Longinotto and Jon Alpert)


HBO’s Sheila Nevins and Michael Moore
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Davis Guggenheim and Alex Gibney
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Asif Kapadia and Joshua Oppenheimer
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