Chicken & Egg Pictures Announces Multi-Year Grant from the MacArthur Foundation

Born into an impoverished coal-producing area of eastern Pennsylvania, by the time of his death, John MacArthur was one of the wealthiest men in the world, having made his fortune in insurance and real estate. He, along with his wife, started the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in order to secure enduring support for “creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.” The MacArthur family’s philosophy of giving is inspirational and its profound effects can be seen throughout the world we live in: universities we’ve attended, arts institutions we patronize, public radio stations we depend on for our morning commute, human rights and social justice organizations we count on to confront the most pressing issues of our times, as well as the world renowned MacArthur Fellowship.

Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to announce that we are now officially part of the MacArthur Foundation legacy.

With a grant of $600,000 to be disbursed over three years, the Foundation’s support will go towards bolstering three of our signature programs: the Accelerator Lab for first- and second-time filmmakers, Diversity Fellows Initiative, and the Impact & Innovation Initiative. We are so thrilled to be included among such a prestigious group of organizations, and to help carry on the MacArthurs’ mission to build a more just world.

Read more about our partnership with The MacArthur Foundation here.

Chicken & Egg Pictures announces the five recipients of the second annual Breakthrough Filmmaker Award

Breakthrough_YW_LM_Sundance_2017We are pleased and proud to announce  the recipients of the second year of the Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. The five chosen filmmakers are Geeta Gandbhir (Prison Dogs), Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson), Penny Lane (NUTS!), Grace Lee (American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs), and Dawn Porter (Trapped). This award consists of a $50,000 unrestricted grant and a year-long creative support and mentorship program tailored to each filmmaker’s individual goals.

The Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award responds to the reality that only a few women non-fiction directors in the U.S. are able to work full-time as independent storytellers. The program recognizes and elevates five experienced women directors with unique voices who are poised to reach new heights and to continue to be strong filmmaker-advocates for urgent issues and creative visions.

“After a successful inaugural year, we welcome this new cohort of talented women into the program,” said Jenni Wolfson, Executive Director of Chicken & Egg Pictures . “Through our investment in these filmmakers, Chicken & Egg Pictures affirms its commitment to supporting women from a diversity of backgrounds, with powerful voices, who are driving change through storytelling. They are creative risk-takers who have made their mark and are ready to push the boundaries even further and continue to bring to the forefront critical issues and stories.”

Recipients of the Chicken & Egg Pictures 2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award were chosen through an international, confidential nomination process.

For additional information on Chicken & Egg Pictures and the Breakthrough Filmmaker Award please visit our Program page.

2017 BREAKTHROUGH FILMMAKER AWARD RECIPIENTS

Geeta Gandbhir

Geeta began her career in editing. As an editor, she has won two Emmy® Awards. Her latest feature documentary, Prison Dogs, which she co -directed with Perri Peltz, premiered at the 2016Tribeca Film Festival. Her film with Sharmeen Obaid -Chinoy, A Journey of A Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival; won the Jury award for Best Documentary at The Bentonville Film Festival; and won the Humanitarian Award at the River Run Film Festival. She co-created and was a director on a series about race for The New York Times Op-Docs entitled The Conversation, which won an Online Journalism Award. Her film with Ms. Peltz, Remembering the Artist, Robert De Niro, Sr., for HBO, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. She is currently finishing a feature documentary on a bomb disposal unit in Pakistan.

Kirsten Johnson

Drawing on footage she shot for a myriad of documentary directors over the last 25 years, Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival; won the Cinema Eye Awards for Best Documentary, Best Editing, Best Cinematography; and the National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award. Widely reviewed as one of the top films of 2016, it received awards at nine international festivals, was nominated for the Gotham Independent Film Awards, the IDA Documentary Awards, the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards , the Independent Spirit Awards, and is currently shortlisted for an Academy Award®. Johnson’s short film, The Above, was nominated for 2016 Best Short Film Award by the IDA. Her interest in image-making, collaboration with documentary filmmakers, and the ethical dilemmas faced by camerapeople around the world is ongoing.

Penny Lane

Penny Lane’s most recent feature, NUTS!, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival where it won a Special Jury Prize for Editing. Her debut feature documentary, Our Nixon, premiered at the 2013 Rotterdam International Film Festival, had its North American premiere at SXSW, won the Ken Burns Award for Best of the Festival at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and was selected as the closing night film at New Directors/New Films. Lane was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2012 and “Most Badass” at the Iowa City Documentary Film Festival in 2009. Film festival screenings span the independent and experimental film worlds, including Sundance, Rotterdam, Images, IMPAKT, Hot Docs, Full Frame, CPH:DOX, and Oberhausen. She is currently a professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Colgate University.

Grace Lee

Grace Lee is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker whose work explores questions of history, race, politics, and community. She directed American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, which won six festival audience awards and aired on the POV documentary series. Other directing credits include The Grace Lee Project, Janeane From Des Moines, the Emmy®-nominated Makers: Women and Politics, and Off the Menu: Asian America. Lee’s work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Center for Asian American Media, Film Independent, and the Sundance Institute, where she was a Women at Sundance Fellow. She recently co-founded the Asian American Documentary Network and is currently in production on Ktown92, an interactive documentary that explores the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots through the eyes of the greater Koreatown community.

Dawn Porter

Dawn Porter is a documentary filmmaker whose first feature, Gideon’s Army, won the Sundance Film Festival Editing Award in 2013 and later broadcast on HBO. The film was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy. Dawn’s other films have appeared on PBS, OWN and the Discovery Channel. In 2015, Porter interviewed President Barack Obama for Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper. Dawn’s latest feature project, Trapped, explores the impact of laws regulating abortion clinics in the South. Trapped premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking. In 2016, Porter was named to Variety’s “10 Documakers to Watch” and received the Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence at DOC NYC’s Visionaries Tribute. She also recently created a short film for The New Yorker Presents, a digital series executive produced by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney.

Nine Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees recognized with Sundance Documentary Fund grants

Nine Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees have been recognized with grants through the Sundance Documentary Fund. On Monday, October 31, the Sundance Institute announced the awarding of over $1 million in grants through this program.

Chicken & Egg Pictures congratulates our grantees, and looks forward to celebrating their continued success.

Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees awarded Sundance Production Grants: 

Even When I Fall
Directed by Kate McLarnon & Sky Neal
Even When I Fall is the story of three remarkable young Nepali women, all survivors of human trafficking into corrupt big top circuses across India. Facing forgotten families and uncertain futures, the story begins in the often-overlooked aftermath of a childhood spent in captivity and forced labor. But these tough young women were inadvertently left with a secret weapon by their captors – their breathtaking skills as circus artists.

Even When I Fall
Even When I Fall

Obstinate
Directed by Sahra Mosawi
In Afghanistan where systematic abuses of girls rarely come to light, and seeking justice can be deadly, one young woman says “Enough.” Her name is Khatera and this is her incredible story of love, hope, bravery, forgiveness and truth. It is also one of horrific abuse. Khatera was brutally raped by her father since the age of nine. Today she is twenty-three and raising two precious and precocious children—a daughter and a son—whom he sired.

Obstinate
Obstinate

Survivors
Directed by Arthur Pratt, Anna Fitch, Banker White, and Barmmy Boy
Through the eyes of Sierra Leonean filmmakers, Survivors presents a portrait of their country during the Ebola outbreak, exposing the complexity of the epidemic and the socio-political turmoil that lies in its wake. The film chronicles the remarkable stories of Sierra Leonean heroes during what is now widely regarded as the most acute public health crisis of the modern era.

Survivors
Survivors

Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees awarded Sundance Post-Production Grants:

32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide
Directed by Hope Litoff
A reflection on the life and suicide of Ruth Litoff, a successful artist, a pathological liar, and the filmmaker’s sister. By looking back on Ruth’s incredible highs and lows, bursts of creative genius, depression, secrets, and lies, a vivid portrait will emerge of the brilliant woman the filmmaker is not sure she ever really knew. This is her attempt to understand what happened.

32 Pills: My Sister's Suicide
32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide

Fly Away
Directed by Lucy Cohen
Fly Away is a film about memory, identity, and growing up told through the eyes of seven siblings and their mother. Five of the children are on the autistic spectrum and as they move through adolescence, an event of the past keeps drawing them back. Combining observational footage with a rich archive of home movies and songs, the film is both a detective story and coming-of-age tale, exploring universal themes of memory, family, and love.

Fly Away
Fly Away

Mudflow
Directed by Cynthia Wade & Sasha Friedlander
Mudflow is the story of a huge, toxic mudflow in Indonesia widely believed to be caused by shoddy drilling practices. The mud volcano has been erupting violently for the past eight years, burying 17 villages and permanently displacing 60,000 people. Mudflow follows ordinary Indonesians seeking justice for this disaster during a national election where one presidential candidate has promised restitution and the other has not.

Mudflow
Mudflow

United Skates
Directed by Dyana Winkler & Tina Brown
United Skates follows an underground subculture growing inside our country’s last standing roller rinks. Fusing hip-hop with the speed of old school quad roller skates, this film shines a fresh light on the recurring pattern of racial struggle faced by African American artists, as it follows the next artistic movement still undiscovered by the American mainstream.

United Skates
United Skates

Whose Streets?
Directed by Sabaah Jordan & Damon Davis

A first-hand look at how the murder of one teenage boy became the last straw for a community under siege. Whose Streets? is a story of love, loss, conflict, and ambition; the journey of everyday people turned freedom fighters, whose lives intertwined with a burgeoning national movement for black liberation. This is a film for all of America – it provides insight into the unseen reality of racism, the role of media in conflict, state-sanctioned violence, and militarized policing – but at its core it is Ferguson’s story, it is our cry of “enough is enough”.

Whose Streets?
Whose Streets?

Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees chosen for the Art of Nonfiction Fellowship:

Kirsten Johnson
Kirsten Johnson works as a director and a cinematographer. Her most recent work as a cinematographer appears in Citizenfour, Born to Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs Gravity, and The Wound and the Gift. Her work was featured in Academy Award®-nominated The Invisible War. She shared the 2010 Sundance Documentary Competition Cinematography Award with Laura Poitras for The Oath. She shot the Tribeca Film Festival 2008 Documentary winner, Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Her cinematography is featured in Farenheit 9/11, Academy Award®-nominated Asylum, Emmy®-winning Ladies First, and Sundance premiere documentaries, A Place at the Table, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, American Standoff, and Derrida. Deadline, (co-directed with Katy Chevigny), premiered at Sundance in 2004, was broadcast on primetime NBC, and won the Thurgood Marshall Award.

Kirsten received the Chicken & Egg Pictures Celebration Award, supported by the Ravenal Foundation, in 2014.

Kirsten Johnson
Kirsten Johnson

Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees chosen for the inaugural Bertha Foundation Fellowship:

Obstinate
Directed by Sahra Mosawi

Submissions for the 2017 Accelerator Lab will open on October 11, 2016

Chicken & Egg Pictures will begin accepting submissions for the Accelerator Lab for first and second-time filmmakers on Monday, October 11. There is one deadline for the 2016 Open Call: Wednesday, November 9, 2016, 5:00 PM EST. The application fee is $35.

Our inaugural Accelerator Lab cohort attending the 2016 Sheffield Doc/Fest for their second creative retreat
Our inaugural Accelerator Lab cohort attending the 2016 Sheffield Doc/Fest for their second creative retreat

The Accelerator Lab is focused on identifying and supporting women non-fiction directors who are first and second-time filmmakers. This program brings together ten projects helmed by first or second-time directors, with a special focus on underrepresented voices.

Each participant will receive a two-part grant for the production of a film, to be developed over the course of a 12-month program. All ten participants will come together at various points over the course of a year for an intensive period of mentorship and workshops with industry experts, creatively fusing the art and craft of filmmaking with best practices and peer-to-peer support.

Accelerator Lab grantee Kathy Huang (A Guangzhou Love Sotry) in action (photo by Eric Jenkins-Sahlin)
Accelerator Lab grantee Kathy Huang (A Guangzhou Love Sotry) in action (photo by Eric Jenkins-Sahlin)

To read more about the program and the application guidelines and criteria, as well as our Frequently Asked Questions, visit our Programs page. The 2016 application questions are available for download as a Word document here.

Chicken & Egg Pictures announces five recipients of inaugural Breakthrough Award

We are pleased and proud to announce the recipients of our inaugural Breakthrough Filmmaker Awards. The five chosen filmmakers are Kristi Jacobson (A Place at the Table) Julia Reichert (The Last Truck), Yoruba Richen (The New Black), Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Hollow), and Michèle Stephenson (American Promise). This award consists of a $50,000 unrestricted grant and a year-long mentorship program tailored to each filmmaker’s individual goals.

The Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award responds to the reality that only a few women nonfiction directors in the U.S. are able to work full-time as independent storytellers. The program recognizes and elevates five mid-career women directors with unique voices who are poised to reach new heights and to continue to be strong filmmaker-advocates for urgent issues.

“Chicken & Egg Pictures continues to make bold investments in both women artists and gender equality to ensure that a greater diversity of voices are acknowledged for their participation in the storytelling that drives change,” said Jenni Wolfson, Executive Director of Chicken & Egg Pictures. “Our hope with this new award is to provide support and a platform for these artists to continue showcasing and elevating critical social justice, environmental, and human rights issues and stories while working to increase their visibility and ensure they receive the recognition they deserve.”

Recipients of the Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award were chosen through a nation-wide confidential nomination process.

2016 BREAKTHROUGH FILMMAKER AWARD RECIPIENTS

 Kristi Jacobson
Kristi Jacobson is a New York-based filmmaker whose films capture nuanced, intimate, and provocative portrayals of individuals and communities. Her most recent film, A Place at the Table (Participant Media/Magnolia Pictures), called “one of the most important…and gripping non-fiction films to debut in some time” by Indiewire, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival before its theatrical release in over 35 U.S. cities. Previous films include the critically acclaimed Toots, winner of the National Board of Review’s 2007 Top Documentary Award, and American Standoff (HBO), produced by two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple. Jacobson is a member of the Director’s Guild of America, NYWIFT, and a two-time Sundance Creative Producing Fellow. She is a recipient of grants from Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Institute DFP, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and many others. She is currently working on an upcoming HBO documentary that provides an immersive and unprecedented look inside the world of solitary confinement in the U.S.

Julia Reichert
Julia Reichert is a three-time Academy Award® nominee for her documentary work. She lives in Ohio, and has chosen to focus on class, gender, and race in the lives of Americans.  Julia’s first film, Growing Up Female, was the first feature documentary of the modern Women’s Movement.  It was recently selected for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.  Her films Union Maids and Seeing Red were nominated for Academy Awards® for Best Feature Documentary, as was The Last Truck, a short (co-directed with Steven Bognar) which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and on HBO.  Her film A Lion in the House (an ITVS co-production, made with Bognar) premiered at Sundance, screened nationally on PBS, and won the Primetime Emmy® for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking.  She co-wrote and directed the feature film Emma and Elvis.  Julia is co-founder of New Day Films, the independent film distribution co-op.  She is author of “Doing It Yourself,” the first book on self-distribution in independent film, and was an Advisory Board member of IFP. Reichert is currently directing a film about the 9 to 5 movement, telling the stories of the millions of low wage, invisible women who populated the clerical pool, served coffee, and suffered sexual harassment before it was named.  In the 1970’s they gathered their courage and rose up against their bosses, large corporations, and institutions.  She’s also begun filming a verite follow-up to The Last Truck, chronicling the arrival of a new plant in her economically devastated Midwestern city.

Yoruba Richen
Yoruba Richen is a documentary filmmaker whose work explores issues of race, space, and power. She has directed films in the U.S. and abroad, including The New Black and Promised LandThe New Black won Audience Awards at AFI Docs, Philly Q Fest, and Frameline LGBT Film Festival. The film also won best documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a GLAAD Media Award.  The New Black opened theatrically at New York’s Film Forum and aired on PBS’s Independent Lens. Yoruba has received numerous grants including from Sundance Documentary Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and the Ford Foundation. She won the Creative Promise Award at Tribeca All Access and was also a Sundance Producers Fellow. Yoruba is a featured TED Speaker and a Guggenheim Fellow. She is director of the documentary program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Yoruba is currently working on How It Feels To Be Free, a two-part documentary chronicling how black entertainers like Lena Horne and Cicely Tyson navigated the industry and took control of their own images, all while fighting for civil rights through their art and actions.

Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Elaine McMillion Sheldon is a documentary filmmaker and media artist who explores themes of identity, roots, and change. She’s the director of Hollow, the Emmy®-nominated and Peabody-winning interactive documentary that explores life in the Appalachian coalfields. She’s also the co-producer of The Lower 9, a feature-length documentary about The Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Sheldon’s film and interactive work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, from the New York Film Festival to IDFA. Sheldon was a 2013 Future of Storytelling Fellow, and named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2013 by Filmmaker Magazine and one of “50 People Changing The South” in 2015 by Southern Living Magazine. She works across platforms and mediums—film, photo, audio, interactive media—to create storytelling experiences. Sheldon is currently working on several projects that employ the storytelling skills she has developed for multiple mediums, including short and feature filmmaking, longform and interactive journalism, participatory media, virtual reality, and audio storytelling. Two of the film-based projects include a feature-length documentary about home, identity, and roots of Latino families living in Appalachia, and a short-film collaboration with the New York Times Op-Docs centered on the election year in rural America.

Michèle Stephenson
Michèle Stephenson pulls from her Caribbean roots and international experience as a human rights attorney to tell compelling personal stories that resonate beyond the margins. Her work has appeared on a variety of broadcast and web platforms, including PBS, Showtime, and MTV. Her most recent film, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys® including Best Documentary. The film won the Jury Prize at Sundance and was selected for the New York Film Festival’s Main Slate. Stephenson’s community engagement work has won numerous awards including the BRITDOC Puma Impact Award and a Revere Award nomination from the American Publishers Association. Other films directed by Stephenson include Slaying Goliath and Faces of Change. Her recent book, “Promises Kept,” written with co-authors Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, won an NAACP Image Award. Stephenson is currently working on Hispaniola, a documentary chronicling the lives of families affected by the TC-186 Dominican Republic Supreme Court ruling that strips citizenship from individuals of Haitian descent who were born in the country. She’s also part of the filmmaking team behind Conversations On Race, a New York Times Op-Docs series of short films that uses powerful personal narratives to elevate shared experiences of race and equality.

Chicken & Egg Pictures announces support of LAST CALL and SURVIVORS

Two projects have been awarded Chicken & Egg Pictures production grants: Last Call, directed by Lana Wilson, and Survivors, directed by Anna Fitch, Arthur Pratt, and Banker White.

Last Call, directed by Lana Wilson
Last Call, directed by Lana Wilson

Lana Wilson’s last film, After Tiller, was also supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures and was part of our Reel Reproductive Justice cohort, a group of films exploring reproductive justice from various angles.

LAST CALL
Director: Lana Wilson
A remarkable Japanese Buddhist priest uses a range of unorthodox methods to help desperate men and women re-discover the will to live. But when a health crisis puts him at serious risk, can he live by the same advice he gives out?

SURVIVORS
Directors: Anna Fitch, Arthur Pratt, and Banker White
Through the eyes of Sierra Leonean filmmakers, Survivors presents a portrait of their country during the Ebola outbreak, exposing the complexity of the epidemic and the socio-political turmoil that lies in its wake. The film chronicles the remarkable stories of Sierra Leonean heroes during what is now widely regarded as the most acute public health crisis of the modern era.

Chicken & Egg Pictures announces support of criminal justice projects

Chicken & Egg Pictures was pleased to announce today our support of two additional projects focusing on criminal justice in the United States, joining a cohort of films currently supported by the organization that address the issue. 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement and College Behind Bars will both receive grants from the organization.

The Guardian’s 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement (Francesca Panetta and Lindsay Poulton) is the first virtual reality project supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures. It is being funded through the organization’s new Impact & Innovation Initiative, which empowers women filmmakers to explore the new world of immersive and digital storytelling through online and interactive shorts, web series, and other cross-platform projects aimed at creating social impact.

College Behind Bars, directed by Lynn Novick, looks at a group of incarcerated men and women who are taking advantage of the Bard Prison Initiative to pursue a college degree while serving their sentences.

Chicken & Egg Pictures recognizes the magnitude of the criminal justice and mass incarceration crisis in the United States, and over its ten years has supported numerous films that address the issue from multiple perspectives.

6X9 and College Behind Bars join five current projects supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures that focus on various aspects of criminal justice, both in the United States and around the world. These projects include Cocaine Prison (Violeta Ayala), The Return (Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway), Out of Mind (Kristi Jacobson), Sons And Daughters Of The Incarcerated (Denali Tiller), and Southwest Of Salem (Deborah S. Esquenazi).

“We’re very proud to be putting our support behind these projects that tackle one of the most pressing issues in the United States today,” said Chicken & Egg Pictures Executive Director Jenni Wolfson. “Even though the U.S. represents just 5% of the world’s population, we are responsible for 25% of inmates around the globe. Chicken & Egg Pictures believes firmly in the power of film to expose the systematic injustices surrounding mass incarceration, inhumane conditions, and miscarriages of justice. These storytellers address this matter with humanity, innovation, and purpose, ensuring that it stays at the top of our national conscience and contributes towards lasting change.”

Chicken & Egg Pictures announces grantees for inaugural Accelerator Lab

Chicken & Egg Pictures announced today the selected participants of the inaugural Accelerator Lab. The Accelerator Lab brings together 10 non-fiction projects helmed by first and second-time women filmmakers as part of a brand new program with the goal of providing the necessary tools and environment for talented filmmakers to tell their stories. The Accelerator Lab is focused on identifying a diverse group of first and second-time women non-fiction filmmakers and supporting their continued success through various means and initiatives.

These include providing financial assistance by way of grants, as well as creative guidance and support through mentorship workshops, industry connections, and peer support. Participants will receive a two-part grant for the production of their film, which they will develop over the course of the 12-18 month program.

“These filmmakers and projects represent a microcosm of the over 200 filmmakers whom Chicken & Egg Pictures has supported over the last ten years. Our goal is to nurture their talent by providing them with a yearlong creative lab program, a grant of up to $35,000, and a community of women filmmakers who can support and learn from one another,” said Jenni Wolfson, Executive Director of Chicken & Egg Pictures. “We selected these women filmmakers because we believe not only that they are going to make artful and compelling films, but because we believe that these stories must be told and will contribute to changing how we see and respond to the world around us.”

2015 ACCELERATOR LAB PARTICIPANTS:

 A GUANGZHOU LOVE STORY
Director: Kathy Huang
In China, an unprecedented surge in African migration has led to a rise in marriages between Chinese women and African men. A Guangzhou Love Story captures the love, heartache, and real life challenges of Afro-Chinese couples attempting to forge a meaningful future together in the face of racism and xenophobia.

A Guangzhou Love Story, directed by Kathy Huang
A Guangzhou Love Story, directed by Kathy Huang

BY A THREAD
Director: Rina Castelnuovo & Tamir Elterman
By A Thread tells the story of Muhammad (Muhi), a Palestinian child from Gaza and the son of a Hamas activist wanted by Israel. As a newborn, Muhi is transferred to Israel for treatment of a life-threatening condition. Months turn into years and Muhi, now six, has lived his whole life in the Israeli hospital, confined for security reasons to its premises with his grandfather. The film explores Muhi’s contradictory world in which he is treated, raised, and saved by his people’s enemy, while his parents remain in Gaza.

By A Thread is an inside look at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’s inescapable presence in everyday life and how it shapes those like Muhi who are unwillingly drawn into it.

CUENCA
Director: Isabel Alcántara
San Miguel de Allende is neatly perched at the draining edge of the aptly named “Cuenca de la Independencia (Watershed of Independence).” While it used to be a town overflowing in natural springs, long-term abuse has left its glorious aquifer practically bone-dry. Tourists flood into the city daily as the native communities that surround it evaporate from Mexico’s collective consciousness, their legacy lost forever. Cuenca carefully weaves together the personal journeys of a diverse cast of characters who are riding a wave of civil unrest to create a coalition of resistance against unbridled government corruption that places profits ahead of its people. Driven by the necessity to preserve the richness of the culture as well as that of the region’s ecosystems, Cuenca focuses on the issue at hand and illustrates the steep cost of doing nothing.

Cuenca, directed by Isabel Alcantara
Cuenca, directed by Isabel Alcantara

FLY AWAY
Director: LC Cohen
Fly Away is a film about memory, identity, and growing up told through the eyes of seven siblings and their mother. Five of the children are on the autistic spectrum and as they move through adolescence, an event of the past keeps drawing them back. Combining observational footage with a rich archive of home movies and songs, the film is both a detective story and coming-of-age tale, exploring universal themes of memory, family, and love.

LAWYERS
Director: Hikaru Toda
A story of love, family, and rights, Lawyers is a snapshot of Japan in transition. Fumi and Kazu are life partners, both professionally and privately: they run the first and only law firm in Japan run by an openly gay couple. From activists to artists to vulnerable young people, we see a cross section of Japanese society pass through Kazu and Fumi’s office – their clients and their cases reveal Japan’s changing social landscape and the diversity too often overlooked in its homogenous society. Lawyers also follows Kazu and Fumi’s quest to raise a family. Faced with a legal system that doesn’t allow adoption by same sex couples and having seen firsthand the realities of institutionalized youths, they have begun the process of registering as foster parents.

ROLL RED ROLL
Director: Nancy Schwartzman
The story of a football town divided, Roll Red Roll is a true crime thriller examining sexual assault in small town America.

RULES TO LIVE BY
Director: Hope Litoff
A reflection on the life and suicide of Ruth Litoff, a successful artist, a pathological liar, and the filmmaker’s sister. By looking back on Ruth’s incredible highs and lows, bursts of creative genius, depression, secrets, and lies, a vivid portrait will emerge of the brilliant woman the filmmaker is not sure she ever really knew. This is her attempt to understand what happened.

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF THE INCARCERATED
Director: Denali Tiller
Growing up is full of challenges, but for Tre, Maison, and Giana those challenges reach beyond friends, school, and middle school crushes. Sons and Daughters of the Incarcerated tells the story of three children whose fathers are in prison, and a formerly incarcerated mother who is now working to stop the cycle. How do the stigmas of incarceration shape their identities as they struggle to find their places in their communities and the world? What will it take to break the cycle of violence, crime, and imprisonment that pulls so hard on these kids’ lives and millions more like them?

THE FEELING OF BEING WATCHED
Director: Assia Boundaoui & Alex Bushe
The Feeling of Being Watched is the first documentary film to tell the story of the War on Terror from the perspective inside an Arab-American neighborhood. Since the early 90’s, people in Bridgeview, IL have stayed quiet about their deep suspicions of living under government surveillance, and no one has ever dug into why the surveillance may have begun. Until now. This film brings to light an under-represented human story and follows the filmmakers as they investigate what really happened, and may still be happening, in Bridgeview.

WHOSE STREETS?
Director: Sabaah Jordan & Damon Davis
A first-hand look at how the murder of one teenage boy became the last straw for a community under siege. Whose Streets? is a story of love, loss, conflict, and ambition; the journey of everyday people turned freedom fighters, whose lives intertwined with a burgeoning national movement for black liberation. This is a film for all of America – it provides insight into the unseen reality of racism, the role of media in conflict, state-sanctioned violence, and militarized policing – but at its core it is Ferguson’s story, it is our cry of “enough is enough.”

Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Jordan and Damon Davis
Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Jordan and Damon Davis

Program Manager Iyabo Boyd shares some last-minute tips for our 2015 Accelerator Lab Open Call

The deadline for the 2015 Accelerator Lab Open Call is fast approaching. Applications are due this Wednesday, June 10, 2015, by 5:00 PM EDT. 

If you’re only just getting started on your application, don’t worry – we’ve compiled the below tips to help you get up to speed fast:

Overview: For those of you that want a full breakdown of this whole process, please review our Grants page and Frequently Asked Questions, both of which provide very helpful and thorough information. If you still have questions, please email info@chickeneggpics.org with your project title in the subject line.

Funding and mentorship: This Open Call for funding is the process that determines which films will be selected for our 2015 Accelerator Lab. If you are selected to receive a grant, you will also participate in the lab, which is a year long intensive mentorship program (with possibility for extension). It is not a goal of the lab for the films to be completed in that year; that is the length of time you’ll spend with us receiving mentorship. The lab will be structured around 3 to 4 retreats that the granted directors are required to attend, with travel support from us. The lab will be more intensive and tailored than our past mentorship programs, but if you want some insight on our mentorship style in general, take a look at our mentorship page or our blog.

First- or second- time filmmakers: When we say first- or second- time filmmaker, we’re talking specifically about your experience as a director or co-director of feature-length documentaries. You are still eligible if you’ve already made a few shorts, or done fiction work, we’re looking for directors who are making their first or second feature-length documentary. By feature length, we mean 40 minutes or more. Read more about this in our Frequently Asked Questions.

Early production: For this round, we’re only accepting projects between development and early-production (with no more than 40% of the footage shot) because we want to ensure that we have the greatest opportunity possible to make an impact on the film and on your development as the director. If you’re having trouble figuring out what percentage you’ve shot, think about the big picture of your finished film, where you are now, and what you need to do to get to that finished project. What do you have in the can, and how much more shooting do you think you have left to do? That’s how you’ll assess if you’ve reached the 40%. We’re not keeping count, but we hope you’ll respect the guidelines and be honest with yourself when considering applying.

Work samples: In a nutshell, the short work sample should grab our attention and show the project’s potential; the long work sample should give us a deeper sense of your directorial style, characters, and pacing of the film; and the prior work sample should tell us about your experience and your ability to follow through. The short and long samples should consist of pieces of the project with which you’re currently applying, whereas the prior work sample is from a different film you’ve worked on in the past.

No footage shot yet: We have a strict requirement of at least 7 minutes of footage for applicants. If you can, shoot something quickly before the deadline or maybe ask your subjects to shoot some verite or interview of themselves for you, but only if you think it will be good enough to represent your project in our review process. We do not accept unsolicited updates, so the application is the only opportunity for you to show us what you have. If it doesn’t seem you can get it all together before the deadline, it might not be the right time for you to apply for this round.

Parting shots: Here are a few last items to keep in mind:

    • For this round we are not accepting interactive projects or series. Stay tuned for announcements on an upcoming program geared toward these formats in 2016. Join our mailing list, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
    • If you’re unsure what makes a documentary a hybrid, check out this great article from the POV blog. Please also note that just because your film is based on a true story, that doesn’t mean it’s automatically a hybrid.
    • For guidance on the written application, be sure to look at the help text on the right side of each question. Please also note that the word count for many of the essay based questions is 2300 characters, including spaces. Trust us, brief is better.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, send an email to info@chickeneggpics.org. Be sure to include the name of your project in the subject line.

Chicken & Egg Pictures announces 2014 Open Call grantees and names Celebration Award recipient

Chicken & Egg Pictures announced 14 films that will receive grants and mentorship as a result of the organization’s 2014 Open Call, as well as two sets of grants to projects in stages that range from production to completion.  Chicken & Egg Pictures also named Kirsten Johnson as the recipient of the Annual Celebration Award, supported by the Ravenal Foundation.

Kirsten Johnson at 2013 Ex Oriente Film Workshop hosted by IDF

Grantees were chosen from over 640 applications, and include women filmmakers working in India, Egypt, Libya, China, and the United Kingdom, as well as across the United States.

In celebration of Chicken & Egg Pictures’ 10th anniversary in 2015, this most recent Open Call was designed to elevate women and girls behind and in front of the camera. This special Women & Girls On-Screen initiative prioritized projects that featured women and girls on-screen as prominent characters and storytellers of their own lives and experiences.

Still from A Guangzhou Love Affair, dir. by Kathy Huang
Still from A Guangzhou Love Affair, dir. by Kathy Huang

New projects by past Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees were awarded discretionary grants: Thank You for Playing, directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall (Call Me Kuchu) and David Osit, and Out of Mind, directed by Kristi Jacobson (A Place at the Table) received funds for completion and production, respectively.

Additionally, two films, Búscame: Search for Me, directed by Nicole Opper, and (T)ERROR, directed by Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe, were awarded follow-up grants for critical post-production needs.

Thank You for Playing, dir. by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and David Osit
Thank You for Playing, dir. by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and David Osit

The complete list of grantees is below. For the full press release, click here.

2014 Open Call Grantees:

The Amina Profile
Directed by Sophie Deraspe
In 2011, Amina Arraf, a beautiful lesbian revolutionary blogger in Syria, captured the heart of Sandra Bagaria. The fervent love affair that developed between them would sweep Sandra into an international intrigue involving American secret services, some of the biggest media outlets, and countless supporters of the Syrian revolution. This is the story of an unprecedented media fiasco that Sandra was forced to live through, and that we invite you to experience with her on a journey around the world.

Canary in a Coal Mine
Directed by Jennifer Brea
Jennifer, a Harvard PhD student, was signing a check at a restaurant when she found she could not write her own name. Months before her wedding, she became progressively more ill, losing the ability even to sit in a wheelchair. When doctors insisted that her condition was psychosomatic, she picked up her camera to document her own story and the stories of four other patients struggling with the world’s most prevalent orphaned disease.

Care
Directed by Deirdre Fishel
The feature documentary Care, now in post-production, exposes the deep flaws in the U.S. eldercare system by following the intimate and dramatic stories of three overworked and underpaid home health aides and one family struggling to find and pay for quality care. The film sounds the alarm about an exploited workforce, an aging population, and an impending crisis of care.

Councilwoman
Directed by Margo Guernsey
Councilwoman is about a Dominican hotel housekeeper who sits on the City Council in Providence, RI. The film follows her first term as she learns the ropes of political office, and is part of a spirited effort to win economic justice for hotel workers. She has two contenders in a tight race for her re-election. This is a story about civic participation and power in our democracy.

#Dalitwomenfight
Anonymous
#Dalitwomenfight is a feature-length documentary that follows a courageous group of Dalit women who overcome unspeakable attacks and spearhead a bold national campaign to end caste and sexual violence in India. Their remarkable journey catapults them from their humble villages onto the center stage of Indian politics as they fight to heal not only themselves, but also the very soul of their country.

Even When I Fall
Directed by Sky Neal and Kate Mclarnon
Even When I Fall is the story of three remarkable young Nepali women, all survivors of human trafficking into corrupt big top circuses across India. Facing forgotten families and uncertain futures, the story begins in the often-overlooked aftermath of a childhood spent in captivity and forced labor. But these tough young women were inadvertently left with a secret weapon by their captors – their breathtaking skills as circus artists.

Freedom Fields
Directed by Naziha Arebi
In post-revolution Libya, a group of women are brought together by one dream: to play football for their country. Freedom Fields is a film about struggle and sacrifice. At the new dawn of a nation once cut off from the rest of the world, this is a story of following your dreams and aspirations against all odds and at any cost. Through their eyes, we see the reality of a country in transition, where personal stories collide with history.

From This Day Forward
Directed by Sharon Shattuck
When filmmaker Sharon Shattuck’s dad came out as transgender and changed her name to Trisha, Sharon was in the awkward throes of middle school. Her father’s transition was difficult for her straight-identified mother to accept, but they decided not to divorce. Committed to staying together as a family, they began a balancing act that would prove even more challenging than expected. As the family reunites to plan Sharon’s wedding, she asks how her parent’s love survived against all odds.

A Guangzhou Love Affair
Directed by Kathy Huang
In China, an unprecedented surge in African migration has led to a rise in marriages between Chinese women and African men. A Guangzhou Love Affair captures the love, heartache, and real life challenges of Afro-Chinese couples attempting to forge a meaningful future together in the face of racism and xenophobia.

Hot Girls Wanted
Directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus
Hot Girls Wanted is a first-ever look at the realities of the professional “amateur” porn world and the steady stream of 18-to-19-year old girls entering into it.

The Movie About Anna
Directed by Alex Sichel and Elizabeth Giamatti
The Movie About Anna is a hybrid documentary that interweaves the real story of Alex Sichel, diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2011, with the fictional story of Anna Seashell (played by Lili Taylor), who manages to find the glass half-full when faced with the same diagnosis. The documentary follows Alex as she uses the film to explore what is foremost on her mind while confronting a terminal disease: parenting, marriage, faith, life, and death.

PC594
Directed by Libby Spears
PC594 is the California penal code section that describes crimes against property —including painting beautiful images on dilapidated walls. LA street artist Lydia Emily engages in biodegradable, non-violent, political protest on government and corporate real estate. She’s conquered innumerable challenges, but now a crippling diagnosis threatens to change everything.

The Trials of Spring
Directed by Gini Reticker
The Trials of Spring follows the journeys of three Egyptian women from the early days of the 2011 Arab Spring until today: Hend, from a rural military family and awaiting a harsh prison sentence for protesting against military rule; Mariam, an activist fighting to end sexual assault; and Mama Khadiga, a formerly veiled widow who became a caretaker of the revolutionaries. Their intersecting stories reveal the vital and underreported role women play in shaping the region’s future.

The Vote
Directed by Hanan Abdalla and Cressida Trew
In the first elections after the fall of a dictator, three women candidates fight for a new Egypt, as millions go to vote for the first time in their lives. But as the media celebrates the birth of a new democracy, a more sinister power struggle is at play. Capturing an historic and bloody turning point in the struggle for the region, The Vote asks fundamental questions about democracy, betrayal, and what it means to truly manifest the will of the people.

Discretionary Grants:

 Out of Mind
Directed by Kristi Jacobson
Out of Mind investigates an invisible part of the American justice system: the use of isolation and segregation in US prisons, commonly known as solitary confinement. With unprecedented access inside a prison tackling the issue head on, the film explores this divisive issue through the experiences of those on both sides of the bars.

Thank You for Playing
Directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and David Osit
Ryan Green’s four-year-old son Joel has terminal cancer. Ryan, an indie video game developer, is building an unusually poetic video game to document his experiences raising a dying child, and to honor Joel while he is still alive. Thank You For Playing follows the creation and growing success of Ryan’s game, as his son’s health continues to decline.

Follow-up Grants:

 Búscame: Search for Me
Directed by Nicole Opper
16-year-old Juan Carlos has spent most of his life either stuck in a tumultuous home or as a runaway on the streets of Mexico City. When he decides to join Ipoderac, an organization that houses runaway boys, his life changes in the most unexpected ways. Juan Carlos is a study in resilience, reminding us that peace results from patience, determination, and the ability to forgive those who have harmed us.

(T)ERROR
Directed by Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe
(T)ERROR is the first film to document, on camera, a covert counterterrorism sting as it unfolds. Through the perspective of *******, a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned FBI informant, viewers are given an unprecedented glimpse of the government’s counterterrorism tactics and the murky justifications behind them.