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
We 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 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.
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’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 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 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.
We’re beaming with pride for our grantees who will be presenting the world premieres of their projects at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival this January. Congratulations to Jennifer Brea, Ramona Diaz, Yance Ford, Sabaah Jordan with Damon Davis, and Milica Zec with Winslow Porter!
Unrest (Jennifer Brea)
Jennifer, a Harvard Ph.D. 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.
Strong Island (Yance Ford)
Set in the suburbs of the black middle class, Strong Island seeks to uncover how—in the year of the Rodney King trial and the Los Angeles riots—the murder of the filmmaker’s older brother went unpunished. The film is an unflinching look at homicide, racial injustice, and the corrosive impact of grief over time.
Whose Streets? (Sabaah Jordan and Damon Davis)
A firsthand look at how the murder of a teenage boy became the last straw for a community under siege, Whose Streets? is a story of love, loss, conflict, and ambition. Set in Ferguson, MO, the film follows the journey of everyday people whose lives are intertwined with a burgeoning national movement for black liberation.
Motherland (Ramona Diaz)
One of the world’s poorest and most populous countries, the Philippines, struggles with reproductive health policy—both in the legislature where laws are in debate, and in a hospital with the busiest maternity ward on the planet.
Tree (Milica Zec and Winslow Porter)
A virtual experience that transforms you into a rainforest tree. With your arms as branches and body as the trunk, you experience the tree’s growth from a seedling into its fullest form and witness its fate firsthand.
This year’s Sundance Film Festival is January 19–29, 2017. For the full program and schedule for the upcoming festival, visit the Sundance website.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees chosen for the Art of Nonfiction Fellowship:
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.
Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees chosen for the inaugural Bertha Foundation Fellowship:
Directed by Sahra Mosawi
On Wednesday, October 26, Chicken & Egg Pictures launched its second annual silent auction on Charitybuzz. The auction raises funds in support of Chicken & Egg Pictures’s programs that elevate and empower women non-fiction filmmakers whose artful and innovative storytelling catalyzes social change.
This year’s auction includes exclusive experiences with Danny Meyer, Gloria Steinem, Kathryn Hahn, Project Runway, the cast of “Transparent,” and more.
The auction will run until Wednesday, November 9.
The 2016 edition of the DOC NYC Film Festival features five films directed by Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees. Running November 10-17, 2016 in Manhattan, the DOC NYC Film Festival is America’s largest documentary film festival.
You can check out the full lineup of films, shorts, panels, and showcases here.
Directed by Kirsten Johnson
Drawing on footage she’s shot over the course of 25 years, documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson searches to reconcile her part in the thorny questions of permission, power, creative ambition, and human obligation that come with filming the lives of others. Tickets and showtimes available here.
Directed by Deirdre Fishel
Care 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. Tickets and showtimes available here.
Directed by Jessica Dimmock & Christopher LaMarca
The Pearl witnesses the loss and extraordinary risk of four middle-aged and senior war vets, steel foremen, and fathers and grandfathers coming out for the first time as transgender women in the hyper-masculine culture of the Pacific Northwest. Each year, their lives intersect at the annual Esprit Conference for T-girls, a weeklong event enlivening a community broken by isolation and loss. Tickets and showtimes available here.
Directed by Dawn Porter
At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by the age of 45. Four in 10 unwanted pregnancies are terminated by abortion. What would happen if access to care for these cases completely disappeared? Following the progress of two reproductive health clinics in the South, Trapped captures their struggle as they continue to provide care in an increasingly hostile legal and political climate. Tickets and showtimes here.
Directed by Nicole Opper
Sixteen-year-old Juan Carlos ran away from home to escape abusive parents. After years of battling alcohol addiction and homelessness, he found his way from Mexico City to the rural town of Atlixco, where he joined dozens of other runaway boys living in a group home named Ipoderac. This film follows Juan Carlos during the most transformative year of his life, as he prepares to travel back to Mexico City to confront his father one last time. Tickets and showtimes available here.
Congratulations to Chicken & Egg Pictures Co-Founder Wendy Ettinger and Co-Founder and Creative Director Judith Helfand, who were celebrated this past weekend by the Margaret Mead Film Festival as part of their 40 for 40 initiative.
The 40 for 40 highlights forty women who reflect and represent “Margaret Mead’s legacy of boldness, humanity, and innovation.” The full list of women chosen for this recognition is available here.
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.
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.
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.
We were thrilled to see that three Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees have been recognized with News & Documentary Emmy nominations:
Born to Fly
Directed by Catherine Gund
Nominated for Outstanding Arts & Culture Programming
Elizabeth Streb and the STREB Extreme Action Company form a motley troupe of flyers and crashers. Propelled by Streb’s edict that “anything too safe is not action,” these daredevils challenge the assumptions of art, aging, injury, gender, and human possibility. Revealing the passions behindthe dancers’ bruises and broken noses, Born to Fly offers a breathtaking tale about the necessity of art, inspiring audiences hungry for a more tactile and fierce existence.
Directed by Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly
A courageous young woman, Marianna, takes the boldest step imaginable to confront her risk of having inherited the fatal, incurable Huntington’s Disease.
The Nest takes off at Human Rights Watch!
This year, four Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported projects will be screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, including the first-ever virtual reality project we have supported.
The festival will be held in New York from June 10 – June 19, 2016. HRW Film Festival screens more than 500 films each year, spreading stories of suffering individuals through the medium of film in an effort to promote knowledge and awareness of the breaches of human rights in today’s world.
Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Sonita is the story of an 18-year-old Afghan woman following her dream to be a rapper while society surrounding her tries to silence her. She stands up against forced marriages, including her own, in which she was to be sold off for $9,000 in order to allow her family to purchase a wife for their son. This film’s personal nature imbues it with universal meaning.
Directed by Kristi Jacobson
Solitary provides a gripping look into life in prison, for both inmates and officers. It is a film about entrapment with the self, an effort to inform society of life in loneliness. Solitary provides a voice for the 80,000 people currently in solitary confinement in the US while letting them know they are not alone.
When Two Worlds Collide
Heidi Brandenburg & Mathew Orzel
The struggle of indigenous people to maintain their surrounding land when in conflict with the interests of the big companies reminds us that our battle to preserve our environment rather than establishing locations for the production of monetary gains is ever present. When Two Worlds Collide captivatingly reminds us of the state of the one world we are slowly losing.
6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement
Francesca Panetta and Lindsay Poulton
We are incredibly excited about 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement, the first VR project Chicken & Egg Pictures has supported. While traditional methods of viewing films can take you on a journey one, cannot help but notice that that journey is confined. The limits of the screen are sharp contrasts, ever-present boundaries between two worlds. Our field of vision reminds us of our surroundings and modern comforts, and by doing so, rips us away from the experiences unfolding on the screen. 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement places us in a new reality, a reality where the outside world is no longer visible and no matter where we look, our surrounding world is the world of the inmate. Their lives become ours in ways that previously weren’t possible. 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement brings new perspective to a life in solitude.
A panel, comprised of four members, including Francesca Panetta, will also be held on June 15, 2016. The panel will focus on the use of VR, its power to promote social change, as well as what boundaries we should place upon it. Virtual reality has the potential to allow a more complete understanding of suffering due to human rights violations, but like any new medium, its utility in promoting tangible change remains under debate.