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 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 non-fiction 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 is a NY-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 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 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 Land. The 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 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.