The Harnisch Foundation is a small but mighty private foundation at the forefront of creative, progressive, spirited philanthropy. Since 1998, The Harnisch Foundation has supported effective leaders and creative communities working to advance equality, with a focus on women and girls, and has given over $10 million dollars to thousands of grantees. The Harnisch Foundation supports Chicken & Egg Pictures’ Diversity Fellows Initiative.
Chicken & Egg Pictures announces new Diversity Fellows Initiative, sponsored by The Harnisch Foundation
Chicken & Egg Pictures announced today the launch of the Diversity Fellows Initiative, a new program that supports seven non-fiction projects helmed by first or second-time women filmmakers. The Diversity Fellows Initiative is supported by The Harnisch Foundation, and will bring together participants for six months of tailored mentorship, workshops, and programming with Chicken & Egg Pictures staff.
This inaugural year of the Diversity Fellows Initiative features a partnership with DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival in the United States, which includes an educational conference for filmmakers called DOC NYC PRO.
With Creative Partner Chicken & Egg Pictures, DOC NYC has created “Breaking In: New Roadmaps,” an entire day dedicated to diversity at the festival, which is co-presented with The City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, and will take place on Thursday, November 19. The day features a full lineup of panels dedicated to exploring where diverse voices and emerging talent can get access to funding and mentorship, as well as develop their careers and artistic voice.
“Chicken & Egg Pictures is committed to discovering and elevating underrepresented voices in documentary filmmaking,” said Executive Director Jenni Wolfson. “We are thrilled to be able to support these nine exceptional filmmakers through our Diversity Fellows Initiative, sponsored by The Harnisch Foundation. We’re equally thrilled that The City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment will be joining us as a co-presenter of “Breaking In: New Roadmaps” at DOC NYC, which will share important best practices and resources for emerging artists of diverse backgrounds.”
“The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is committed to supporting opportunities for New Yorkers of all backgrounds to build meaningful careers in the media and entertainment industry,” said MOME Acting Commissioner Luis Castro. “New York is home to a talented and diverse community of artists. We are proud to partner with Chicken & Egg Pictures and DOC NYC to present “Breaking In: New Roadmaps.” This day long series will provide invaluable insights to help up-and-coming storytellers forge and grow their careers as well as foster opportunities for diverse artists to create and share their stories.”
Acting Commissioner Castro will help kick off the day with a panel about breaking into filmmaking. The panel includes veteran filmmakers Farihah Zaman (Remote Area Medical), Hao Wu (The Road to Fame) Yoruba Richen (The New Black) and Taj Paxton (Logo/Viacom), sharing lessons learned and advice on how to sustain their creative careers. Additional “Breaking In” panels will be featured throughout Thursday.
Fellows were chosen from over 400 applications to the Accelerator Lab for first and second-time women filmmakers, and received travel grants and stipends, which enabled them to come to New York and participate in Chicken & Egg Pictures’ signature story workshop, led by Creative Director Judith Helfand and Interim Creative Director Yvonne Welbon. As part of this workshop, they will receive personalized follow-up over the next six months to mark progress and receive feedback.
In addition to travel grants and stipends, fellows received an Industry Pass to DOC NYC, moving the filmmakers forward in their careers, enabling them a greater chance of finishing better films, and putting them in a stronger position when they apply for funding from other organizations. Participants also benefit from meeting and making connections with key industry professionals at DOC NYC.
THE CHICKEN & EGG PICTURES DIVERSITY FELLOWS: 2015-2016
BOUGHT, SOLD & RETURNED Director: Christina Birkhead – New York
Bought, Sold & Returned is a revealing look into the human trafficking epidemic in Vietnam. The film follows multiple Vietnamese girls who bravely faced impossible odds to make it home after being sold, as they emotionally heal and attempt to regain honorable futures. This delicate film confronts the root causes of human trafficking in Vietnam and highlights shelter and reintegration services enabling many young women to regain their lives after escape.
Director: Lily Zepeda – Los Angeles
Flush Revolution follows Jack Sim, AKA “Mr. Toilet,” a Singaporean entrepreneur turned social activist who faces impossible odds doing work that others won’t: re-imagining and rebuilding the toilet. Although he has gained global recognition for his work with the UN and the World Toilet Organization, he must make endless sacrifices with no paycheck and a staff of nine to get 2.4 billion people access to safe sanitation. As Mr. Toilet partners with an army of celebrities and world leaders, time will tell if his passion and innovation are a match for India’s largest sanitation assignment in history.
Directors: Siyan Liu & Danni Wang – New York
The bustling southern city of Dongguan is both the manufacturing hub and the sex capital of China. Most of the sex workers were once factory girls. Lady Town explores these two worlds through the lives of two struggling young women. This film follows two young Chinese women with high hopes. Yun, a young mother, wants to escape the crushing drudgery of factory work by starting her own business; while Jolin dreams of becoming an actress, instead of working in the sex industry.
OBSTINATE TO LIVE
Director: Sahra Mosawi – Afghanistan
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.
RAJADA DALKA (NATION’S HOPE)
Director: Hana Mire — Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Rajada Dalka is a feature documentary that incarnates the strong will and devotion of the Somali Women National Basketball Team amid an ongoing conflict.
SWIMMING ON DRY LAND
Director: Michelle Sérieux – Kingston, Jamaica
Swimming on Dry Land examines the lives of young gay Jamaicans, at a time when the island is debating homosexuality publicly in politics, the press and in churches. The film’s title makes reference to the concept of “fish,” a term used in Jamaica to refer to homosexuals, but also references their marginalization, coupled with an equally strong determination by some of the characters to live and love in Jamaica, despite the odds.
Directors: Dyana Winkler & Tina Brown- New York
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.
Unbeknownst even to the police, there are numerous public spaces across America that have been declared “neutral territory” by rivaling gangs. In the heart of South Central LA, Bloods and Crips put down their weapons each evening and peacefully coexist. These safe havens are found inside the faded walls of our country’s last remaining roller rinks where an underground social and artistic movement is growing under the radar. It took nearly thirty years for mainstream America to discover the brilliance of jazz. Similarly, the blues, R&B, and hip-hop were met with prejudice before being artistically recognized. United Skates will use the talent and fresh style of this world to shine a very different light on racial stereotyping through the eyes of an ex-Crip wife turned community activist, and a skater so determined to save what he loves, that he is about to lose his wife and children in the process.
Love the Sinner is a personal documentary exploring the connection between Christianity and homophobia in the wake of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Queer filmmaker Jessica Devaney grew up deeply immersed in Evangelical Christianity in Florida. After breaking with her youth as a nationally recognized activist and leader among conservative Evangelicals, Jessica left Florida and didn’t look back. She built a life that took her as far away from home as possible. Over time, her daily life became a progressive echo chamber.
The mass shooting at Pulse was a wake up call. By avoiding hard conversations with church leadership, had she missed opportunities to challenge homophobia? Love the Sinner probes our responsibility to face bias in our communities and push for dignity and equality for all.
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS
Jessica Devaney is a Brooklyn-based producer and the founder of Multitude Films. She produced the Critic’s Choice nominated Speed Sisters (Hot Docs, 2015), which the New York Times called “subtly rebellious and defiantly optimistic” and Out Again (Outfest, 2017) for Refinery29’s Shatterbox Anthology. Forthcoming films include The Feeling of Being Watched, The Rashomon Effect, and Roll Red Roll. Jessica’s directorial debut short, Love the Sinner, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2017, screened at over a dozen festivals, and was supported by The Harnisch Foundation, Fork Films, Sundance, The Fledgling Fund, and Chicken & Egg Pictures. Jessica was formerly the Director of Communications at Just Vision where she produced films in various capacities including Sundance and Guggenheim funded Naila and the Uprising (IDFA, 2017), Peabody Award-winning My Neighbourhood (Tribeca, 2012), the web series Home Front (Aspen ShortsFest, 2011), and Ridenhour Documentary Prize and PUMA Impact Award-winning Budrus (Berlin, Tribeca, 2010). Jessica has an MA in religious studies from Wake Forest University and studied at Georgetown’s Graduate School of Foreign Service in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. She co-founded the Queer Producers Collective, produced Doc Society’s inaugural Queer Impact Producers Lab, and was Sundance Edit and Story Lab Fellow and a Women at Sundance Fellow.
Geeta Gandbhir has won two Emmy® Awards, and her films have won an Academy Award® and three Peabody Awards. Most recently, a feature documentary she produced with Perri Peltz and directed with Academy Award®-winning director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, A Journey of A Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. She is currently co-directing and co-producing a Conversation series on race with The New York Times Op-Docs, and she co-directed and edited the film, Remembering the Artist, Robert De Niro, Sr. with Perri Peltz for HBO. Her film, Which Way is the Front Line From Here? with author and Academy Award-nominated director Sebastian Junger was nominated for the 2014 News and Doc Emmy®.
In Afghanistan where systematic abuses of girls rarely come to light, and seeking justice can be deadly, one young woman says “Enough.” Khatera was brutally raped by her father since the age of nine and today she raises two precious and precocious children whom he sired. Against her family’s and many Afghanis’ wishes, Khatera forces her father to stand trial. This is her incredible story of love, hope, bravery, forgiveness, and truth.
Obstinate is a participant in our Diversity Fellows Initiative, supported by The Harnisch Foundation.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Sahra Mosawi is an Afghan filmmaker. She studied BA in Digital Film Production at London Metropolitan. Getting an MA in Documentary Film-making from University of the Arts London, she started to work as a lecturer for the Arts Department of Kabul University. Sahra was an organizer of Afghanistan Human Rights Film Festival, 2013. She is the founder of Afghanistan DocHouse based in Kabul, and co-founder of Anahat Vision and Films Production based in London. She has made several documentaries nominated for different film festivals and won awards.
If doing what you love put your life at risk, would you continue to do it? What if it would also endanger the life of your family and friends? Would you carry on? Or would you quit?
These are the questions the women athletes of Rajada Dalka/Nation’s Hope face every single day as they are met with threats from members of the Al-Shabab militia in Mogadishu. Diving deep inside the Somali National Women’s basketball team’s first season since the civil war, the film follows veteran coach Suad Galow as she shepherds her team of fearless young women, and helps them to overcome the violent threats against them and reclaim their place on the international stage.
Rajada Dalka is a participant in our Diversity Fellows Initiative, supported by The Harnisch Foundation.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Hana Mire is a 27-year-old Somali indie filmmaker based in the United Arab Emirates. She has participated in the New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi, Chicken & Egg Pictures’ Diversity Fellows Initiative, the Greenhouse Program, and the UnionDocs August Documentary Intensive. Her first mini-doc Silent Art was awarded a prize at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival. Rajada Dalka is Hana’s first feature length documentary. By telling a story about the love of basketball, Hana hopes to portray Somalia through a different lens than the ones commonly used outside of the country.
Dongguan, simultaneously the manufacturing hub and inadvertent sex capital of China, is home to 1.7 million female factory workers, 300,000 of which are now former factory girls turned sex workers. Since the government crackdown on prostitution in 2014, an increasing number of women seek to flee Dongguan – and the stigma associated with it. It is here that 22-year-old country girl, Jolin, has worked for the past five years, and where her story begins. The documentary focuses on a former factory girl, Jolin, who is the only child of her family and has found work as a stripper in Dongguan. She undergoes risky plastic surgery to look more “sexy” and tries to find her estranged father for reasons that go beyond healing her fractured family. She hopes to leave Dongguan behind and become a famous actress in Shanghai.
JOLIN: The Evolution of my Life is a participant in our Diversity Fellows Initiative, supported by The Harnisch Foundation.
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS
Jolin is co-directed by Siyan Liu & Danni Wang.
Siyan Liu received her MFA in Social Documentary Film from School of Visual Arts in 2015. She used to be a screenwriter for fiction films in China. She has been working as an assistant director in the Documentary Channel of China Central Television (CCTV-9) for two years. She established BANYAN FILM LLC with her partner Danni Wang in New York City.
Danni Wang is a Chinese filmmaker based in New York City who graduated from MFA in Social Documentary Film at School of Visual Arts in 2015. Her college student short documentary Family Story was officially selected by China Independent Film Festival in 2013 and Chinese Documentary Festival in 2013.
When 14-year old Di is tricked by her uncle and trafficked with her mother and sister across the border into China, she is forced to marry as a child bride. When 11-year old PaNa’s mother and sisters go missing, her uncle offers to help find them — but instead sells her to two Chinese men, who take her across the Red River by water taxi. When 15-year old Lien and her friend get caught attempting to escape a brothel, the owner decapitates her friend and forces Lien to spend the night alongside the corpse. These kinds of stories are all too common in Southeast Asia. Of the 45 million humans reported to be trapped in modern-day slavery worldwide today, only two percent will ever return home. Di, PaNa and Lien are three of the lucky ones. They escaped.
Along the Line is a story of grit and resilience born in the depths of great suffering. We follow Di, PaNa, and Lien as they confront their past, wrestle with the present, and struggle to find the strength to believe in a future. It is a story of survival and healing, of forgiveness and hope, that gives voice to the survivors themselves while challenging international audiences to imagine what needs to be done to foster reintegration, acceptance, and healing after trafficking.
Along the Line is a participant in our Diversity Fellows Initiative, supported by The Harnisch Foundation.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Christina Birkhead’s background in project management and behavior therapy makes for a perfect fit for storytelling and the problem solving skills needed to produce films. Christina has worked on two feature length documentary films as a line producer and has written and directed one short documentary for the non-profit Reach The Children in Uganda. Along the Line is Christina’s first feature length documentary film.
Swimming on Dry Land examines the lives of young gay Jamaicans, at a time when the island is debating homosexuality publicly in politics, the press and in churches. The film’s title makes reference to the concept of ‘fish’, a term used in Jamaica to refer to homosexuals, but also references their marginalization, coupled with an equally strong determination by some of the characters to live and love in Jamaica, despite the odds.
Swimming on Dry Land is a participant in our Diversity Fellows Initiative, supported by The Harnisch Foundation.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Michelle Serieux is an independent filmmaker from St Lucia currently residing in Jamaica. She holds a BA (Hons) in Media and Communication with Minors in Drama and Cultural Studies from the University of the West Indies Mona Jamaica campus, and a MA in Film/Cinema Studies from the Columbia University School of the Arts in New York. In 2013 she became the first Caribbean recipient of the Tribeca Film Institute/World View Latin American Media Arts Grant for her first documentary feature Swimming on Dry Land. Michelle is a cultural activist interested in developing work in video and new media that addresses the social and developmental issues in the Caribbean and connects them to a larger Pan African / Global context. She is a committed art-ivist who is inspired by innovation, excellence and originality. Michelle’s guiding mission is to produce work that challenges the limitations inherent in her geo-political background as a female descendant of enslaved Africans in the Underdeveloped “New” World.
When America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community of thousands battle in a racially charged environment to save an underground subculture–-one that has remained undiscovered by the mainstream for generations, yet has given rise to some of the world’s greatest musical talent.
United Skates is a participant in our Diversity Fellows Initiative, which is supported by The Harnisch Foundation.
ABOUT THE DIRECTORS
Tina Brown is a Vietnamese-Australian filmmaker with a successful career in the film, television and commercial industry. Tina co-produced Dear Mandela, a feature-length documentary set in the slums of Durban which received an “I Believe In You” grant from Chicken & Egg Pictures, as well as support from Sundance Institute and many others. Now predominantly working in sports production, Tina’s work includes features and commercials for Red Bull, Puma, Gatorade, IBM, Levi’s, Schick, Izod, MTV, NBC, ESPN, and Fox Sports; as well as sporting events from figure skating features for the Winter Olympics, to the Super Bowl, Tour de France and US Open Tennis. Prior to moving to New York, Tina created marketing and PR film campaigns for the distribution arm of major and independent studios including Paramount, Universal, MGM, DreamWorks, Miramax, Pixar, Disney, and Village Roadshow.
For over six years, Dyana Winkler worked for both the Sundance Film Institute and Tribeca Film Institute, reviewing and deliberating upon thousands of narrative and documentary grant submissions and honing her skills as filmmaker. Dyana also programmed for the Outfest Film Festival and frequently screens submissions for Chicken & Egg and the Sundance Documentary Film Program. Dyana holds a B.A in political science and economics from Mount Holyoke College and an MFA in screenwriting, directing and production, from EICAR in Paris. Fluent in French and Tibetan, Dyana spent nearly a decade living internationally, where she interviewed then recent refugees from Tibet for local TV stations and directed and produced a short documentary film on South Asian orphanages, which aired on BBC (Bhutanese Broadcasting).
United States has participated in the Sundance Institute Music and Sound Design Lab, and has received a Fledgling Fund grant. The directors have scheduled an interview with Nelly, who recorded his first album in the basement of a roller rink, and are in talks with Queen Latifah.
We are so grateful to the supporters of our Nest. These generous and committed donors empower the work of women filmmakers through both financial and moral support:
Dominique Bravo & Eric Sloan
Sylviane Destribats / The NDL Foundation
David desJardins & Nancy Blachman
Laura & Tim Dierks
Abigail Disney & Pierre N. Hauser/Like a River Fund
Barbara Dobkin / The Dobkin Family Foundation
Educational Foundation of America
Victoria & Jeff Edwards
Lauren & Gayle Embrey / The Embrey Family Foundation
Tracy & Mark Ferron
The Fisher-Cummings Family Fund
Genuine Article Pictures
Lynda Goldstein / The Mally Fund
The Gruber Family Foundation
The Harnisch Foundation
William B. Hirsch
Irving Harris Foundation Discretionary Grant Program at the recommendation of Nancy Meyer and Marc Weiss
Barbara Ellis Jones / The Barbara Jones Charitable Fund
Elizabeth King / Steiner-King Foundation
Suzanne La Fetra / The La Fetra Foundation
Susan Margolin & Neal Smith
Linda & John Mason
Nion T. McEvoy
Debra McLeod & Jay Sears/ Grant Me the Wisdom Foundation
Michelle Mercer & Bruce Golden
Roswitha Mueller-Agarwal & AJ Agarwal
Lori & Janusz Ordover / The Ordover Family Charitable Fund
The Pershing Square Foundation
Lisa & John Pritzker
Cathy Raphael / The MAC Fund of the Pittsburgh Foundation
Cornelia Ravenal/ The Ravenal Foundation
Susan Cohn Rockefeller / Susan Cohn Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Communal Fund
Peter & Pamela Rosekrans
Jamie Rosenthal Wolf, David Wolf, Rick Rosenthal, & Nancy Stephens/The Rosenthal Family Foundation
Susie Sarlo / The Sarlo Foundation
Susan M. Sherrerd
Alexandra Shiva / The Susan Stein Shiva Foundation
The Sidhu-Singh Family Foundation
Susan Termohlen / The Kaspick/Termohlen Family Fund
Lynda Weinman & Bruce Heavin
The Weissberg Foundation
Marissa C. Wesely & Fred Hamerman
Jacki Zehner / The Jacquelyn & Gregory Zehner Foundation