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Chicken & Egg Pictures to provide discretionary grants to two films

Chicken & Egg Pictures will provide discretionary grants to two films. Congratulations to Dark Money and The Devil We Know!

Still from Dark Money, directed by Kimberly Reed.

Dark Money, directed by Kimberly Reed

A century ago, corrupt money swamped Montana’s legislature, but Montanans rose up to prohibit corporate campaign contributions. Today, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision —which allows unlimited, anonymous money to pour into elections nationwide—Montana is once again fighting to preserve open and honest elections. Following an investigative reporter through a political thriller, Dark Money exposes one of the greatest threats to American democracy.

Still from The Devil We Know, directed by Stephanie Soechtig.

The Devil We Know, directed by Stephanie Soechtig

Unraveling one of the biggest environmental scandals of our time, a group of citizens in West Virginia take on a powerful corporation after they discover it has knowingly been dumping a toxic chemical—now found in the blood of 99.7% of Americans—into the drinking water supply.

We are excited to catch both films at Sundance 2018!

 

Impact & Innovation Initiative grantees announced!

Chicken & Egg Pictures is thrilled to provide support this year to three groundbreaking projects through our Impact & Innovation Initiative.

Image from The F Word: A Foster to Adopt Story, directed by Nicole Opper

The F Word: A Foster to Adopt Story, directed by Nicole Opper

Season 1 of The F Word revealed the story of one queer couple adopting from foster care in Oakland, CA. Season 2 continues their story while amplifying other voices in the foster care world: birth families, foster youth, adoptees, adoptive parents of color, and social entrepreneurs working to repair a broken system.

Breathe, directed by Winslow Porter and Milica Zec*

A communal experience connecting us through the simple power of existence, Breathe transforms users into Rose, a young girl orphaned after a devastating war. Rose’s life changes drastically after the trauma of living out formative years inside a conflict zone. Through her eyes, viewers live out the greatest joys and most profound struggles from her adolescence to adulthood. Each moment is inextricably shaped by her upbringing—yet she is able to find strength in small interconnected moments with those she loves.
Even as humanity continues to fail and harm each other, Breathe seeks to remind us of the solace we can find in our similarities; we are all human, and we are all connected.

The Racial Terror Project, by Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster

The Racial Terror Project is a groundbreaking immersive virtual reality, room-scale installation in which users time travel along the last route of Claude Neal, who was brutally hunted down and lynched by a mob of white men in Florida in 1934, and meet his descendant community today and his ancestors in the era of slavery. The Racial Terror Project tells the story of how our present-day lived experiences of racial violence and discrimination reflect a long, insufficiently-acknowledged history of white racial oppression that dates back to slavery and continues today.

We can’t wait to go along for the journey as these exciting projects push the boundaries of storytelling!

*Chicken & Egg Pictures also supported Tree, the first virtual reality experience in the trilogy that Breathe belongs to.

Announcing the five recipients of the third annual Breakthrough Filmmaker Award

Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to announce the third cohort of our Breakthrough Filmmaker Award!

The five selected filmmakers are Natalia Almada (Todo lo demás, 2016), Ramona Diaz (Motherland, 2017), Laura Nix (Inventing Tomorrow, 2018), Kimi Takesue (95 and 6 to Go, 2016), and Nanfu Wang (I Am Another You, 2017).

Still from 95 and 6 To Go, by Kimi Takesue.

“Chicken & Egg Pictures’ Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipients have often described their Breakthrough year as life altering,” said Lucila Moctezuma, Program Director of Chicken & Egg Pictures. “Unlike any other award, it’s not just a recognition of past accomplishments, but an investment in the future, both for the filmmakers’ careers and for the film industry at large, which must do more to honor women’s leadership and voices.”

Still from Inventing Tomorrow, by Laura Nix.

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

 

Chicken & Egg Pictures on the 90th Academy Awards® shortlist!

The Oscars® shortlist is here, and we are ecstatic to announce that two Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films have advanced to the next stage of the voting process for the 90th Academy Awards® in the Documentary Features category!

Congratulations to first-time filmmakers Jennifer Brea (Unrest) and Yance Ford (Strong Island), whose films have made it to the top 15 out of 170 submitted documentaries!

Unrest, directed by Jennifer Brea

Unrest, 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.

Strong Island, directed by Yance Ford

Strong Island, directed by 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.

Check out the rest of the documentary features that have advanced in the voting process here.

Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards® will be announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Best of luck to Jen and Yance!

Catapult Film Fund announces its latest grantees!

We are thrilled to learn that Catapult Film Fund has recognized several of our supported filmmakers with grants this year. Catapult focuses on supporting “powerful and moving storytelling, by filmmakers with a strong voice across a broad spectrum of subject matter,” and providing funding that will enable filmmakers to move forward to the next stage of production.*  Congratulations to Jessica, Kelly, Lyric, Michèle, and Penny!

Check out more information about these films, and others, here.

The Rashomon Effect
Directed by Lyric R. Cabral (Accelerator Lab 2017) and produced by Jessica Devaney (Impact & Innovation Initiative, 2016)
What happened when unarmed Black teen Michael Brown was fatally shot by White police officer Darren Wilson?**

Mississippi Red
Directed by Kelly Duane de la Vega (Application Cycle 2013)
Mississippi Red looks at American feminism through the lens of race, religion and the political establishment as a pair of bipartisan allies fight to pass an equal pay bill in one of the most conservative states in the union.**

Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni film
Directed by Michèle Stephenson (Breakthrough Filmmaker Awards, 2016) and Joe Brewster
Through intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of her poetry, Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni film pushes the boundaries of biographical documentary film to reveal the enduring influence of one of America’s greatest living artists and social commentators.**

Untitled Satanic Temple Documentary
Directed by Penny Lane (Breakthrough Filmmaker Awards, 2017)
A wildly entertaining, surprising and highly controversial look at the state of religious freedom in America today.**

 

*  = From Catapult Film Fund About Us page.

** = From Catapult Film Fund Films page.

Our inaugural NEXT GEN EGG event

On October 16, 2017, Chicken & Egg Pictures hosted a groundbreaking new event at Neuehouse in New York City. Supported by the Perspective Fund, this event invited a dozen first- and second-time filmmakers from around the world who participated in our Accelerator Lab and Diversity Fellows programs to share their film projects with film funders and industry professionals.

The goal of the event was to provide opportunities for attendees to meet in an intimate setting, learn about one another’s passions and projects, and explore avenues for support. Filmmakers presented their in-progress films to small groups, shared their filmmaking journeys and unique challenges, and received critical feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders.

The event was a huge success and additional support is already coming to our filmmakers as a result!

Stay tuned for another similar event, coming to San Francisco in 2018.

Chicken & Egg Pictures at DOC NYC 2017!

The 2017 DOC NYC Film Festival features three films that Chicken & Egg Pictures has supported directly. Running November 9-16, 2017 in Manhattan, the DOC NYC Film Festival is America’s largest documentary film festival.

Check out the full lineup of films, shorts, panels, and showcases here!

Lovesick (World Premiere)
Directed by Priya Desai and Ann Kim

In India, a culture obsessed with marriage but where AIDS is an unspeakable disease, can you find love and companionship if you’re HIV+? Ancient tradition and the new reality of HIV collide. Lovesick is the modern love story that results. Tickets and showtimes available here.

From Lovesick by Priya Desai and Ann Kim.

32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide (NYC Premiere)
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. Tickets and showtimes available here.

From 32 PIlls: My Sister’s Suicide by Hope Litoff.

Strong Island
Directed by 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. Tickets and showtimes available here.

From Strong Island by Yance Ford.

A big congratulations, also, to these Nest-supported filmmakers whose films are also screening at DOC NYC:

Katherine Fairfax Wright, Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall
Mohammed Naqvi, Insha’allah Democracy 
Geeta Gandbhir, Armed With Faith
Julia Bacha, Naila and the Uprising
Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman, Nobody Loves Me
Lucy Walker, Oh, What a Beautiful City (A City Symphony)
Laura Poitras, Risk

We’re Finalists for the 2017 Nonprofit Excellence Awards!

We are excited to announce that Chicken & Egg Pictures is a finalist in this year’s New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards Program. Six nonprofit organizations from across the city have been chosen as finalists.

The other organizations are Brooklyn Community Services, Children’s Aid, Food Bank For New York City, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and Girl Be Heard.

“Strong nonprofits help our communities thrive every day. These six finalists serve as models and provide innovative and replicable practices for all nonprofits,” said Sharon Stapel, President and Executive Director of NPCC. Thanks, Sharon!

The winning organizations, who will receive cash prizes as well as scholarships to Columbia Business School programs, will be announced during the Best Practices Workshop & Awards Presentation on Friday, December 1, 2017. We can’t wait!

Learn more about the award and the other finalists here.

Chicken & Egg Pictures Emmy Awards® Winners!

Winners of the 38th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards® were announced this past week, and we are ecstatic to congratulate two of our wonderful supported filmmakers and a friend of our Nest on their wins!

Thank You For Playing, directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and David Osit

Thank You For Playing, directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and David Osit (PBS ‘POV’) won for Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary.

When one-year-old Joel is diagnosed with terminal cancer, his father Ryan begins working on an unusual and poetic video game to honor Joel’s life. Following Ryan’s family through the creation of the game and the day-to-day realities of Joel’s treatment, Thank You For Playing is a thought-provoking testimony to the empathetic power of art, examining how we process grief through technology in the twenty-first century, and the implications of documenting profound human experiences in a new artistic medium: the video game.

(T)ERROR, dir. by Lyric Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe

(T)ERROR, directed by Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe (PBS ‘Independent Lens’) won for Outstanding Investigative Documentary.

(T)ERROR is the first documentary to place filmmakers on the ground during an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation. Through the perspective of “Shariff,”a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned informant, viewers get an unfettered glimpse of the government’s counterterrorism tactics and the murky justifications behind them. Taut, stark and controversial, (T)ERROR illuminates the fragile relationships between individual and surveillance state in modern America, and asks who is watching the watchers.

And The Armor of Light, (PBS ‘Independent Lens’), directed by our Nest-friend and supporter Abigail Disney, won for Outstanding Social Issue DocumentaryThe Armor of Light follows the journey of an Evangelical minister trying to find the moral strength to preach about the growing toll of gun violence in America.

Many congratulations to all!

Read more about this year’s awards here.

“What interests me is how people face everydayness”: Meet Zofia Pregowska, 2017 Accelerator Lab Grantee

Part Three of a series of blog posts from Chicken & Egg Pictures’ 2017 Accelerator Lab grantees. This post is an interview with Zofia Pregowska, Chicken & Egg 2017 Accelerator Lab Participant and director of People I Know.   

Your documentary debut and short film, “Invisible,” is a portrait of Krystyna, an elderly, almost blind poet, as she prepares for a performance.  It was an official selection at more than twenty five film festivals. Why do you think such a specific story has resonated with so many people?

Krystyna is an incredibly inspiring person. Though she is closed in her little apartment, she is able to wander through worlds in her imagination. At the same time, she is extremely disciplined and hardworking. She has taught me that we ourselves give value to what we do. The film is about the power of mind and imagination–but not daydreaming. Krystyna is not waiting to be saved and does not dream about the impossible. She takes her own life in her own hands, accepting it the way it is. This doesn’t mean that she accepts that she has lost her sight and hearing–but she never allows herself to be held back by her age or her disability. And she has a great sense of humor. She faces the challenges facing each of us, the gray everydayness, and she conquers them with her humor, love for life, and poetry.

A beautiful thing about “Invisible” is how quiet the audience feels, like we’re seeing something secret, something special. Your work-in-progress, “People I Know,” tells the story of Nathalie and Michael, a young married couple living in a trailer, he, a street musician, she, an oncology nurse. What compels you, as a filmmaker, to tell such intimate stories?

What compels me is the everyday quest of my characters to live a meaningful life. 90-year-old Krystyna has found her path; Michael and Nathalie, in their thirties, are at a crossroads looking for their way. What interests me is how people face everydayness. And filming people in their home is like being backstage in the theater of everyday life. What happens outside the home is a theater of social roles we play, for better or for worse.  And hopefully it is compelling to the audience because there is nothing more universal than everyday life struggles. They may take different shapes in different places, but marriage, career choices, illness, aging, everyday fears and hopes are things we all can easily relate to and [at the] same time we easily miss them in everyday life. So what I try to do is take a close look at that common reality which is often invisible, to remind myself how extraordinary, ridiculously funny, and deeply tragic it is.

How have you grown as a filmmaker since “Invisible” (it being your graduate film)? How have you been adjusting to and preparing for your first feature-length documentary?

The popularity of “Invisible” gave me a lot as I had the opportunity to travel to many international film festivals which was both an amazing inspiration and [at the] same time a reality check. Therefore, I had the opportunity to meet a great number of wonderful filmmakers, short films debutants like me as well as established ones who could share their experience. Also, my industry knowledge was practically nonexistent before that, so in that sense it was a big step for me.  I also had a chance to take part in the IDFA Academy and Uniondocs Summer Intensive in New York which was a great, enriching experience. Then, I also discovered Chicken and Egg. It would never have been possible without the Polish Film Institute’s support which made me able to travel. In the meantime I produced the children’s historical documentary short “A Brave Bunch,” which was also a great lesson for me as it was made in a completely different style of work and included child actors and around 25 crew members.  

So in that [sense] I evolved a lot, but [at the] same time it doesn’t mean making your next film is any easier than the last one. I doubt you can prepare for this kind of documentary, as you have to be open to the unexpected. It’s more like an experience of falling through the ice. Before “People I Know” I was preparing for a completely different film, the kind where you have lots more control. And then I received the call from Michael to visit him and his wife in a trailer. Once we went there with my cinematographer Tom Stankiewicz, we forgot about all other plans and we kept shooting for the last two years.  

“Invisible” captures Krystyna and her poetry using a fly-on-the-wall fashion. Will “People I Know” operate similarly stylistically?

Yes, “People I Know” will be stylistically similar in terms of creating the “feeling of being there.” I like to leave the audience alone with my characters.

Zofia Pregowska is a documentary filmmaker from Warsaw, Poland. She graduated from Warsaw Film School for film directing and her documentary debut, Invisible, premiered at IDFA  and went on to win 19 awards including the Short Documentary Jury Award at the New Orleans International Film Festival in 2014. In 2015, she made her production debut with A Brave Bunch: Uprising Through Children’s Eyes. She operates her own production company, Prego Media – Handmade Films, where she works as a director and producer.