Part Two of a series of blog posts from Chicken & Egg Pictures’ 2017 Accelerator Lab grantees. This post is an interview with Hana Mire, Chicken & Egg 2017 Accelerator Lab Participant, 2016 Diversity Initiative Fellow, and director of Rajada Dalka/Nation’s Hope.
Tell us about your film. What stage is it currently in?
The film is about the Somalia women’s national basketball team. We’re following two young girls who were raised in Mogadishu and play for the team as, every day, they receive death threats from the terrorist organization, Al Shabaab, telling them to stop playing. At the same time, we’re following two older generation women who played basketball in Somalia before the civil war, twenty-seven years ago, who are training the girls for the Pan Arab Games.
We’re in production. The ending of the film will be the Pan Arab Games in February. Then we’ll move to the post-production.
How did you discover the female basketball players of Mogadishu and then decide they would be the subjects of your first feature film?
I used to work in a bank as a customer service agent. One day, one of my colleagues, who knew I was Somali, was reading an article. She came to me and said, Hana, you have to check out this story. And I read this story about these older generation players training these young girls in Somalia, and I was so inspired.
I did my research and reached out to the team in Somalia. I emailed them, explained who I was, and told them I was very interested in coming to Somalia to make a film. They were very supportive.
One month later, I came to Somalia with a skeleton-crew to see the girls, meet the coaches, and start the film.
Being a Somali woman who was born and raised in the U.A.E., what has been your experience being in Somalia to film Rajada Dalka?
I wanted to find Somalia through my eyes. I had never been because my parents left Somalia forty years ago and came to the United Arab Emirates.
The stories my mom told me were so different from what the media told me. Growing up in the U.A.E., every time I turned on the TV and people were talking about Somalia, they were showing the poverty and filming the war. I was never turning on the TV and seeing something positive about my country. I wanted to come closer to this culture.
When I went to Somalia to meet the team and film them, it was eye-opening for me. It was my first time in Somalia, and it was such an inspirational trip. Everything I was seeing, I was seeing for the first time. All the colors—all the beautiful colors that the women would wear! I was so in love with the people, the dances, the clothes, the poetry, the city, the story, and everything! And I felt so welcome. People really opened their doors to me. One day, I was waiting for my driver and people kept coming up to me saying, do you need anything? Do you need a ride? Are you lost?
I thought, this is something you don’t see. This is not something being shown to anyone. You see in the media that we are aggressive, that we are fighting, that we are dying. That’s all I had ever heard from people—Somali people are dying because they have no water, no access to food. But it’s not the whole country that’s in that position. I’m not denying that there is poverty. Everywhere, there’s poverty. But my film is going to show how these girls live. They’re struggling, how any other person is struggling. Like anyone living in New York City and working and living. Paying their rent, providing, and paying the bills. It’s the same life, I would say. These girls are happy in their home. That’s what I want to show. They don’t have to be in the US! They don’t have to be in Europe to be happy!
The only thing they need is to have security, to have a secure country that can support them.
How can we, as an audience, relate to these women who risk everything to play the sport they love?
I think the film will inspire people who are going through similar conditions, or any conditions with an obstacle in front of them. You would not expect someone who receives death threats on a daily basis to continue playing basketball!
If someone told me, I’m going to kill you unless you stop making films, I would stop and think about me. We all get to live just one time in this world. We have to achieve what we really want and what we believe in.
And that’s why I relate to these girls. Initially, I had to hide the fact that I was studying filmmaking from my family. Like the girls in Mogadishu had to hide from their families that they were risking their lives playing basketball.
Are they supportive now?
They changed their minds; my whole family changed their minds. Because they saw that I’m very persistent when I find a story that is really important to me and a story that really matters. And this story matters.
They also got pretty encouraged when they found out I had been funded by organizations all the way in the US. They were like, okay, so she’s being supported internationally; this filmmaking thing is real, not just to her. So, they left me with that.
Glad we could help!
United Arab Emirates-based independent Somali filmmaker Hana Mire is the director and producer of the forthcoming documentary and her feature directorial debut, Rajada Dalka. She has taken film production courses at New York Film Academy in Abu Dhabi, has directed and produced short documentaries, and in 2013, she won an award at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival for her mini-doc, Silent Art. Last year, she was a Documentary Intensive Fellow at UnionDocs and a Diversity Fellows Initiative filmmaker.
Post by Morgan Hulquist, Summer 2017 Chicken & Egg Pictures Communications Intern.
What a week for wonderful news at Chicken & Egg Pictures!
Nominees for the 38th Annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards® were announced yesterday and we were overloaded with joy to see so many Nest-supported films and filmmakers included. Congratulations to all and good luck!
Among the Believers, directed by Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Naqvi (World ‘Doc World’) Nominated for Outstanding Politics and Government Documentary
The Hand That Feeds, directed by Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick (World ‘America ReFramed’) Nominated for Outstanding Business and Economic Documentary
Meet the Patels, directed by Geeta Patel and Ravi Patel (PBS ‘Independent Lens’) Nominated for Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary
No Más Bebés, directed by Renee Tajima-Peña (PBS ‘Independent Lens’) Nominated for Outstanding Historical Documentary
The Return, directed by Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway (PBS ‘POV’) Nominated for Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, directed by Deborah S. Esquenazi (Investigation Discovery) Nominated for Outstanding Social Issue Documentary
Thank You For Playing, directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and David Osit (PBS ‘POV’) Nominated for Best Documentary, Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary, and Outstanding Editing: Documentary
(T)ERROR, directed by Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe (PBS ‘Independent Lens’) Nominated for Outstanding Investigative Documentary
What Tomorrow Brings, directed by Beth Murphy (PBS ‘POV’) Nominated for Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary
And a special congratulations to 2017 Accelerator Lab grantee Nanfu Wang for Hooligan Sparrow, (PBS ‘POV’), which was nominated for Outstanding Politics and Government Documentary and Outstanding Editing: Documentary; and our Nest-friend and supporter Abigail Disney for The Armor of Light, (PBS ‘Independent Lens’), nominated for Outstanding Social Issue Documentary.
Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to announce that we are semifinalists for this year’s New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards Program. Ten nonprofit groups from across the city have been chosen as semifinalists and will be competing for up to $60,000 in cash prizes and scholarships to Columbia Business School programs.
“As an organization that thrives on learning, innovation and high standards of management, making it to the semi-final round of the Nonprofit Excellence Awards means so much to us. We are committed to building leadership across all staff and are looking forward to gaining valuable feedback on our management practices from going through this rigorous awards application process. We believe that it will better equip us to fulfill our mission of supporting women nonfiction filmmakers and advancing gender equity in the film industry,” said Jenni Wolfson, Executive Director, Chicken & Egg Pictures.
The winning organizations will be announced during the Best Practices Workshop & Awards Presentation on Friday, December 1, 2017.
Learn more about the prestigious award and the other semifinalists here.
The Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017 just wrapped and we are proud to announce the Chicken & Egg-supported filmmakers who were awarded at Sheffield Doc/Fest this year: Yance Ford for Strong Island, Jennifer Brea for Unrest and Unrest (VR)*, and Violeta Ayala for The Fight*.
Directed by Yance Ford
Tim Hetherington Award, presented by Dogwoof and the Tim Hetherington Trust.
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.
Called a “brave, revealing film” and a “stylish and wrenching rumination on familial grief” by the New York Times, Strong Island was one of six films considered for the Tim Hetherington award which recognizes films and filmmakers for reflecting journalist Tim Hetherington’s legacy. It is streaming now on Netflix.
Unrest and Unrest (VR)
Directed by Jennifer Brea
Illuminate Award supported by Welcome; Alternate Realities VR Award.
Unrest tells the story of Jennifer by Jennifer, a Harvard Ph.D. student, who 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.
Unrest (VR) is the virtual reality project based on the Chicken & Egg-supported documentary. Tiffany Pritchard from Filmmaker Magazine writes, “Unrest (VR) is a 10-minute immersive experience that takes place from a bed, where I lay down and, with an Oculus Rift, experienced what it’s like to be confined to a room with the debilitating illness ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis). Through a nod of my head, I was navigated through insightful experiences that provided scientific inner workings of our brains.”
Congratulations to Jennifer for her two wins!
Directed by Violeta Ayala and Daniel Fallshaw
Doc/Dispatch Prize supported by Deutsche Welle.
The Fight is a short documentary, produced by The Guardian, which tells the story of disabled people in Bolivia fighting for their rights by journeying across the Andes to La Paz, where they are met with violence by police.
Violeta’s Nest-supported film, Cocaine Prison, documents the inside of one of Bolivia’s most notorious prisons, telling the story of a cocaine worker fighting for freedom, a drug mule who dreams of being a drug boss, and his younger sister, to reveal the country’s relationship with cocaine. Cocaine Prison bridges the ever-widening gap between the North and the South and brings a new perspective to the War on Drugs as it is waged in the Andes.
*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not support Unrest (VR) or The Fight directly, but did support both Jennifer and Violeta in their feature-length films. Jennifer Brea received a grant for Unreal, and Violeta Ayala received a grant for Cocaine Prison.
Post by Morgan Hulquist, Summer 2017 Chicken & Egg Pictures Communications Intern
Join us for our first ever LIVE CHICK-PITCH at the 2017 Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Our focus: to showcase, celebrate, and introduce you to the work, vision, and promise of 10 compelling projects helmed by emerging women directors from around the globe—each one a member of our 2017 CHICKEN & EGG PICTURES Accelerator Lab, hailing from Bangladesh, China, Somalia, Mexico, Poland, and across the US.
The Live Pitch will take place on Sunday, June 11, 12:00 – 14:00 pm at the Sheffield ITV Town Hall Reception Room B.
Moderated by award-winning filmmaker Judith Helfand, Chicken & Egg Pictures’ Co-Founder and Senior Creative Consultant.
- Born in China by Nanfu Wang & Lynn Zhang (China)
- The Guardian of Memory by Marcela Arteaga (Mexico)
- Kids Can Spit by Chelsi Bullard (US)
- Lights, Camera, Uganda by Cathryne Czubek & Hugo Perez (US)
- People I Know by Zofia Pregowska (Poland)
- Rajada Dalka/Nation’s Hope by Hana Mire (Somalia)
- The Rashomon Effect by Lyric R. Cabral (US)
- Surf Girls of Cox’s Bazar by Elizabeth D. Costa (Bangladesh)
- The Surrender of Waymond Hall by Jane Greenberg, (US)
- Unaccompanied Children by Alexandra Codina (US)
Find out more about the 2017 Accelerator Lab.
If you would like to attend let us know by emailing Sabine Fayoux, Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you can’t join us at the Live Pitch please consider meeting with the filmmakers individually or in small group meetings during the festival. To coordinate a meeting, please contact our European representative and Sheffield Doc/Fest liaison Tereza Šimíková at email@example.com.
The Chicken & Egg Pictures Accelerator Lab is a year-long program that brings together 10 nonfiction projects directed by women from around the world who are making their first or second film. The program provides them with a major grant of $35,000 USD and intensive mentorship that strives to balance creative storytelling and core producing skills with practical models for building sustainability, community, and relationships in the nonfiction marketplace. The 2017 Sheffield Doc/Fest marks the program’s second of three retreats, this one built around utilizing and leveraging all that the Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Meet Market and Industry Convenings have to offer.
Congratulations to all Nest-supported filmmakers at Sheffield Doc/Fest this year! Our programs team will be there with the 2017 Accelerator Lab cohort for first- and second-time filmmakers so if you’re around, come say hello.
Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films and filmmakers at 2017 Sheffield:
- World Premiere: Armed With Faith, directed by Asad Faruqi and Geeta Gandbhir*
- UK Premiere: Do Donkeys Act?, directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin*
- World Premiere: Even When I Fall, directed by Kate McLarnon and Sky Neal
- World Premiere: Insha’Allah Democracy, directed by Mohammed Naqvi*
- UK Premiere: Motherland, directed by Ramona S. Diaz
- UK Premiere: Strong Island, directed by Yance Ford
- European Premiere: The Departure, directed by Lana Wilson
- UK Premiere: Unrest, directed by Jennifer Brea
- European Premiere: Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Folayan and co-directed by Damon Davis
*Chicken & Egg pictures did not support Armed With Faith, Do Donkeys Act?, and Insha’Allah Democracy, but did support Geeta Gandhbir for A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, Love the Sinner, and A Conversation with Police on Race (NY Times Op-Doc); Ashley Sabin for Girl Model; and Mohammed Maqvi’s film Among the Believers. And, as a 2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient, Geeta has received support from Chicken & Egg Pictures in the forms of a $50,000 unrestricted grant, individualized mentorship, and creative and professional workshops.
Go to the Sheffield Doc/Fest website for more information and the full lineup.
In New York instead? Check out Nest-supported films and filmmakers at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival (June 9-18).
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is rolling into New York City again this June, and we can’t wait to see our filmmakers in action there! Each screening is followed by a discussion.
Go to the HRW Film Festival website for more information and the full lineup:
MUHI – Generally Temporary
Directed by Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander and Tamir Elterman
For the past seven years, Muhi, a young boy from Gaza, has been trapped in an Israeli hospital. Rushed there in his infancy with a life-threatening immune disorder, he and his doting grandfather, Abu Naim, wound up caught in an immigration limbo that made it impossible for them to leave. With Muhi’s citizenship unclear, and Abu Naim denied a work permit or visa, the pair reside solely within the constraints of the hospital walls. Caught between two states in perpetual war, Muhi is being cared for by the very same people whose government forbids his family to visit, and for him or his grandfather to travel back. Made by two filmmakers from Jerusalem, this documentary lays out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in human terms, documenting the impact these paradoxical circumstances have on individual lives.
Directed by Tiffany Hsiung
Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines were amongst thousands of girls and young women who were sexually exploited by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, many through kidnapping, coercion and sexual slavery. Some 70 years after their imprisonment, and after decades living in silence and shame about their past, the wounds are still fresh for these three former ‘comfort women’. Despite multiple formal apologies from the Japanese government issued since the early 1990’s, there has been little justice; the courageous resolve of these women moves them to fight and seize their last chance to share first-hand accounts of the truth with their families and the world, and to ensure that this horrific chapter of history is neither repeated nor forgotten.
June 11, 2017, 8:30 PM / Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater
Screening followed by discussion with filmmaker Tiffany Hsiung and Sarah Taylor, Advocate, Women’s Rights division, Human Rights Watch
Directed by Heather White and Lynn Zhang*
Shot below the radar, Complicit follows the journey of Chinese factory migrant worker-turned-activist Yi Yeting, who takes his fight against the global electronic industry from his hospital bed to the international stage. While battling his own work-induced leukemia, Yi Yeting teaches himself labour law in order to prepare a legal challenge against his former employers. But the struggle to defend the lives of millions of Chinese people from becoming terminally ill due to working conditions necessitates confrontation with some of the world’s largest brands including Apple and Samsung. Unfortunately, neither powerful businesses nor the government are willing to have such scandals exposed.
Check out Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films and filmmakers featured in the 2017 POV lineup:
Dalya’s Other Country
Directed by Julia Meltzer
Dalya’s Other Country tells the nuanced story of members of a family displaced by the Syrian conflict who are remaking themselves after the parents separate. Effervescent teen Dalya goes to Catholic high school and her mother, Rudayna, enrolls in college as they both walk the line between their Muslim values and the new world in which they find themselves. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).
PBS Premiere: June 26, 2017
Directed by Ramona Diaz
Motherland is an absorbingly intimate, vérité look at the busiest maternity hospital on the planet, in one of the world’s most populous countries: the Philippines. Women share their stories with other mothers, their families, doctors and social workers. In a hospital that is literally bursting with life, we witness the miracle and wonder of the human condition. Winner, 2017 Sundance World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Commanding Vision.
PBS Premiere: October 16, 2017
Directed by Kirsten Johnson (2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker)
A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home: these scenes and others are woven into a tapestry of footage captured over the twenty-five-year career of cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. A work that combines documentary, autobiography, and ethical inquiry, Cameraperson is a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world. Official Selection, 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
PBS Premiere: October 23, 2017
Check your local listings for the schedule in your time zone.
By Chelsi Bullard
Part One of a series of blog posts from Chicken & Egg Pictures’ 2017 Accelerator Lab grantees. This post is brought to us by Chelsi Bullard, director of Kids Can Spit, about New York City teens competing against one another in the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bringing Attention to Transforming, Teaching, and Learning Science). Here Chelsi interviews one of the subjects of her film right before the big competition.
Chloe, a student at Brooklyn Preparatory High School in Brooklyn, is a part of the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. program in her school. The program engages youth in science through hip hop music and culture, and builds up to a citywide competition where students across New York City’s boroughs participate in a rap battle to be crowned the ‘Science Genius.’ Science Genius aims to blur the lines of what is perceived as academic, and what is not. In this interview, Chloe talks about the rhymes she created for the competition as well as her anticipation and excitement for the big event!
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Chloe Hernandez, I’m 17 and I go to Brooklyn Prep.
What is SG [Science Genius]?
For me personally, it’s more than just an opportunity to incorporate science with rap. I can use my knowledge, it’s fun, and it appeals to people. [It’s exciting that it’s] not only for the boys but, as a young female, I could do something like this.
Tell me about the competition.
You get together with a group and you put together what you know and the message you want to send, which has to do with real life, not just scientific concepts. Then, you have a school battle against your peers in school who have their own science raps. If you go on to the final battle, you present your raps against students from all over the place. It’s really how can you connect science to something you’re really passionate about.
I’m rather scared because last year’s winner is from my school, and I’m proud of them and want to be proud of myself too.
What’s your group’s piece about?
It started with another girl [on my group], Kiersten, and inspired by the concept that there is no such thing as darkness, just an absence of light. The piece talks about the African American community and how teens have something to say about all of our problems. Adults don’t listen [so] we use sound waves to talk about our everyday lives that adults don’t see.
What’s your relationship to science like?
At first I was afraid of getting into science. [My teammate] Ivy and I both thought “How are we going to incorporate science?” But it’s not like it’s something I didn’t want to learn. Now, physics is probably the most amazing subject I’ve ever had. Like light waves—a lot of things when I see it, it’s not what I see. Our eyes create these colors. This is really cool.
What are the top three things you try to remember to relax and do your best before a performance?
- Calm down, it’s not the end of the world!
- There are no losers because everyone has the same nerves as me.
- Be proud of myself. If I get to the school-wide battle, then I am worthy of my spot, even if it’s not #1.
Come cheer Chloe and the other competitors on at the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. Finals on Friday, May 26! You can register here. And come back every month to see more from our Accelerator Lab grantees!
Chelsi Bullard is an independent video editor turned director based in Harlem. She likes to attach herself to stories that take the viewer to little known worlds and introduce them to courageous and outspoken characters. Most recently, she edited the short I Was Here First (2015) that premiered at DOC NYC and was produced as a part of the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio in Brooklyn, NY where Chelsi was a media arts fellow. Visit her website: http://www.chelsibullard.com/.
Chelsi is a grantee of our 2017 Accelerator Lab for first- and second-time filmmakers. Kids Can Spit is her feature directorial debut.
Congrats to our newest group of filmmakers coming into the Nest!
Co-directed by Christina D. King & Elizabeth Castle (US)
The women of the American Indian Movement fight from a vulnerable place only matriarchs can understand—it is a battle for their children and the culture they hope to preserve for them. Warrior Women chronicles the struggle of Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcy Gilbert, a Lakota mother and daughter whose fight for indigenous rights started in the 1970s and continues today at Standing Rock.
Through archival footage, verité, and video art, we experience Thunder Hawk’s dedication to Red Power and come to understand that activism is necessary for the very survival and success of Native culture and values for the next generation.
How to Have an American Baby
Directed by Leslie Tai (US)
How to Have an American Baby is a kaleidoscopic voyage that travels behind closed doors into the booming shadow economy that caters to affluent Chinese tourists who travel to the US on birthing vacations—in order to give birth and obtain US citizenship for their babies. Tracing the underground supply chain from Beijing and Shanghai to Los Angeles, the film weaves together vignettes and deeply private moments. In bedrooms, delivery rooms, and family meetings, the story of a hidden global economy emerges—depicting the fortunes and tragedies that befall the ordinary people caught in the web of its influence.
Untitled Race & Criminal Justice Project
Directed by Ursula Liang (US)
A nuanced look at how two communities of color navigate an uneven criminal justice system, anchored by one polarizing New York City case.
Directed by Carolina Corral (MEXICO)
Since Oliver was killed, he communicates with his mother María through the rain. He let her know the attorney’s office buried him, along with 117 other corpses, in a hidden mass grave. This sparks a new life mission for María: to hold the government accountable for exhuming them all and returning the bodies back to the families who have been looking for them for years.
The Other Half of the African Sky
Directed by Tapiwa Chipfupa (ZIMBABWE)
The Other Half Of The African Sky follows filmmaker Tapiwa Chipfupa’s attempts to reconcile her estrangement from her family, triggered by a disagreement over her marriage. Through encounters with other women from all walks of life facing their own predicaments, Tapiwa explores how women hold up their half of the sky under a very constrictive and constantly contradictory environment in this very personal, brutally honest, and intriguing document of the disparities and the vast contradictions that women face in contemporary Zimbabwe. The film gives voice to the hopes, fears, and dreams of Zimbabwe’s women while simultaneously revealing a country in flux.
For more information, visit the Diversity Fellows Initiative webpage.