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Maia Lekow: Dozen Days of Filmmakers — Day 3

Chicken & Egg Pictures is celebrating the holiday season and saying farewell to 2020 by featuring a dozen Nest-supported women and gender nonconforming filmmakers. For more Dozen Days of Filmmakers, see here.

Maia von Lekow is an acclaimed Kenyan filmmaker, musician, and co-director of The Letter with Chris King. Filmed with a gentle pace and incredible closeness, The Letter is a gripping family drama about a 95 year-old Grandmother with a fearless spirit who must overcome dangerous accusations of witchcraft that are coming from within her own family. 

The Letter made its world premiere at IDFA in 2019 and screened at DOC NYC, DocsBarcelona, and AFI DOCS festivals. The film is Kenya’s official submission to the 93rd Academy Awards® for Best International Film and is currently streaming in Kenyan cinemas nationwide. In addition to being co-director, Maia composed a poignant original score for the film along with Emmy-winning Toronto-based composer Ken Myhr. 

Maia has also worked as director, producer, and sound recordist for several film and music projects since founding Circle and Square Productions in 2009. She has performed on stages across the world and continues to compose music for films. She received an African Movie Academy Award for her song Uko Wapi, and was named a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR on World Refugee Day 2013.

Kimberly Reed: Dozen Days of Filmmakers — Day 2

Chicken & Egg Pictures is celebrating the holiday season and saying farewell to 2020 by featuring a dozen Nest-supported women and gender nonconforming filmmakers. For more Dozen Days of Filmmakers, see here.

2020 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Kimberly Reed’s most recent film, Dark Money, tells the story of a Montana fighting to preserve open and honest elections. The film was an award-winning selection at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and promptly named one of Vogue’s “66 Best Documentaries of All Time,” nominated for Best Feature at the IDA Awards, and nominated for four Critics’ Choice Awards. The Nest-supported film was also on the 2019 Oscar shortlist. Dark Money is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video with PBS Documentaries. 

Dark Money Kimberly Reed Chicken & Egg Pictures
Still from Dark Money, directed by Kimberly Reed

Kim also directed and produced the Cinema Eye Honors-winning Prodigal Sons, the the first documentary by a transgender filmmaker to be theatrically released; produced, edited, and wrote Paul Goodman Changed My Life; and produced The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (Netflix). She was one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” and her work in broader artistic fields has also been acclaimed: she was published in The New York Times for “The Moth: 50 True Stories,” and has co-authored four operas, including As One, the most frequently produced American opera in the 21st century. Her film projections for opera have been called “worthy of Fellini or Bergman” (SF Classical Voice).

During the 2020 Chicken & Egg Award, Kimberly is working on The Gender Project, which uses bold cinematic language to confront the dichotomy of gender, exploding binary myths with scientific, historical, and cultural revelations.

Alexandra Codina: Dozen Days of Filmmakers — Day 1

Chicken & Egg Pictures is celebrating the holiday season and saying farewell to 2020 by featuring a dozen Nest-supported women and gender nonconforming filmmakers. For more Dozen Days of Filmmakers, see here.

Alexandra Codina Unaccompanied Children 2017 Accelerator LabAlexandra Codina’s newest film Paper Children (Niños de papel), an (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and Knight Foundation funded film, explores America’s invisible refugee crisis through the eyes of one Miami family who navigate a broken system with unwavering resilience. The film is a Youtube Original and is available to stream for free. Alexandra also wrote about Paper Children and moving “beyond the politics of asylum” for our blog series Letters from the AlumNest

Alexandra Codina Unaccompanied Children 2017 Accelerator Lab
Still from Paper Children, directed by Alexandra Codina

Her debut film Monica & David, also a Nest-supported project which premiered in 2009, tells the love story of two adults with Down syndrome. The film won Tribeca Film Festival’s Jury Award, was nominated for an Emmy Award, premiered on HBO, and broadcast in 33 countries. Monica & David was featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, ABC, Harper’s Bazaar, Variety, and Latina Magazine.

Monica and David Alexandra Codina
Still from Monica & David, directed by Alexandra Codina

In addition to Chicken & Egg Pictures, Alexandra’s work has also been supported by The Fledgling Fund, The Perspective Fund, Sundance Knight Fellowship, South Florida Arts Consortium & Tribeca All Access. She is currently producing Untitled: Chinese in Africa Project with Jialing Zhang (director/producer of (Egg)celerator Lab grantee One Child Nation). The daughter of Cuban refugees, Alexandra lives in Miami and is the mother of two young boys.

The Nest on the DOC NYC Short List

A special congratulations to the following Nest-supported filmmakers who were selected for DOC NYC’s famous Short Lists for contenders for the documentary short category and contenders for feature documentary category. DOC NYC Film Festival is the largest nonfiction film festival in the US and runs from Wednesday, November 11 to Thursday, November 19.

DOC NYC’s Short Lists are influential for their steady track record of anticipating Academy Award nominees and winners. Check out the Nest-supported films screening at the festival here; the films are available to watch across the US.


DOC NYC Short List: Features

Production still from A Thousand Cuts, directed by Ramona Diaz.

A Thousand Cuts
Directed by Ramona Diaz (2018 Chicken & Egg Award recipient)*

Nowhere is the worldwide erosion of democracy, fueled by social media disinformation campaigns, more starkly evident than in the authoritarian regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Journalist Maria Ressa places the tools of the free press—and her freedom—on the line in defense of truth and democracy.

Dick Johnson Is Dead
Directed by Recipient Kirsten Johnson (2017 Chicken & Egg Award recipient)*

With this inventive portrait, a cameraperson seeks a way to keep her 86-year-old father alive forever. Utilizing moviemaking magic and her family’s dark humor, she celebrates Dr. Dick Johnson’s last years by staging fantasies of death and beyond. Together, dad and daughter confront the great inevitability awaiting us all.

Still from The Fight, co-directed by Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and
Eli Despres.

The Fight, co-directed by Elyse SteinbergJosh Kriegman, and
Eli Despres (Project: Hatched 2020)

The Fight documents a team of scrappy ACLU lawyers battling Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties.

Congratulations to AlumNest filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, whose new film On the Record made the DOC NYC Short List: Features and will screen at the fest. Kirby and Amy were supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures for their project The Invisible War


DOC NYC Short List: Shorts

Congratulations to the following AlumNest filmmakers on their shortlisted short films: Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Geeta Gandbhir for Call Center Blues, Tiffany Hsiung for Sing Me A Lullaby, Alison Klayman for Flower Punk, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for A Life Too Short.


In the Winner’s Circle section of DOC NYC, catch The Mole Agent directed by 2020 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Maite Alberdi.

*These projects were supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures during the filmmakers’ Chicken & Egg Award year.

Documenting Democracy at Chicken & Egg Pictures

As a nonprofit based in the United States, the Chicken & Egg Pictures team and many of the artist-activists we support have been closely following the recent election, watching as our country voted for a new leader in a time of global crisis. 

Films about democracy and elections have long added to conversations about the democratic process on the national and international level and told the stories of our nations. As the US election cycle comes to a close, the following documentaries by women filmmakers from the past fifteen years of our organization are on our mind. Here are a few films by Nest-supported filmmakers that have used intimate storytelling to convey the power of democracy:


Still from Councilwoman

Councilwoman, directed by Margo Guernsey, follows a hotel housekeeper from the Dominican Republic who wins a City Council seat in Providence, Rhode Island. Carmen balances cleaning hotel rooms with navigating a political establishment that does not easily acquiesce to the needs of working people.
Watch on Vimeo

Democrats Camilla Nielsson
Still from Democrats

In Democrats, directed by Camilla Nielsson, two politicians from rival parties in Zimbabwe oversee the creation of a new constitution following the election of Robert Mugabe as president in 2008.
Watch on Apple TV.

Still from And She Could Be Next

And She Could Be Next, co-directed by Grace Lee (Chicken & Egg Award Recipient) and Marjan Safinia (Chicken & Egg Pictures Board), tells the story of a defiant movement of women of color, transforming politics from the ground up. The series follows candidates and organizers across the country, asking whether democracy itself can be preserved—and made stronger—by those most marginalized, featuring history-makers including Rashida Tlaib, Stacey Abrams, Lucy McBath, Bushra Amiwala, Maria Elena Durazo, Veronica Escobar, Nse Ufot and more. Watch on PBS

Still from Once Upon a Time in Venezuela

Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, directed by Anabel Rodríguez Ríos
On Lake Maracaibo, beneath the mysterious silent Catatumbo lightning, the village of Congo Mirador is preparing for parliamentary elections. For streetwise local businesswoman and Chavist party representative Tamara, every vote counts, fought by all means. While for opposition-supporting teacher Natalie, politics is a weapon that is unsuccessfully attempting to force her from her job. And with her sharp eyes, little Yohanny sees her community sinking from sedimentation, her childhood and innocence with it. How can a small fishing village survive against corruption, pollution and political decay—a reflection of all the flaws of contemporary Venezuela? If you are in the US, tune into DOC NYC to watch from November 11 – 19. Tickets here

Still from “I Am Not Going to Change 400 Years in Four.”

I Am Not Going to Change 400 Years in Four,” directed by Angela Tucker and 2016 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Kristi Jacobson, follows Satana Deberry as she takes the oath of office as district attorney of Durham County, North Carolina. Satana is a Black woman elected to an office historically held by white men whose “tough on crime” policies have devastated communities of color for decades. Now, she faces the complicated realities of seeking to reform a deeply flawed criminal justice system, and a community ravaged by gun violence. Her story is at once inspiring and empowering—and also a call to action, for voters across the US. “I Am Not Going to Change 400 Years in Four” was produced by Chicken & Egg Pictures in partnership with Mother Jones. Watch on Mother Jones

The Supreme Price Joanna Lipper
Still from The Supreme Price

The Supreme Price, directed by Joanna Lipper, traces the evolution of the Pro-Democracy Movement in Nigeria and efforts to increase the participation of women in leadership roles. Following the annulment of her father’s victory in Nigeria’s Presidential Election and her mother’s assassination by agents of the military dictatorship, Hafsat Abiola faces the challenge of transforming a corrupt culture of governance into a democracy capable of serving Nigeria’s most marginalized population: women.
Watch at Women Make Movies.


Nest-supported Films at the 2020 DOC NYC Film Festival

Our Nest-supported filmmaking community is soaring into DOC NYC Film Festival, which runs virtually from Wednesday, November 11 to Thursday, November 19. Ten supported films across many of our core programs— (Egg)celerator Lab films by emerging filmmakers, projects by advanced-career Chicken & Egg Awardees, and films from our inaugural Project: Hatched completion program—are official selections. Plus A Cops and Robbers Story, directed by directed by Ilinca Calugareanu, will make its world premiere at the New York festival! Learn more about the ten projects below, and get your tickets for DOC NYC here


Nest-supported Films

9to5: The Story of a Movement, directed by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar | Tickets here
“In the early 1970s, secretaries and other female office workers were underpaid, undervalued, unable to advance, and often subject to sexual harassment. In the wake of the Women’s Liberation Movement, a group of women in Boston finally had enough, joining together to begin 9to5, a movement that would sweep the nation with irreverent, attention-getting actions to demand meaningful change—and later inspire the eponymous hit film and song.”* 

A Cops and Robbers Story, directed by Ilinca Călugăreanu | Tickets here (World Premiere) 
In the 1980s, Corey Pegues found himself embroiled in a life of crime as a member of New York’s City’s infamous Supreme Team gang. After an incident forces Pegues away from the streets, he unexpectedly emerges as a rising star in the NYPD, his past unknown to his fellow officers. A decorated 21-year police career is threatened when his political stances and revelations about his former life cause strife within the police community. 

The Dilemma of Desire, directed by Maria Finitzo | Tickets here
An exploration of “cliteracy,” and the clash between the gender politics and the imperatives of female sexual desire.

Down a Dark Stairwell, directed by Ursula LiangTickets here
In 2014, Peter Liang, a Chinese-American police officer, shot and killed an innocent, unarmed black man named Akai Gurley in the dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. In the midst of high racial tension surrounding police conduct, Liang becomes the first NYPD officer to receive a guilty verdict in such a case in over a decade. The highly publicized incident polarizes New York’s Asian and African American communities’ in this insightful look into the complexities of police reform.

Enemies of the State, directed by Sonia Kennebeck | Tickets here 
An average American family becomes entangled in a bizarre web of espionage and corporate secrets when their hacker son is targeted by the US government.

Landfall, directed by Cecilia Aldarondo | Tickets here
Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, Landfall examines a ruined world at the brink of transformation, spinning a cautionary tale for our times.

Stateless (Apátrida), directed by Michèle Stephenson | Tickets here
Through the grassroots campaign of electoral hopeful Rosa Iris, director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary reveals the depths of racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divide Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Through the Night, directed by Loira Limbal |Tickets here
Through the Night is a verité documentary that explores the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider, whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center in New Rochelle, NY.

The Letter, directed by Maia von Lekow and Chris King | Tickets here
Along the coast of Kenya, a frenzied mix of consumerism and Christianity is turning hundreds of families against their elders, branding them as witches as a means to steal their land. Ninety-two-year-old Margaret Kamango stands accused by her sons, while her strong-willed daughters try to protect her. This dangerous dispute is seen through the eyes of Margaret’s grandson, Karisa, who returns home from the city to investigate and is ultimately forced to choose which side he is on.

Once Upon A Time In Venezuela, directed by Anabel Rodríguez Ríos | Tickets here
Once Upon A Time In Venezuela follows residents of a small fishing village as they prepare for parliamentary election. Once the village of Congo Mirador was prosperous. Now it is decaying and disintegrating—a prophetic reflection of Venezuela itself.

AlumNest Films


AlumNest filmmaker Tiffany Hsiung’s short film Sing Me A Lullaby will make its US premiere; Call Center Blues, directed by Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Geeta Gandbhir will screen in the Shorts program; Dick Johnson is Dead (Kirsten Johnson), A Thousand Cuts (Ramona Diaz), and The Fight (Elyse Steinberg, Eli Despres, Josh Kriegman) are on the DOC NYC Short List for feature films; and our Co-Founder & Senior Creative Consultant Judith Helfand’s film Love & Stuff is an official selection under the Masters program (co-produced with our Co-Founder Julie Parker Benello).

*Language courtesy of DOC NYC. 

Docs by the Dozen in partnership with Mother Jones: “Sanctuary”

Directed by Brett Story,Sanctuary is produced by Chicken & Egg Pictures in partnership with Mother Jones.

Extreme Risk Protection Orders, otherwise known as “red flag” laws, give state authorities the ability to temporarily seize guns from someone deemed to be an immediate threat to themselves or others. On January 1, 2020, Colorado became the 17th state in the US to pass a ‘red flag’ law, provoking a number of county sheriffs opposed to the law to declare their counties “2nd Amendment sanctuaries.” “Sanctuary” follows a handful of Coloradans on multiple sides of this controversial issue as the bill comes into law, including a state legislator and domestic abuse survivor, a member of a local militia, and a Colorado county sheriff. As these individuals address the threats, real and imagined, that the law responds to or poses, “Sanctuary” offers a timely meditation on the meaning of safety in America today.

Directed by Brett Story (New Nest filmmaker), “Sanctuary” is produced by Chicken & Egg Pictures in partnership with Mother Jones.


About Docs by the Dozen: This shorts and series program was designed to engage with the 320+ members of our AlumNest, build meaningful partnerships with like-minded organizations and media companies, and generate artistic and innovative projects that can increase a filmmaker’s financial stability. The program provides talented filmmakers with the opportunity to expand their portfolios, reach broader audiences, and respond to critical social justice issues in a timely way.

About the director: Brett Story is a filmmaker and writer based in Toronto. Her films have screened internationally at festivals such as CPH-DOX, the Viennale, SXSW, True/False, and Sheffield Doc/Fest. Her 2016 feature documentary, The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award, and her most recent feature documentary, The Hottest August, continues to screen around the world. She is an assistant professor in the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University. 

Docs by the Dozen in partnership with Mother Jones: “One Shot One Kill”

Directed by Nancy Schwartzman, One Shot One Kill is produced by Chicken & Egg Pictures in partnership with Mother Jones.

One Shot One Kill” is an immersive verite documentary that follows a father and his two sons as they embark on their annual deer hunting trip in rural Tennessee. This family tradition connects the Neal family to the beauty of the land, the tradition of hunting, and what it means to be both a hunter and gun owner in the United States today.

Directed by Nancy Schwartzman (Nest-supported Roll Red Roll), “One Shot One Kill” is produced by Chicken & Egg Pictures in partnership with Mother Jones.


About Docs by the Dozen: This shorts and series program was designed to engage with the 320+ members of our AlumNest, build meaningful partnerships with like-minded organizations and media companies, and generate artistic and innovative projects that can increase a filmmaker’s financial stability. The program provides talented filmmakers with the opportunity to expand their portfolios, reach broader audiences, and respond to critical social justice issues in a timely way.

About the director: Nancy Schwartzman is a Peabody-nominated filmmaker who uses storytelling and technology to create safer communities for women and girls. Her debut feature, Roll Red Roll, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and screened at over 40 film festivals worldwide, garnering seven best documentary awards. The film was a New York Times Critics’ Pick, with 100% on Rotten Tomatoes; played on POV and BBC; and is streaming in 190 countries on Netflix. She is currently directing an investigative documentary with  The Center for Investigative Reporting, developing nonfiction series with XTR and Blumhouse Productions, and publishing a book with Hachette Book Group.

Docs by the Dozen in partnership with Mother Jones: “I am not going to change 400 years in four.”

Directed by Angela Tucker and Kristi Jacobson, I am not going to change 400 years in four. is produced by Chicken & Egg Pictures in partnership with Mother Jones.

When Satana Deberry took the oath of office as district attorney of Durham County, North Carolina on January 1, 2019, it was a momentous occasion—for the city of Durham and for her, as a Black woman elected to an office historically held by white men whose “tough on crime” policies have devastated communities of color for decades. Now, she faces the complicated realities of seeking to reform a deeply flawed criminal justice system, and a community ravaged by gun violence. Her story is at once inspiring and empowering—and also a call to action, for voters across the nation.

Directed by Angela Tucker and 2016 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Kristi Jacobson, I am not going to change 400 years in four. was produced by Chicken & Egg Pictures through Docs by the Dozen, in partnership with Mother Jones.


About Docs by the Dozen: This shorts and series program was designed to engage with the 320+ members of our AlumNest, build meaningful partnerships with like-minded organizations and media companies, and generate artistic and innovative projects that can increase a filmmaker’s financial stability. The program provides talented filmmakers with the opportunity to expand their portfolios, reach broader audiences, and respond to critical social justice issues in a timely way.

About the directors: Angela Tucker and Kristi Jacobson teamed up to co-direct this powerful short documentary, a natural evolution of each of their bodies of work. Angela Tucker is a New Orleans-based writer, director and Emmy nominated producer. Her latest films include Belly of the Beast, which will broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens in fall 2020, and All Skinfolk, Ain’t Kinfolk (2020, PBS), a short about a mayoral election in New Orleans. Earlier films include narrative feature All Styles (2018, Amazon); Black Folk Don’t, a doc web series that was featured in Time Magazine’s “10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life”; and (A)sexual (2012, Netflix/Hulu). Kristi Jacobson is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, working as a director and producer of features, series and short-form content. Some of her films include Solitary (2017, HBO), which takes an unprecedented look at life inside a supermax prison and is winner of an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Documentary and Independent Spirit Truer Than Fiction Award nominee; Take Back the Harbor (2018, Discovery); A Place at the Table (2012, Magnolia Pictures/ Participant Media); and Cartel Bank, an episode of the hit Netflix Original series Dirty Money (2018).

Nest News: July 27-August 2

The Fight in Digital Theaters July 31!

Project: Hatched grantee The Fight, co-directed by Elyse Steinberg, Eli Despres, and Josh Kriegman, released in virtual cinemas on Friday, July 31. The Fight premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and documents a team of scrappy ACLU lawyers battling Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties.

Get tickets here, and watch the trailer below.


Nest-supported Emmy® Nominations

Congratulations to the following Nest-supported filmmakers and projects on their nominations for the 72nd annual Primetime Emmy® Awards, announced July 28.

American Factory

American Factory is directed by Steven Bognar and 2016 Chicken & Egg Award recipient Julia Reichert and produced by Steve Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert and Chicken & Egg Pictures Co-Founder Julie Parker Benello.

Nominated for: Outstanding Directing For A Documentary/Nonfiction Program (Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar), Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program (Erick Stoll, Aubrey Keith), and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program (Lindsay Utz).

One Child Nation

One Child Nation is directed by 2018 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang and produced by Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Christoph Jorg, Julie Goldman, Carolyn Hepburn, and Christopher Clements.

Nominated for: Exceptional Merit In Documentary Filmmaking.

A special congratulations to AlumNest filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (The Square) on her nomination for Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Special for The Great Hack! The 72nd annual Emmy® Awards ceremony date will be September 20, 2020 at 8:00 pm EDT.