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The Nest at the 2019 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

The 16th Annual Big Sky Documentary Film Festival kicked off last Friday, February 15 and will continue to Sunday, February 24 in Missoula, Montana. The festival hosts over 200 visiting artists, presents an average of 150 nonfiction films, and we are egg-static to report that seven Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films were included in the line-up.

Councilwoman, directed by Margo Guernsey
World Premiere: Friday,  February 22 at 5:00 pm — Elks Lodge

A hotel housekeeper, from the Dominican Republic, has won 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. She falls in love and gets married, but the relationship falls apart. That doesn’t stop her from gaining confidence in her new political role. She manages complicated neighborhood dynamics, and takes on issues of tax equity and fair wages. Despite her leadership, she faces a tight re-election campaign when her contenders suggest a more traditional politician would do a better job.

Blowin’ Up, directed by Stephanie Wang-Breal
Northwest Premiere: Thursday, Feb. 21 at 8:45pm — MCT Center for the Performing

Blowin’ Up looks at sex work, prostitution, and human trafficking through the lens of New York State’s criminal justice system. The film captures the growing pains of our nation’s first human trafficking intervention court in Queens, New York, and how we define trafficking and prostitution from many different perspectives: the criminal justice system, the social welfare system, and, most importantly, the women and girls who are at the center of it all.

Mudflow Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander

Grit, directed by Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander
Montana Premiere:  Thursday, February 21 at 9:15 pm — Elks Lodge

Grit is the story of a huge, toxic mudflow in Indonesia widely believed to be caused by shoddy drilling practices. The mud volcano has been erupting violently for the past eight years, burying 17 villages and permanently displacing 60,000 people. Grit follows ordinary Indonesians seeking justice for this disaster during a national election where one presidential candidate has promised restitution — and the other has not.

Roll Red Roll Nancy Schwartzman

Roll Red Roll, directed by Nancy Schwartzman
Montana Premiere: Sunday, February 17 at 1:30pm

In small-town Ohio, at a pre-season football party, a horrible incident took place. What transpired would garner national attention and result in the sentencing of two key offenders.  Roll Red Rolle explores the complex motivations of both perpetrators and bystanders in this story, to unearth the attitudes at the core of their behavior. The Steubenville story acts as a cautionary tale of what can happen when adults look the other way and deny that rape culture exists. With unprecedented access to police documents, exhibits and evidence, the documentary feature unflinchingly asks: “why didn’t anyone stop it?”

A Thousand Girls Like Me 2016 Diversity Fellows Initiative Sahra Mani

A Thousand Girls Like Me, directed by 
Montana Premiere: Sunday, Feb. 24 at 8:45 pm — Elks Lodge

When a 23-year-old Afghan woman, Khatera, confronts the will of her family and the traditions of her country to seek justice for years of sexual abuse from her father, she sheds light on the faulty Afghan judicial system and the women it rarely protects.

Tre Maison Dasan Denali Tiller 2015 Accelerator Lab

Tre Maison Dasan, directed by Denali Tiller
Montana Premiere: Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 6:15pm — Elks Lodge

Tre Maison Dasan is a story that explores parental incarceration through the eyes of three boys—Tre, Maison, and Dasan. Following their interweaving trajectories through boyhood marked by the criminal justice system, and told directly through the child’s perspective, the film unveils the challenges of growing up and what it means to become a man in America.

Warrior Women Christina D. King Elizabeth Castle 2017 Accelerator Lab

Warrior Women, directed by 

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.

 

Meet our Newest Nest Board Members: Leslie Belzberg and Marjan Safinia

Chicken & Egg Pictures proudly announces two new members to our Board of Directors: Leslie Belzberg and Marjan Safinia. Members of our Board of Directors serve an official role for Chicken & Egg Pictures, offering constructive feedback, guidance, and independent oversight of our work.

Leslie Belzberg

Leslie Belzberg (pictured left) currently oversees all television and theatrical productions for Gaumont USA as Senior Vice President, Production. Prior to Gaumont, Leslie was a consultant for Blumhouse Television and head of production at Miramax and Endemol-Shine North America.

Before moving into high-level executive roles at major studios, Belzberg was an independent producer, most well-known for her storied collaboration with director John Landis. Together, they co-created St. Clare Entertainment, a TV production company. She also produced many of his films including Coming to AmericaThree AmigosBlues Brothers 2000Beverly Hills Cop IIISusan’s PlanThe StupidsOscarSpies Like Us, and Into the Night. Belzberg has also produced Academy Award winning films such as Crazy Heart, which earned Jeff Bridges a Best Actor win, and the documentary Genocide, also produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, now the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Leslie earned an MBA from Fordham University in New York and a BA in English Literature and Contemporary Drama from York University in Toronto.

Marjan Safinia

Marjan Safinia (pictured right) is an Iranian documentary filmmaker whose films examine identity, community, and social justice. Her current project And She Could Be Next (in production) is about women of color running for political office to claim political power for a rising new American majority. Marjan’s feature documentary Seeds tells the story of ten brave teenagers from the world’s most troubled conflict zones living side-by-side for one life-changing summer. Her first film But You Speak Such Good English is a half hour documentary which explores the first-generation immigrant experience from an insider perspective.

Collectively, Marjan’s films have played at over 100 international film festivals and broadcast in North America, Europe, and across the Arab world. She has produced and directed work for Co-Founder of Google Sergey Brin, the Barack Obama administration, and Next Generation in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. Her work has been supported by the IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund and Sundance Institute. She is also a Sundance Catalyst Fellow.

Until 2018, Marjan was the longest-serving President of the Board of Directors of the International Documentary Association (IDA), also the only woman of color to hold the position since the IDA was founded in 1982. She also co-hosts The D-Word, the preeminent online community for documentary professionals. Marjan is a regular juror, programmer, speaker and connector of all things documentary.

Welcome Leslie and Marjan! To learn more about the rest of our Board, see here.

2019 Sundance Festival Winners

A huge congratulations to Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films and filmmakers who won big at Sundance this year:

One Child Nation
Dirs. Nanfu Wang & Jialing Zhang
Grand Jury Prize – US Documentary Competition

Always in Season
Dir. Jacqueline Olive
Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency – US Documentary Competition

American Factory
Dir. Julia Reichert & Steven Bognar
Directing – US Documentary Competition

It was a big weekend for these incredible filmmakers in more ways than one, with Amazon acquiring One Child Nation and Netflix acquiring American Factory. And a special congratulations to former Nest grantees Rachel Lears (dir. of Knock Down the House – US Documentary Competition Audience Award), Alma Har’el (dir. of Honey Boy – US Dramatic CompetitionSpecial Jury Award for Vision and Craft); and Laura Nix (executive producer of Sea of Shadows – World Cinema Documentary Audience Award).

We couldn’t be prouder of our Nest friends. Learn more about American Factory, Always in Season, and One Child Nation—and the amazing women that made them—through these reads:

‘One Child Nation’: How Nanfu Wang Defied China to Expose Its Dark Side – Indiewire

Sundance 2019 Women Directors: Meet Nanfu Wang – “One Child Nation”– Women and Hollywood

Sundance 2019 Women Directors: Meet Jacqueline Olive – “Always in Season”– Women and Hollywood

Sundance 2019: Always in Season an exceptional documentary on communities of memory, history of lynchings – The Utah Review

‘American Factory’: Sundance Review – Screen Daily

Sundance: Netflix Nabs ‘American Factory’ Doc for $3 Million – The Hollywood Reporter

Announcing our 2019 Chicken & Egg Award recipients!


Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to announce the fourth cohort of our Chicken & Egg Award—previously known as Breakthrough Filmmaker Award—which recognizes and elevates five experienced documentary filmmakers poised to reach new heights in their careers and become strong filmmaker advocates for critical and timely issues.

This year’s Chicken & Egg Award recipients are directors of Peabody Award- and Emmy® Award-winning films; the characters in their films—like a Yazidi human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner; a young woman in Gaza making a choice between love, family, and freedom; and a punk rocker-turned-Buddhist monk—have inspired hearts and minds; and their work has been featured at Tribeca, Sundance, Berlinale, and other international festivals.

The award comes with a $50,000 unrestricted grant that gives its recipient more financial freedom in planning her career, and year-long individualized mentorship geared towards working to achieve the professional goals each filmmaker sets for herself.

 

Julia Bacha

 

Julia Bacha is a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, Guggenheim fellow, and Creative Director at Just Vision. Her directing credits include Budrus (2009), My Neighbourhood (2012), and Naila and the Uprising (2017). Her work has played at the Berlin and Tribeca Film Festivals, as well as Palestinian refugee camps and the United States Congress. Julia is a Term Member at the Council on Foreign Relations, a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum, and a TED speaker.

 

Alexandria Bombach

 

Alexandria Bombach is an award-winning director, cinematographer, and editor from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her feature-length documentary, On Her Shoulders (2018), won Best Directing in the US Documentary Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, is nominated for two Spirit Awards, and was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Her first feature-length documentary, Frame by Frame (2015) premiered at SXSW and went on to win over 25 festival awards. Alexandria is the founder of the Santa Fe Editing & Writing Residency and a 2019 Sundance Institute Momentum Fellow.

 

Stephanie Wang-Breal

 

A first-generation Chinese American from Youngstown, Ohio, Stephanie Wang-Breal uses film as a tool to subvert the narrative. She’s directed five feature length films: the award-winning Wo Ai Ni Mommy (2010), Tough Love (2014), and Blowin’ Up (2018); and directed commercials and short form content with talents and brands such as Tan Dun, Planned Parenthood, Minwax, ESPN, Tiffany & Co., Goldman Sachs, Verifone, and Apple. Stephanie’s independent work has been supported and recognized by the Sundance Institute, the Ford Foundation, and featured in the Tribeca Film Festival.

 

Lana Wilson

 

Lana Wilson is an Emmy® Award-winning and two-time Spirit Award-nominated director. Her most recent film, The Departure (2017), premiered at Tribeca, had a critically acclaimed theatrical release, and was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. Her previous film, After Tiller (2013), premiered at Sundance and went on to win an Emmy® Award for Best Documentary. It was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award, four Cinema Eye Honors, and the Ridenhour Prize.

 

Malika Zouhali-Worrall

 

Malika Zouhali-Worrall is an Emmy® Award-winning director and editor. Her directing credits include Call Me Kuchu, which premiered at the 2012 Berlinale and went on to win more than 20 festival awards, and Thank You For Playing (2015), which received an Emmy® for Outstanding Arts & Culture Documentary. Malika’s work has been supported by Sundance, Tribeca, Firelight Media, and the United Nations. She is a San Francisco Film/Catapult Documentary Fellow and a Chaz and Roger Ebert Directing Fellow.

For additional information on Chicken & Egg Pictures and this award, please visit our Programs page.

Announcing our 2019 (Egg)celerator Lab!


Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to announce the fourth cohort of our (Egg)celerator Lab—previously known as Accelerator Lab—for emerging filmmakers. The (Egg)celerator Lab program is focused on identifying and supporting women and gender non-conforming nonfiction directors working on their first or second feature-length documentary.

This year’s (Egg)celerator Lab cohort is made up of 90% women directors of color; six first-time filmmakers and four second-time filmmakers; includes three directors telling LGBTQ stories; hails from seven different countries, including Colombia, Pakistan, and South Africa; and consists of women who have worked across the documentary landscape—from audio producers to cinematographers.

Loglines of the 2019 (Egg)celerator Lab grantees’ projects are below. Click on the project title to get to know these filmmakers and the projects they will be working on during their program year.

 

Milisuthando (Working Title) Milisuthando Bongela

Milisuthando (Working Title), directed by Milisuthando Bongela (SOUTH AFRICA)

In this coming-of-age story, Milisuthando—a black South African unaware of apartheid until it ended—explores how blacks and whites first lived together after 342 years of racial segregation.

 

Nausheen Dadabhoy An Act of Worship Chicken & Egg Pictures Diversity Fellows Initiative 2018 unnamed-5.jpgAn Act of Worship, directed by Nausheen Dadabhoy (US/PAKISTAN)

An Act of Worship follows a new generation of Muslim-American women activists who have been galvanized into action while anti-Muslim sentiments are on the rise.

 

#Mickey Betzabé García 2019 Accelerator Lab#Mickey, directed by Betzabé García (MEXICO)

Born in Sinaloa, Mickey found in internet a platform where she can explore her transgender identity and deal with her homophobic environment.

 

 

Paths of Fire and Water, directed by Viviana Gómez Echeverry (COLOMBIA)

Camilo is a young black man adopted by an indigenous family, who is now looking for his biological mother to understand who he really is.

 

We Are Inside Farah Kassem 2019 Eggcelerator LabWe Are Inside, directed by Farah Kassem (LEBANON)

Returning to Mustapha’s house in radicalised Tripoli, Farah decides to join her father’s all male poetry club: a living memorial of past times.

 

 

Untitled PRC Project Jessica Kingdon 2019 Accelerator LabUntitled PRC Project, directed by Jessica Kingdon (US)

Untitled PRC Project is a kaleidoscopic journey through China’s industrial supply chain, revealing paradoxes born from prosperity of the world’s emergent superpower.

 

MAMA BEARS DARESHA KYI 2019 Eggcelerator LabMama Bears, directed by Daresha Kyi (US)

Mama Bears explores the many ways in which the lives of conservative, Christian mothers are utterly transformed when they decide to accept their LGBTQ children.

 

Silent Beauty Jasmin Mara LópezSilent Beauty, directed by Jasmin López (MEXICO/US)

Silent Beauty is an autobiographical exploration of one woman’s family history with child sexual abuse and a culture of silence.

 

 

PRAY AWAY Kristine StolakisPray Away, directed by Kristine Stolakis (US)

Pray Away tells the story of the history and continuation of the “pray the gay away” or ex-gay movement.

 

 

Sara: A Fearless Dream Sara Khaki Mohammad Reza Eyni (Egg)celerator Lab 2019

 

Sara: A Fearless Dream, co-directed by Sara Khaki (pictured above) and Mohammad Reza Eyni (pictured below) (IRAN/US)

 

 

Sara takes the first council seat as the first female in her native male-dominated Iranian village. Sara: A Fearless Dream captures her as she takes a dangerous road to success.

 

 

Our next Open Call for the (Egg)celerator Lab will take place in the spring of 2020. For additional information on the program, including application criteria, please visit our Programs page.

* The parentheses next to the directors’ names indicate the directors’ country or countries of origin.

Dark Money and On Her Shoulders on the 91st Oscars® Documentary Shortlist

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences recently announced their  shortlist for documentary features in consideration for the 91st Oscars® and two Nest-supported films are on the list: Dark Money, directed by Kimberly Reed and On Her Shoulders, directed by Alexandria Bombach. We were egg-static to see these projects included, and that eight out of the fifteen films listed are women-directed docs.

Dark Money Kimberly Reed Chicken & Egg Pictures
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.

Dark Money screened at the AFI Docs Film Festival last summer, had its broadcast premiere on POV on PBS,  and was also featured on the International Documentary Association’s shortlist for top feature of 2018 as well.

On Her Shoulders Alexandria Bombach
On Her Shoulders, directed by Alexandria Bombach

This empowering documentary presents 23-year-old Nadia Murad, a Yazidi genocide survivor determined to tell the world her story. Determined advocate and reluctant celebrity, she becomes the voice of her people and their best hope to spur the world to action.

On Her Shoulders is the 2018 SXSW LUNA/Chicken & Egg Pictures Award recipientOn Her Shoulders was also listed as a top award contender for the documentary feature category on the DOC NYC shortlist and received the 2018 Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2018 Camden International Film Festival (CIFF).

In addition to being included with the top documentaries of the year, Dark Money and On Her Shoulders will be featured in the OSCARS Spotlight: Documentary Feature Shortlist theatrical release, an opportunity to see all the Academy’s nominations shortlist.

The films will screen theatrically in 13 cities across the United States through Monday, January 21. See here to find a screening.

Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced Tuesday, January 22, and the Oscars will be held Sunday, February 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, televised live by ABC.

Join our growing Nest with three new job openings

We are delighted to announce that we are growing our staff with a few newly created positions! If you or someone you know might be interested in joining a creative team that is truly passionate about advancing our mission of supporting women nonfiction filmmakers globally, consider the following full-time staff positions: 

Also meet our newest member of the team, Kelly Duane de la Vega, Program & Partnerships Manager!

Kelly Duane De La Vega

Kelly is a director, producer, writer, and impact campaign strategist. Her feature documentaries have screened at film festivals worldwide, opened theatrically and broadcast nationally on POV/PBS and the Documentary Channel.Her most recent film, a Peabody Award Finalist, The Return, won the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary, screened on Capitol Hill and in prisons across the country. She has produced short-format work for The New York Times, Mother Jones, IFC, and Discovery, among others.

As Program & Partnerships Manager, Kelly has an integral role in several of our soon-to-be-launched programs in support of our goal to provide creative, professional, and financial support to filmmakers at strategic junctures in their careers.

To learn more about her, visit our team page

Jacqueline Olive: Dozen Days of Filmmakers — Day 12

 

Chicken & Egg Pictures is celebrating the holiday season by featuring a dozen of our supported women nonfiction filmmakers.

Jacqueline Olive Always In Season 2018 Accelerator LabJacqueline Olive is an independent filmmaker and immersive media producer with more than a decade of experience in journalism and film. She co-directed and produced the award-winning short documentary, Black To Our Roots, which broadcast on PBS World. Jacqueline has been a Sundance Documentary Edit & Story Lab Fellow, a Sundance Documentary Film Program Fellow, and Sundance Music & Sound Design Lab fellow.

Always in Season 2018 Accelerator Lab Grantee Jacqueline Olive
Always in Season, directed by Jacqueline Olive

She also received the Emerging Filmmakers of Color Award from International Documentary Association and the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation. Jacqueline has been a immersive media fellow with the Bay Area Video Coalition Institute for New Media Technologies and Mediamaker Fellows, the Black Public Media New Media Institute, and most recently, the Open Immersion VR Lab sponsored by the Ford Foundation, National Film Board of Canada, and the Canadian Film Centre. Jacqueline has an MA from the University of Florida Documentary Institute and previously worked on the production team of the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary series, Independent Lens.

Her debut feature documentary and 2018 Accelerator Lab grantee,  Always In Season, will premiere in competition at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.

Always in Season 2018 Accelerator Lab Jacqueline Olive
Always in Season, directed by Jacqueline Olive

Always In Season explores the lingering impact of more than a century of lynching African Americans and connects this form of historic racial terrorism to racial violence today. The film centers on the case of Lennon Lacy, an African American teen who was found hanging from a swing set in Bladenboro, North Carolina, on August 29, 2014. Despite inconsistencies in the case, local officials quickly ruled Lennon’s death a suicide, but his mother, Claudia, believes Lennon was lynched. Claudia moves from paralyzing grief to leading the fight for justice for her son. 

Jacqueline is currently producing a VR companion to Always In Season that uses 360° video and computer-generated imagery (CGI) to explore themes of dehumanization and violence, offering strategies for moving confidently through the racialized public spaces that black women navigate daily.

 

Post by Morgan Lee Hulquist.

Denali Tiller: Dozen Days of Filmmakers — Day 11

Chicken & Egg Pictures is celebrating the holiday season by featuring a dozen of our supported women nonfiction filmmakers.

Denali Tiller Tre Maison DasanDenali Tiller is an artist and filmmaker named one of 110 “Filmmakers To Watch” by Variety Magazine in 2015 for her short film Sons and Daughters of the Incarcerated — which grew into her feature documentary, Tre Maison Dasan.

She has worked with the US Agency for International Development, and is currently adjunct faculty at Rhode Island School of Design. Through her work, Denali is interested in empowering artists in systemic thinking, social justice, and activism. She is most passionate about children and youth advocacy, and how we raise boys in America.

Tre Maison Dasan Denali Tiller 2015 Accelerator Lab
Tre Maison Dasan, directed by Denali Tiller

Tre Maison Dasan is a story that explores parental incarceration through the eyes of three boys—Tre, Maison, and Dasan. Following their interweaving trajectories through boyhood marked by the criminal justice system, and told directly through the child’s perspective, the film unveils the challenges of growing up and what it means to become a man in America.

“We so often we tell stories about children from a top down perspective, informed by what we (adults) “know” about their experiences and psychology, and consequently how their lives will unfold. As Tre, Maison and Dasan taught me about their worlds, I recognized that there was a desperate need for a film that allows children to speak for themselves – particularly children of color – to capture the power in their own emotional intelligence, and elevate their voices in a way that fully represents their lives as they experience them.”—Denali Tiller, Director’s Statement

Tre Maison Dasan participated in the 2016 Accelerator Lab.

 

 

Post by Morgan Lee Hulquist.

Sonia Kennebeck: Dozen Days of Filmmakers — Day 10

“Films, especially documentaries, are recording and preserving current events for future generations. It is important that our female and diverse voices, stories and perspectives are part of this collection of visual history, and that includes films about major political issues, war and national security.” – Sonia Kennebeck, Indiewire

Chicken & Egg Pictures is celebrating the holiday season by featuring a dozen of our supported women nonfiction filmmakers.

Enemies of the State Sonia Kennebeck 2018 Accelerator LabSonia Kennebeck is an independent documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist with more than 15 years of directing and producing experience. She has directed eight television documentaries and more than 50 investigative reports. Foreign Policy recognized Kennebeck as one of “100 Leading Global Thinkers of 2016,” and Filmmaker Magazine selected her as one of “25 New Faces of Independent Film.”

National Bird, her first feature documentary, follows the dramatic journey of three whistleblowers who are determined to break the silence around one of the most controversial current affairs issues of our time: the secret US drone war.  National Bird premiered at Berlinale, was selected for Tribeca Film Festival, Sheffield Doc/Fest, and IDFA, and was nominated for the News and Documentary Emmy® Award for Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary. 

Enemies of the State Sonia Kennebeck 2018 Accelerator Lab
Enemies of the State, directed by Sonia Kennebeck

Her second feature, Enemies of the State, is a participant of the 2018 Accelerator Lab.

Enemies of the State is the story of an average American family who become entangled in a bizarre web of espionage and corporate secrets when their hacker son is targeted by the US government.

 

 

Post by Morgan Lee Hulquist.