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.

Meet Hana Mire: the Filmmaker Telling the Story of Somalia’s National Women’s Basketball Team

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.

Chicken & Egg Pictures at the Emmys®!

Row 1 (left to right): Among the Believers, The Hand That Feeds, Meet the Patels; Row 2 (left to right): No Más Bebés, The Return, Southwest of Salem; Row 3 (left to right):Thank You For Playing, (T)ERROR, What Tomorrow Brings

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 Patelsdirected 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.

 

Congratulations to our Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017 Winners!  

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*.  

Still from Strong Island

Strong Island
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.

Congratulations Yance!

Still from Unrest

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!

Still from Cocaine Prison

The Fight
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.

Congratulations Violeta!

*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

The Nest at Sheffield Doc/Fest, June 9-14, 2017

Even When I Fall, directed by Kate McLarnon

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:

*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).

Chicken & Egg Pictures Films and Filmmakers in 2017 POV Lineup!

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
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

Motherland, directed by Ramona Diaz

Motherland
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

Cameraperson, directed by Kirsten Johnson.

Cameraperson
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.

Chicken & Egg Pictures-Supported Filmmakers Win at Peabody Awards

Three Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported filmmakers accepted Peabody Awards this year. A big congratulations to:

Deborah S. Esquenazi for Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four

Dawn Porter (2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient) for Trapped

Nanfu Wang (2017 Accelerator Lab grantee) for Hooligan Sparrow*

Read more about these films and the other recipients in their company on the Peabody website.

*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not fund the film Hooligan Sparrow, but supports director Nanfu Wang as a 2017 Accelerator Lab grantee. Nanfu has also received the LUNA Chicken & Egg Pictures Award at 2017 SXSW Film Festival (read more here).

Chicken & Egg Pictures-Supported Films and Filmmakers at 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

We are proud to announce this year’s Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films and filmmakers at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.

The Departure, directed by Lana Wilson

The Departure (World Documentary Competition)
Directed by Lana Wilson

I Am Evidence* (Spotlight Documentary)
Directed by Trish Adlesic and 2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient Geeta Gandbhir

Love the Sinner (Shorts: Viewfinder, World Premiere)
Directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Jessica Devaney

Tree, by Milica Zec and Winslow Porter

Tree (Virtual Arcade, New York Premiere)
Project Creators: Winslow Turner Porter and Milica Zec

Unrest* (Virtual Arcade, World Premiere)
Project Creators: Arnaud Colinart, Jennifer Brea, Amaury La Burthe
Key Collaborators: Diana Barrett (Fledgling Fund), Lindsey Dryden (Little By Little Films)

For more information and the full roster of films at the Tribeca Film Festival this year, please visit the Tribeca website.

*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not fund the film I Am Evidence, but supports director Geeta Gandbhir as a 2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Awardee; and did not support the Unrest VR experience, but is a supporter of Unrest the feature-length film by Jennifer Brea.

Chicken & Egg Pictures announces the five recipients of the second annual Breakthrough Filmmaker Award

Breakthrough_YW_LM_Sundance_2017We are pleased and proud to announce  the recipients of the second year of the Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. The five chosen filmmakers are Geeta Gandbhir (Prison Dogs), Kirsten Johnson (Cameraperson), Penny Lane (NUTS!), Grace Lee (American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs), and Dawn Porter (Trapped). This award consists of a $50,000 unrestricted grant and a year-long creative support and mentorship program tailored to each filmmaker’s individual goals.

The Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award responds to the reality that only a few women non-fiction directors in the U.S. are able to work full-time as independent storytellers. The program recognizes and elevates five experienced women directors with unique voices who are poised to reach new heights and to continue to be strong filmmaker-advocates for urgent issues and creative visions.

“After a successful inaugural year, we welcome this new cohort of talented women into the program,” said Jenni Wolfson, Executive Director of Chicken & Egg Pictures . “Through our investment in these filmmakers, Chicken & Egg Pictures affirms its commitment to supporting women from a diversity of backgrounds, with powerful voices, who are driving change through storytelling. They are creative risk-takers who have made their mark and are ready to push the boundaries even further and continue to bring to the forefront critical issues and stories.”

Recipients of the Chicken & Egg Pictures 2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award were chosen through an international, confidential nomination process.

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

2017 BREAKTHROUGH FILMMAKER AWARD RECIPIENTS

Geeta Gandbhir

Geeta began her career in editing. As an editor, she has won two Emmy® Awards. Her latest feature documentary, Prison Dogs, which she co -directed with Perri Peltz, premiered at the 2016Tribeca Film Festival. Her film with Sharmeen Obaid -Chinoy, A Journey of A Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival; won the Jury award for Best Documentary at The Bentonville Film Festival; and won the Humanitarian Award at the River Run Film Festival. She co-created and was a director on a series about race for The New York Times Op-Docs entitled The Conversation, which won an Online Journalism Award. Her film with Ms. Peltz, Remembering the Artist, Robert De Niro, Sr., for HBO, premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. She is currently finishing a feature documentary on a bomb disposal unit in Pakistan.

Kirsten Johnson

Drawing on footage she shot for a myriad of documentary directors over the last 25 years, Kirsten Johnson’s Cameraperson premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival; won the Cinema Eye Awards for Best Documentary, Best Editing, Best Cinematography; and the National Board of Review Freedom of Expression Award. Widely reviewed as one of the top films of 2016, it received awards at nine international festivals, was nominated for the Gotham Independent Film Awards, the IDA Documentary Awards, the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards , the Independent Spirit Awards, and is currently shortlisted for an Academy Award®. Johnson’s short film, The Above, was nominated for 2016 Best Short Film Award by the IDA. Her interest in image-making, collaboration with documentary filmmakers, and the ethical dilemmas faced by camerapeople around the world is ongoing.

Penny Lane

Penny Lane’s most recent feature, NUTS!, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival where it won a Special Jury Prize for Editing. Her debut feature documentary, Our Nixon, premiered at the 2013 Rotterdam International Film Festival, had its North American premiere at SXSW, won the Ken Burns Award for Best of the Festival at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and was selected as the closing night film at New Directors/New Films. Lane was named one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2012 and “Most Badass” at the Iowa City Documentary Film Festival in 2009. Film festival screenings span the independent and experimental film worlds, including Sundance, Rotterdam, Images, IMPAKT, Hot Docs, Full Frame, CPH:DOX, and Oberhausen. She is currently a professor in the Department of Art and Art History at Colgate University.

Grace Lee

Grace Lee is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker whose work explores questions of history, race, politics, and community. She directed American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, which won six festival audience awards and aired on the POV documentary series. Other directing credits include The Grace Lee Project, Janeane From Des Moines, the Emmy®-nominated Makers: Women and Politics, and Off the Menu: Asian America. Lee’s work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Center for Asian American Media, Film Independent, and the Sundance Institute, where she was a Women at Sundance Fellow. She recently co-founded the Asian American Documentary Network and is currently in production on Ktown92, an interactive documentary that explores the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles riots through the eyes of the greater Koreatown community.

Dawn Porter

Dawn Porter is a documentary filmmaker whose first feature, Gideon’s Army, won the Sundance Film Festival Editing Award in 2013 and later broadcast on HBO. The film was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and an Emmy. Dawn’s other films have appeared on PBS, OWN and the Discovery Channel. In 2015, Porter interviewed President Barack Obama for Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper. Dawn’s latest feature project, Trapped, explores the impact of laws regulating abortion clinics in the South. Trapped premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking. In 2016, Porter was named to Variety’s “10 Documakers to Watch” and received the Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence at DOC NYC’s Visionaries Tribute. She also recently created a short film for The New Yorker Presents, a digital series executive produced by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney.

Five Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees set for World Premieres at Sundance 2017

We’re beaming with pride for our grantees who will be presenting the world premieres of their projects at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival this January. Congratulations to Jennifer Brea, Ramona Diaz, Yance Ford, Sabaah Jordan with Damon Davis, and Milica Zec with Winslow Porter!

Canary in a Coal Mine
Unrest

Unrest (Jennifer Brea)

Jennifer, a Harvard Ph.D. 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

Strong Island (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.

 

whose-streets
Whose Streets?

Whose Streets? (Sabaah Jordan and Damon Davis)

A firsthand look at how the murder of a teenage boy became the last straw for a community under siege, Whose Streets? is a story of love, loss, conflict, and ambition. Set in Ferguson, MO, the film follows the journey of everyday people whose lives are intertwined with a burgeoning national movement for black liberation.

 

thebill_maternityward2
Motherland

Motherland (Ramona Diaz)

One of the world’s poorest and most populous countries, the Philippines, struggles with reproductive health policy—both in the legislature where laws are in debate, and in a hospital with the busiest maternity ward on the planet.

 

tree-02-final
 Tree

Tree (Milica Zec and Winslow Porter)

A virtual experience that transforms you into a rainforest tree. With your arms as branches and body as the trunk, you experience the tree’s growth from a seedling into its fullest form and witness its fate firsthand.

 

This year’s Sundance Film Festival is January 19–29, 2017. For the full program and schedule for the upcoming festival, visit the Sundance website.