Four Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films are heading to the Tribeca Film Festival (April 18-29) this year. Congratulations to all the filmmakers for their exciting premieres!
Blowin’ Up by Stephanie Wang-Breal
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.
The Feeling of Being Watched by Assia Boundaoui
In the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago where director Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers hundreds of pages of declassified FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counterterrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11––code-named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal.” With unprecedented access, The Feeling of Being Watched weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker’s examination of why her community fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia struggles to disrupt the government secrecy shrouding what happened to her neighborhood in the 90’s and probes why her community feels like they’re still being watched today. In the process, she confronts long-hidden truths about the FBI’s relationship to her community. The Feeling of Being Watched follows Assia as she pieces together this secret FBI operation, while grappling with the effects of a lifetime of surveillance on herself and her family.
Roll Red Roll by Nancy Schwartzman
Go behind the headlines of notorious high school sexual assault to witness the social media fueled “boys will be boys” culture that let it happen.
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. As amateur crime blogger Alex Goddard uncovers disturbing evidence on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter, documenting the assault of a teenage girl by members of the beloved high school football team, questions linger around the collusion of teen and adult bystanders. Roll Red Roll 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?”
United Skates by Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler
When America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community of thousands battle in a racially charged environment to save an underground subculture–-one that has remained undiscovered by the mainstream for generations, yet has given rise to some of the world’s greatest musical talent.
And a special congratulations to filmmaker Madeleine Sackler for It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It, who was previously supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures for her film, Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus.
The Tribeca Film Festival’s full program will be available March 15.
Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to announce the third cohort of our Accelerator Lab for first- and second-time filmmakers!
The Accelerator Lab is focused on identifying and supporting women nonfiction directors working on their first or second feature-length documentary. This program brings together ten projects helmed by first- or second-time directors, with a special focus on underrepresented voices.
“Community-building is key to this program,” says Chicken & Egg Pictures Program Director Lucila Moctezuma. “While the Accelerator Lab for first- and second-time filmmakers certainly helps women filmmakers to enter the industry pipeline, it also provides them with a community of support that helps them to stay in the pipeline. The reality of being a film director is that it can often feel daunting and isolating. By explicitly encouraging peer-to-peer mentorship among our cohort, we provide emerging filmmakers with a chance to bond with and learn from one another, to help one another carve a space for themselves in the industry, and to equip them with the strength of a community they can rely on throughout their careers.”
Synopses of the 2018 Accelerator Lab grantees’ compelling projects are below, and you can get to know the directors by viewing the linked project pages. Grantees will work on these films during their program year.
Our next open call for the Accelerator Lab will take place in the spring of 2018. For additional information on the program, including application criteria, please visit our Programs page.
Congratulations to our newest grantees, and wishing you a fantastic year!
A Cops and Robbers Story, directed by Ilinca Calugareanu (ROMANIA / UK)
Corey Pegues, one of the highest ranking black executives in the NYPD, reveals a few months after retirement that before joining the NYPD he worked the streets dealing crack cocaine for one of the most notorious drug gangs in the US, the Supreme Team. To many he is either a perp in cop costume or a criminal turned hero. But who is the real Corey Pegues?
People’s Hospital, directed by Siyi Chen (CHINA / US)
As the Chinese society criticizes dysfunctional hospitals, a doctor’s daughter revisits the small-town hospital where she grew up—this time with a camera, in the middle of a chaotic ER.
Enemies of the State, directed by Sonia Kennebeck (MALAYSIA / GERMANY / US)
An average American family becomes entangled in a bizarre web of espionage and corporate secrets when their hacker son is targeted by the U.S. government.
The Youth, directed by Eunice Lau (SINGAPORE / US) and Arthur Nazaryan (US)
The Youth is an unflinching look at the forces that drive one to adopt an extreme ideology. Through the eyes of a father who seeks to understand how his son is radicalized by the propaganda of the Islamic State Army, The Youth reveals how a Muslim American family is affected by the geopolitics and polemics that fuel the resurgence of reactionary and right-wing political movements. Through this intimate lens on the Somali community in Minnesota, The Youth explores the racism and prejudices against immigrants, the rise of radical Islam, and what it means to be Muslim in contemporary America.
Number 387, directed by Madeleine Leroyer (FRANCE)
This is the story of a Greek physician who collects pendants and bracelets.
This is the story of an Italian woman who has been fighting for 15 years to “make bodies talk.”
This is the story of those who watch over the forgotten migrants.
Since the beginning of 2016, 3,649 migrants have died while attempting to reach Europe by sea. 3,649 names, the vast majority of which have been diluted in the deep blue waters of the Mediterranean.
What happens to the dead? Who identifies them?
What do the mothers, the brothers do to try to find their missing loved ones?
For years, medical examiners have been trying to give back a name, dignity, a memory to these forgotten souls.
This film tells their story.
Electric Malady, directed by Marie Lidén (SWEDEN / UK)
Director Marie Lidén grew up with a mother who suffered from an illness that the world did not recognize—Electrosensitivity. Years later, in a technologically advanced world, Marie gives a poignant account of the lives of two electrosensitives: William, a 41-year-old Swedish man, and Tyler, a 13-year-old Canadian boy. Using Marie’s own family story as a thread, the film explores William and Tyler’s isolated worlds and their families’ unrelenting commitment to help their children.
Through The Night, directed by Loira Limbal (US)
To make ends meet, Americans are working longer hours across multiple jobs. This modern reality of non-stop work has resulted in an unexpected phenomenon: the flourishing of 24-hour daycare centers. 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.
Always in Season, directed by Jacqueline Olive (US)
As the trauma of a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present, Always in Season follows relatives of the perpetrators and victims in communities across the country who’re seeking justice and reconciliation in the midst of racial profiling and police shootings. In Bladenboro, NC, the film connects historic racial terrorism to racial violence today with the story of Claudia Lacy who grieves as she fights to get an FBI investigation opened into the death of her seventeen-year-old son, Lennon Lacy, found hanging from a swing set on August 29, 2014. Claudia, like many others, believes Lennon was lynched.
Reentry (working title), directed by Jennifer Redfearn (US)
Women are now the fastest growing population in the U.S. criminal justice system, increasing at nearly double the rate of men. The majority of women going into prison are serving time for drug related charges. This immersive, character-driven film follows three women—who are part of a new reentry program in Cleveland, Ohio—as they prepare to leave prison, reunite with their children, and find jobs after serving time for drug related charges.
Writing With Fire, directed by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh (INDIA)
In one of the most socially oppressive and patriarchal states of India emerges a newspaper run entirely by rural women. Meera, its popular reporter, decides to magnify the paper’s impact with an audacious move—to transform from print to a digital news agency. Working in media dark villages, mocked and discouraged, this is the story of a visionary woman’s feisty spirit in building what will probably be the world’s first digital news agency run entirely by rural women.
Two Nest-supported films, Motherland (directed by Ramona Diaz) and The Departure (directed by Lana Wilson), have been nominated for Best Documentary at the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards! Congratulations and best of luck, Lana and Ramona!
Motherland, directed by 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.
The Departure, directed by Lana Wilson
Ittetsu Nemoto, a former punk-turned-Buddhist-priest in Japan, has made a career out of helping suicidal people find reasons to live. But this work has come increasingly at the cost of his own family and health, as he refuses to draw lines between those he counsels and himself. The Departure captures Nemoto at a crossroads, when his growing self-destructive tendencies lead him to confront the same question his patients ask him: what makes life worth living?
If you are registered to vote in the Film Independent Spirit Awards, remember to cast your vote by Friday, February 16.
Two Nest-supported filmmakers’ films have been nominated for the 90th Academy Awards®, and we could not be more excited!
First-time filmmaker Yance Ford’s Nest-supported film Strong Island is nominated for Best Documentary (Feature).
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.
2016 Breakthrough Award Recipient Elaine McMillion Sheldon‘s film Heroin(e) is nominated for Documentary (Short Subject).
“Once a bustling industrial town, Huntington, West Virginia has become the epicenter of America’s modern opioid epidemic, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness, and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Hollow) shows a different side of the fight against drugs—one of hope.”*
Many joyful congratulations, and best of luck, to Yance and Elaine!
Check out a full list of all Oscar nominees here. We will be watching the 90th Academy Awards® on Sunday, March 4, 2018, at 8pm EST. Join us as we tune in!
*Synopsis from the Heroin(e) webpage.
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.
The Devil We Know, directed by Stephanie Soechtig
Unraveling one of the biggest environmental scandals of our time, a group of citizens in West Virginia take on a powerful corporation after they discover it has knowingly been dumping a toxic chemical—now found in the blood of 99.7% of Americans—into the drinking water supply.
We are excited to catch both films at Sundance 2018!
Chicken & Egg Pictures is thrilled to provide support this year to three groundbreaking projects through our Impact & Innovation Initiative.
The F Word: A Foster to Adopt Story, directed by Nicole Opper
Season 1 of The F Word revealed the story of one queer couple adopting from foster care in Oakland, CA. Season 2 continues their story while amplifying other voices in the foster care world: birth families, foster youth, adoptees, adoptive parents of color, and social entrepreneurs working to repair a broken system.
Breathe, directed by Winslow Porter and Milica Zec*
A communal experience connecting us through the simple power of existence, Breathe transforms users into Rose, a young girl orphaned after a devastating war. Rose’s life changes drastically after the trauma of living out formative years inside a conflict zone. Through her eyes, viewers live out the greatest joys and most profound struggles from her adolescence to adulthood. Each moment is inextricably shaped by her upbringing—yet she is able to find strength in small interconnected moments with those she loves.
Even as humanity continues to fail and harm each other, Breathe seeks to remind us of the solace we can find in our similarities; we are all human, and we are all connected.
The Racial Terror Project, by Michèle Stephenson and Joe Brewster
The Racial Terror Project is a groundbreaking immersive virtual reality, room-scale installation in which users time travel along the last route of Claude Neal, who was brutally hunted down and lynched by a mob of white men in Florida in 1934, and meet his descendant community today and his ancestors in the era of slavery. The Racial Terror Project tells the story of how our present-day lived experiences of racial violence and discrimination reflect a long, insufficiently-acknowledged history of white racial oppression that dates back to slavery and continues today.
We can’t wait to go along for the journey as these exciting projects push the boundaries of storytelling!
Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to announce the third cohort of our Breakthrough Filmmaker Award!
The five selected filmmakers are Natalia Almada (Todo lo demás, 2016), Ramona Diaz (Motherland, 2017), Laura Nix (Inventing Tomorrow, 2018), Kimi Takesue (95 and 6 to Go, 2016), and Nanfu Wang (I Am Another You, 2017).
“Chicken & Egg Pictures’ Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipients have often described their Breakthrough year as life altering,” said Lucila Moctezuma, Program Director of Chicken & Egg Pictures. “Unlike any other award, it’s not just a recognition of past accomplishments, but an investment in the future, both for the filmmakers’ careers and for the film industry at large, which must do more to honor women’s leadership and voices.”
For additional information on Chicken & Egg Pictures and the Breakthrough Filmmaker Award, please visit our Programs page.
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?**
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.
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.