Nest-supported Projects Receive Sundance Documentary Fund Grants

Wonderful news from Sundance Institute! Thirty-three recipients of the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund Stories of Change Grant were announced recently, and 81% of the supported projects have at least one woman producer or director.

Projects are supported through grants in the development, production, post-production and audience engagement stages, and include custom grants from The Kendeda Fund, MacArthur Foundation, and The Skoll Foundation. 

We were egg-static to see the following Nest-supported projects and filmmakers from our Diversity Fellows Initiative, Accelerator Lab, and Breakthrough Filmmaker Award programs on the list.

Through the Night Loira Limbal 2018 Accelerator Lab
Through the Night, directed by Loira Limbal

Through the Night, directed by Loira Limbal (2018 Accelerator Lab) 

To make ends meet, Americans are working longer hours across multiple jobs. This modern reality of nonstop 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.

Through the Night received a production grant from the Sundance Documentary Fund.

Nanfu Wang Lynn Zhang Born In China 2017 Accelerator Lab
Born in China, directed by Nanfu Wang and Lynn Zhang

Born in China, directed by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang (2017 Accelerator Lab)

How much control does a person have over their own life? In China, state control begins before a child is even born.

Born in China received a grant for post-production from the Sundance Documentary Fund.

The Letter, directed by Maia von Lekow & Chris King

The Letter, directed by Maia von Lekow and Chris King (2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative)

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.

The Letter received a grant for post-production from the Sundance Documentary Fund.

Ursula Liang 2017 Diversity Fellows Initiative
Untitled Race & Criminal Justice Project, directed by Ursula Liang

Untitled Race & Criminal Justice Project, directed by Ursula Liang (2017 Diversity Fellows Initiative) 

A nuanced look at how two communities of color navigate an uneven criminal justice system, anchored by one polarizing New York City case.

United Race & Criminal Justice Project received support for production from the Macarthur Foundation. This grant provides support for journalistic projects, prioritizing diverse, Native and Indigenous voices.

Chicken & Egg Pictures would also like to congratulate the following filmmakers whose work we have supported in the past or who we have individually support through the Breakthrough Filmmaker Award program—

Malika Zouhali-Worrall (director of Nest-supported projects Thank You For PlayingCall Me Kuchu, and Games You Can’t Win) recieved a development grant for her new project Untitled Dystopia Film.

Malika’s co-director in Thank You For Playing and Games You Can’t Win, David Osit also received a development grant for his  project Mayor. Congratulations Malika and David!

Laura Nix Inventing Tomorrow 2018 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award
Inventing Tomorrow, directed by Laura Nix

2016 Breakthrough Filmmaker Recipient Laura Nix received a grant for audience engagement for her film Inventing Tomorrow from The Kendeda Fund.

Meet the passionate teen innovators from around the globe who dedicate their blood, sweat, and Bunsen burners to craft cutting-edge solutions to the world’s environmental threats and present their findings at the world’s largest high school science competition, the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Chicken & Egg Pictures did not directly support Inventing Tomorrow, but supported Laura Nix through our Breakthrough Filmmaker Award program in 2016.

And She Could Be Next received a production grant from the Sundance Documentary Fund and is made by a team of women filmmakers of color, including four Nest-supported filmmakers. And She Could Be Next is directed by Grace Lee (2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient and director of American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs), Yoruba Richen (2016 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient), Deborah S. Esquenazi (Southwest of Salem) , and Geeta Gandbhir (director of A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, producer of Love the Sinner,  and 2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient) as well as Anayansi Prado, Ramona Emerson, Amber Fares, and Marjan Safinia.

Another special congratulations to Anna Fitch for her grant for production on her new project Heaven Through the Backdoor, which she is co-directing with Banker White. Anna Fitch previously received support on her work in Survivors from Chicken & Egg Pictures, also co-directed with Banker White.

Congratulations also to Violeta Ayala (director of Nest-supported Cocaine Prisonon receiving production support for her new feature documentary, The Fight.

What an incredible group of women-directed projects! Congratulations to all.

 

 

Breakthrough Filmmaker Award Recipient Natalia Almada is a Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow

Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient Natalia Almada was recently announced as one of four Sundance Institute Art of Nonfiction Fellows.

The Art of Nonfiction Fellowship supports artists by providing them with an unrestricted grant and a year-long fellowship focused on their creative goals and challenges.

Natalia Almada 2018 Breakthrough Award Recipient

Chicken & Egg Pictures supported Natalia through our 2018 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award program, as well as previously supported her feature documentary El Velador (The Night Watchman).

Recipient of the 2012 MacArthur “Genius” Grant, Natalia Almada combines artistic expression with social inquiry to make films that are both personal reflections and critical social commentaries. Her work straddles the boundaries of documentary, fiction, and experimental film.

Her most recent film Todo lo demás (Everything Else) is a narrative feature starring Academy Award®-nominated Adriana Barraza; it premiered at the New York Film Festival and was nominated for an Ariel Award. El Velador (The Night Watchman) premiered at the 2011 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and broadcast on the award-winning PBS program POV, along with her other two feature documentaries Al otro lado (To The Other Side) and El General (The General). Almada’s short film All Water Has a Perfect Memory premiered at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival and received the Best Short Documentary award at the Tribeca Film Festival.

El Velador Natalia Almada
El Velador (The Night Watchman), directed by Natalia Almada

Almada was also the recipient of the 2009 Documentary Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival and has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, United States Artists, the Herb Alpert Foundation, and The MacDowell Colony. Almada graduated with a Masters of Fine Arts in photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and currently lives between Mexico City and San Francisco.

Other 2018 Art of Nonfiction fellows are Deborah Stratman,​​ Sam Green, and Sky Hopinka. Read more about the fellows, grantees and the programs on the Sundance Institute website.

Congratulations Natalia!

The Whickers Announces 2018 Award Recipient

The Whickers recently announced the recipient of the 2018 The Whickers/Chicken & Egg Pictures Award: congratulations to Ilinca Calugareanu and the A Cops and Robbers Story team!

Ilinca Calugareanu A Cops and Robbers Story Accelerator Lab 2018
A Cops and Robbers Story, directed by Ilinca Calugareanu

Named for pioneering British broadcaster Alan Whicker, The Whickers is dedicated to supporting emerging voices in the field of documentary. The award, focused on Accelerator Lab participants, was conceived to ensure that more women enter the nonfiction filmmaking pipeline. Previous recipients include The Feeling of Being Watched by Assia Boundaoui and The Surrender of Waymond Hall by Jane Greenberg.

A Cops and Robbers Story follows Corey Pegues, one of the highest ranking black executives in the NYPD, who revealed 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. The project was recently featured as a docustory in The Guardian. Said director Ilinca Calugareanu, “It is such an honour to be this year’s recipient of The Whickers/Chicken & Egg Pictures Award. Thank you for believing in us and in the importance of Corey Pegues’s story. Your support means so much!”

Ilinca’s debut documentary feature, Chuck Norris vs. Communism, is currently available for streaming on Netflix.

Post by 2018 Communications Intern Morgan Lee Hulquist. 

The Nest at 2018 Human Rights Watch Film Festival

The 2018 Human Rights Watch Film Festival (HRWFF) in New York City will feature four Chicken & Egg-supported films and filmmakers! Make sure to catch a screening of the following films if you happen to be in the New York City area between June 14-21!

You can look at the full list of the documentaries featured here.

A Thousand Girls Like Me*, directed by Sahra Mani (2016 Diversity Fellow Initiative)A Thousand Girls Like Me*, directed by Sahra Mani (2016 Diversity Fellow Initiative) Naila and the Uprising directed by Julia Bacha at 2018 Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

In Afghanistan where systematic abuses of girls rarely come to light, and seeking justice can be deadly, one young woman says “Enough.” Khatera was brutally raped by her father since the age of nine and today she raises two precious and precocious children whom he sired. Against her family’s and many Afghanis’ wishes, Khatera forces her father to stand trial. This is her incredible story of love, hope, bravery, forgiveness, and truth.

Screening(s):

June 19, 9 pm at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center

June 20, 7 pm at the IFC Center

Get your tickets here.

*A Thousand Girls Like Me will have its US premiere at the 2018 HRWFF.

Naila and the Uprising*, directed by Julia Bacha
Naila and the Uprising directed by Julia Bacha at 2018 Human Rights Watch Film Festival.

Weaving together interviews, news footage, and expressive animation, award-winning documentarian Julia Bacha inventively chronicles the remarkable journey of Naila Ayesh, who in the late 1980s joined a clandestine movement of Palestinian women who played a pivotal role in the nonviolent uprising known as the First Intifada.

Screening(s):

June 16, 7 pm at IFC Center

Get your tickets here.

*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not support Naila and the Uprising but supported director Julia Bacha’s film, Budrus.

On Her Shoulders*, directed by Alexandria Bombach (2018 SXSW LUNA / Chicken & Egg Pictures Award recipient)On Her Shoulders*, directed by Alexandria Bombach (2018 SXSW LUNA / Chicken & Egg Pictures Award recipient)

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.

Screening(s):

June 14, 7 pm at the Film Society of Lincoln center’s Walter reade theatre

Get your tickets here.

*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not support On Her Shoulders but supported director Julia Alexandria Bombach through the SXSW LUNA / Chicken & Egg Pictures Award.

The Unafraid*, directed by Heather Courtney and Anayansi Prado (2017 Chicken & Egg Pictures mentee)The Unafraid*, directed by Heather Courtney and Anayansi Prado (2017 Chicken & Egg Pictures mentee)

High School seniors Alejandro, Silvia, and Aldo, like most of their friends, are eager to go to college and pursue their education. However, their home state of Georgia not only bans them from attending the top five public universities, but also deems them ineligible for in-state tuition at public colleges due to their immigration status as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients. In response, these three ambitious and dream-filled students divert their passions towards the fight for education in the undocumented community. As President Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric against immigrants gains momentum, and amid constant threat of losing their DACA status and being deported, The Unafraid follows these inspirational members of the generation of “undocumented, unapologetic and unafraid” young people who are determined to overcome and dismantle oppressive policies and mindsets.

Screening(s):

June 21, 7 pm at IFC Center

You can buy tickets to the Human Rights Watch Film Festival here.

*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not support The Unafraid but supported director Anayansi Prado’s film, Children in No Man’s Land.

Accelerator Lab Open Call: Apply Now!

Chicken & Egg Pictures is now accepting submissions for the 2019 Accelerator Lab Open Call!

The Accelerator Lab is focused on identifying and supporting women nonfiction directors working on their first or second feature-length documentary. In this year-long program, ten projects will receive:

  • a $35,000 in grant funding for the production of their feature-length film;
  • monthly mentorship with members of Chicken & Egg Pictures’ senior creative team;
  • three creative retreats focused on career sustainability and creative development;
  • industry meetings at a major documentary film festival; and
  • peer support from the Accelerator Lab cohort.

A glimpse at current and past projects that Chicken & Egg has supported through the Accelerator Lab program:

Through the Night, directed by Loira Limbal (Accelerator Lab Grantee)
Through the Night, directed by Loira Limbal

Through the Night, directed by Loira Limbal

To make ends meet, Americans are working longer hours across multiple jobs. This modern reality of nonstop 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.

Through the Night is a 2018 Accelerator Lab-supported film and is currently in production.

The Feeling of Being Watched, directed by Assia Boundaoui (Accelerator Lab Grantee)
The Feeling of Being Watched, directed by Assia Boundaoui

The Feeling of Being Watched, directed 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.

The Feeling of Being Watched recently premiered at the 2018 TriBeca Film Festival and is also being featured at Hot Docs.

Muhi - Generally Temporary, directed by Rina Castelnuovo and Tamir Elterman (Accelerator Lab Grantee).
Muhi – Generally Temporary, directed by Rina Castelnuovo and Tamir Elterman

Muhi – Generally Temporary, directed by Rina Castelnuovo and Tamir Elterman

Muhi, a cherubic Palestinian toddler with a life-threatening immune disorder, was transported to an Israeli hospital as a baby for emergency treatment. He and his devoted grandfather have lived there ever since, stuck in a bizarre no man’s land, with their extended family living on the other side of a fiercely guarded checkpoint. Their unique and moving story takes place within the crucible of the current relentless Israeli-Palestinian conflict that impacts everyone in its orbit.

Muhi – Generally Temporary premiered at the 2017 San Francisco International Film Festival and was featured in the Human Rights Watch Film Festival of the same year.

To check out the full list of films supported through the Accelerator Lab program, click here.

The deadline to apply is Monday, June 25th at 3:00 pm EDT. Apply now!

And sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on the Accelerator Lab and other News from the Nest!

Accelerator Lab Open Call starts May 3!

Mark your calendars! The Accelerator Lab Open Call will open on May 3, 2018, 12 pm EST.

The Accelerator Lab is focused on identifying and supporting women nonfiction directors working on their first or second feature-length documentary. Each project receives a $35,000 grant in three parts for the production of a film, to be developed over the course of the 12-month program. All directors of the ten projects come together at various points over the course of a year for an intensive period of professional development, tailored mentorship and workshops with industry experts, creatively fusing the art and craft of filmmaking with best practices and peer-to-peer support.

Sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on the Accelerator Lab Open Call and other News from the Nest!

Past grantee projects have included:

32 Pills_Hope Litoff
32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide, directed by Hope Litoff (Accelerator Lab Grantee)

32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide, directed by Hope Litoff
Premiered at the 2017 Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival
Now available on HBO, HBO NOW, and HBO GO.

A reflection on the life and suicide of Ruth Litoff, a successful artist, a pathological liar, and the filmmaker’s sister. By looking back on Ruth’s incredible highs and lows, bursts of creative genius, depression, secrets, and lies, a vivid portrait will emerge of the brilliant woman the filmmaker is not sure she ever really knew. This is her attempt to understand what happened.

The Feeling of Being Watched, directed by Assia Boundaoui (Accelerator Lab Grantee)
The Feeling of Being Watched, directed by Assia Boundaoui

The Feeling of Being Watched, directed by Assia Boundaoui
Premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival

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.

Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Folayan, co-directed by Damon Davis (Accelerator Lab Grantee)
Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Folayan, co-directed by Damon Davis

Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Folayan, co-directed by Damon Davis
Premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival
Now available on DVD and streaming

A firsthand look at how the murder of one 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.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Supports Chicken & Egg Pictures’ Accelerator Lab

Chicken & Egg Pictures proudly announces receipt of the prestigious FilmCraft grant from the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in support of the Accelerator Lab for first- and second-time filmmakers. Grants range from $5,000-$15,000, and a total of $500,000 was awarded to 51 organizations for the 2018-2019 grants year.

“It is the Grants’ privilege and responsibility to fund organizations, rising and established, that reflect both The Academy’s values and its leadership role in the arts,” said Buffy Shutt, chair of the Academy’s grants committee. Chicken & Egg Pictures’ FilmCraft grant will help fund the Accelerator Lab program and go towards fulfilling the organization’s mission to support women nonfiction filmmakers whose artful and innovative storytelling catalyzes social change. The Accelerator Lab, with a special focus on underrepresented voices and timely, urgent stories, identifies and supports emerging women filmmakers in the completion of their first or second feature-length nonfiction film. The year-long program comes with a $35,000 grant, monthly mentorship with Chicken & Egg Pictures’ senior creative team, and three multi-day creative retreats held throughout the year. The 2019 Accelerator Lab Open Call will begin on Thursday, May 3, 2018.

Through their partnership, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and Chicken & Egg Pictures seek to strengthen the power of diverse women storytellers so that in turn they can change how we see, respond to, and shape the world around us.

Announcing our 2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative Grantees

From left to right: A Prince From Outer Space: Zeki Müren; The In Between; The Letter; Omnipresence; and Commuted.

Congratulations to our 2018 Diversity Fellows: Beyza Boyacioglu; Robie Flores; Nadia Hallgren; Nailah Jefferson; and Maia von Lekow, with co-director Chris King; hailing from Istanbul, Turkey; Eagle Pass, TX; New Orleans, LA; The Bronx, NY; and Nairobi, Kenya, respectively.

In addition to a $5,000 grant and a seven-month mentorship program, the Fellows will come together in upstate New York for a multiday storytelling retreat aimed to help develop and strengthen their film’s narratives. “This year we’ll be doing a deep dive into storytelling,” says Lucila Moctezuma, Director of Programs at Chicken & Egg Pictures. “The five-day retreat will allow our Diversity Fellows to have complete focus on their art and provide them with the space to learn from one another’s diverse perspectives and artistic practices. We are so thrilled to be working with these exceptional group of women filmmakers who have such important stories to tell and such special ways of telling them.”  

The Diversity Fellows Initiative is made possible with the generous support of The Harnisch Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Time Warner Foundation.

For additional information, please visit our Programs page. Participants of the Diversity Fellows Initiative are chosen through the Accelerator Lab Open Call process. The 2019 Accelerator Lab Open Call will launch on May 3.

2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative Grantees

 

A Prince From Outer Space: Zeki Müren, directed by Beyza Boyacioglu

This experimental, multilayered film uses Zeki Müren, Turkey’s most celebrated singer and modern day queer icon, as a prism to explore the country’s internal contradictions, from its founding as a modern, secular nation to the current crisis. Zeki, “Turkey’s Liberace,” was a chameleon-like figure. He expertly used his celebrity to navigate societyallowing audiences to see in him only what they wanted to see. The film deconstructs how myths are made and consumed, as it provides a window onto Turkey, a nation existing between the worlds of the east and of the west while belonging to neither.

Beyza Boyacioglu is a filmmaker and artist from Istanbul, currently based in New York. Her work has been exhibited in MoMA Documentary Fortnight, IDFA, RIDM, Anthology Film Archives, Morelia International Film Festival, Brooklyn Museum, Maysles Cinema, and !f Istanbul, among others. She was a part of MIT Open Documentary Lab between 2014–2017. She’s been a fellow at UnionDocs, Flaherty Seminar, and Greenhouse. She holds an MASc in Comparative Media Studies from MIT and an MFA in Computer Art from SVA.

The In Between Robie Flores Chicken & Egg Pictures

The In Between, directed by Robie Flores

At the intersection of the northern Mexico desert and the plains of southwest Texas exists a symbiotic community. Here, people’s lives are spread across two countries, connected by a bridge that everyone must travel. For some, crossing to the other side means getting to work or school. For others, life straddling the border is the only way to keep their family together. Through a collection of interweaving vignettes, The In Between is a poetic ode to a greater reality of the border than the one portrayed on the news, offering a nuanced and intimate portrait of a place and its people at the heart of Mexican-American identity.

Robie Flores grew up on the US/Mexico border. She is an independent filmmaker and video editor based in New York City. She previously worked with Loki Films as an assistant on Detropia, The Education of Mohammed Hussein, and ESPN’s Nine for IX documentary, Branded. Her work has appeared on CNN and Bloomberg and has been featured by Teen Vogue, Fusion, Allure, and i-D Vice. The In Between is her first feature film. 

Omnipresence, directed by Nadia Hallgren

A look at the complexities of a South Bronx housing project over the course of a summer.

Nadia Hallgren is an award-winning filmmaker and director of photography from The Bronx, New York. With a focus on vérité storytelling, her cinematography credits include the Sundance award-winner Motherland (2017), Academy Award-nominated and Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winner Trouble the Water (2008), and Sundance award-winner Trapped (2016). She has directed short films and series for Field of Vision, Topic, and PBS; and is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, a 2018 Concordia Studio Artist in Residence, and an alum of International Center of Photography. Most recently, Nadia won the special jury prize at SXSW 2018 for an independent episodic series she directed about women running for office in response to Trump being elected.

Commuted, directed by Nailah Jefferson

Commuted tells the story of Danielle Metz, a 52-year-old woman trying to find her footing after spending nearly half of her life in prison. In 2016 Danielle’s was one of 568 life sentences President Obama overturned. Her life story is just one example of how the US criminal justice system impacts black families—before she was incarcerated, she had lost one boyfriend to police violence, another to a wrongful conviction, and then found herself in prison due to involvement with her husband’s drug ring. As Danielle starts to right her path, we reflect with her on a life interrupted.

Nailah Jefferson’s first film, Vanishing Pearls, told the story of a little known African American oyster fishing community and their fight for justice after the BP oil spill. After acquisition by ARRAY/AFFRM, Vanishing Pearls streams on The Urban Movie Channel. Nailah was nominated for a 2017 National Magazine Ellie award for Essence Magazine’s Black Girl Magic Episode 4. Nailah’s first narrative, Plaquemines, was chosen as an American Black Film Festival HBO Shorts finalist and is available on HBO, HBO GO, and HBO On Demand.

The Letter, directed by Maia von Lekow & Chris King

This story happens in rural coastal Kenya. When Karisa, a young artist living in the coastal city of Mombasa, reads a Facebook post accusing his Grandma of being a witch, he decides to return to his rural home to confront the accusations against her. The accusers, Karisa’s uncles, demand that Grandma repent and be exorcised in a Pentecostal ceremony. The story evolves into a family confrontation between those trying to protect Grandma and those condemning her. At the end, love and care triumph against superstition and economic interest.

In today’s post-colonial Kenya, the disturbing trend of witchcraft accusations, often resulting in the murder of an elder, is being used to cover up hundreds of family disputes over land, inheritance, and money. The Letter is a story through the lens of a single family highlighting the universal issues of elderly abuse and greed.

Maia von Lekow is a Kenyan musician and filmmaker. Fusing her music with a healthy fascination of people and culture, Maia has worked as director, producer, and sound recordist on several music videos and corporate films. She was named a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR on World Refugee Day 2013, and has received an African Movie Academy Award for her song “Uko Wapi.” A performing artist in her own right, Maia has appeared on several Kenyan broadcasts and maintains strong links with producers and presenters in the region.

The Letter is Maia’s first feature documentary. Maia will compose original music for the film.

Chris King is an award-winning filmmaker based in Nairobi, Kenya. Born in Australia, Chris studied at The School of Creative Arts at the University of Melbourne with honors in Visual Media. Chris has lived in Kenya full-time since 2007, working as a cinematographer, editor, animator, director, and producer in both factual and non-factual shorts, features, and music videos. In 2009, Chris co-founded Circle and Square Productions with his wife Maia and, in the same year, received an African Movie Academy Award in Editing for his work on the Kenyan feature film, From a Whisper.

Ten Nest-supported films at Hot Docs 2018!

Showcasing over 200 films and hosting over 200 thousand people each year, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival is North America’s largest documentary film festival. Chicken & Egg Pictures is excited to announce that ten Nest-supported films will be gracing this year’s line-up!

The 2018 Hot Docs festival will run April 26-May 6 in Toronto. You can view the schedule here and purchase festival passes and packages here.

Blowin’ Up, directed by Stephanie Wang-Breal
Roll Red Roll, directed by Nancy Schwartzman
Recovery Boys, directed by Elaine McMillion Sheldon (2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award Recipient)
The Devil We Know, directed by Stephanie Soechtig and Jeremy Seifert (co-director)
The Feeling of Being Watched, directed by Assia Boundaoui (2015-16 Accelerator Lab)
A Thousand Girls Like Me, directed by Sahra Mani (2016 Diversity Fellow Initiative)
United Skates, directed by Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown (2016 Diversity Fellow Initiative)
Tree, directed by Milica Zec and Winslow Turner Porter
Warrior Women, directed by Christina King and Elizabeth Castle (2017 Diversity Fellows Initiative)
On Her Shoulders directed by Alexandria Bombach (2018 SXSW LUNA / Chicken & Egg Pictures Award recipient)

***

In addition to the Nest-supported films that will be screening at the 2018 Hot Docs Festival, keep an eye out for the following films by directors whose work Chicken & Egg Pictures has supported and recognized in the past.

Grit directed by Cynthia Wade (Freeheld, 2007 and 2008) and Sasha Friedlander (Mudflow, 2013)
Inventing Tomorrow directed by Laura Nix (2018 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient)
Skywards directed by Eva Weber (Black Out, 2007)

And a special shout out to Barbara Kopple (2011 Chicken & Egg Pictures Celebration Award) who has a few films playing at Hot Docs!

Chicken & Egg Pictures wants to wish these Nest-supported films and filmmakers luck with their participation in the Hot Docs Forum on May 1st and 2nd of the festival.

Born In China directed by Nanfu Wang and Lynn Zhang
The Rashomon Effect directed by Lyric Cabral
Nobody Loves Me, directed by Farihah Zaman and Jeff Reichert, co-directores of the Nest-supported documentary Remote Area Medical.

Congratulations everyone!

Post by 2018 Spring Programs Intern Dinayuri Rodriguez.

Chicken & Egg Pictures to provide discretionary grants to two films

Chicken & Egg Pictures will provide discretionary grants to two films. Congratulations to Dark Money and The Devil We Know!

Still from Dark Money, directed by Kimberly Reed.

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.

Still from The Devil We Know, directed by Stephanie Soechtig.

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!