We’re soaring (digitally) into the 2021 Sundance Film Festival this month, taking place from Thursday, January 28 to Wednesday, February 3. Tickets are now on sale to see the following Nest-supported filmmakers and films from anywhere in the United States:
Users, directed by Natalia Almada
“A mother wonders, will my children love their perfect machines more than they love me, their imperfect mother? She switches on a smart-crib lulling her crying baby to sleep. This perfect mother is everywhere. She watches over us, takes care of us. We listen to her. We trust her.”
Natalia Almada worked on Users during her 2018 Chicken & Egg Award year and the project participated in NEXT GEN EGG. Check out the film’s Sundance page here.
Writing With Fire, directed by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh
In a cluttered news landscape dominated by men, emerges India’s only newspaper run by Dalit women. Armed with smartphones, Chief Reporter Meera and her journalists break traditions, be it on the frontlines of India’s biggest issues or within the confines of their homes, redefining what it means to be powerful.
Writing With Fire participated in our 2018 (Egg)elerator Lab and NEXT GEN EGG. Check out the film’s Sundance page here.
The Changing Same — Lead Artists: Michèle Stephenson, Joe Brewster, and Yasmin Elayat
“This immersive, episodic experience uses time travel and magical realism to pilgrimage through the evolution of racial violence in the U.S., making vital connections between the past and present. Episode 1 introduces the time travel portal—the Cracker House—and begins with a police altercation in a quiet suburb of modern-day New Jersey. The police altercation leads to mass incarceration and a slave warehouse, while hurtling toward a glimpse of a radiant post-racial utopia.”
The Changing Same received a 2017 Impact and Innovation Grant, a past Chicken & Egg Pictures program. You need a Desktop-tethered VR Headset to participate; learn more about the project here.
Our AlumNest is the 325+ women and gender nonconforming filmmakers we have supported in our sixteen years as an organization. Check out these projects by supported filmmakers at the upcoming Sundance Film Festival:
Bring Your Own Brigade, directed by Lucy Walker (The Lion’s Mouth Opens)
“Prison X – Chapter 1 : The Devil and The Sun” — Lead Artists: Violeta Ayala (Cocaine Prison), Alap Parikh, Maria Corvera Vargas, Roly Elias
Try Harder! directed by Debbie Lum (Seeking Asian Female)
President, directed by Camilla Nielsson (Democrats)
In The Same Breath, directed by Nanfu Wang (2018 Chicken & Egg Award, One Child Nation)
Chicken & Egg Pictures is celebrating the holiday season and saying farewell to 2020 by featuring a dozen Nest-supported women and gender nonconforming filmmakers. For more Dozen Days of Filmmakers, see here.
Alexandra Codina’s newest film Paper Children (Niños de papel), an (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and Knight Foundation funded film, explores America’s invisible refugee crisis through the eyes of one Miami family who navigate a broken system with unwavering resilience. The film is a Youtube Original and is available to stream for free. Alexandra also wrote about Paper Children and moving “beyond the politics of asylum” for our blog series Letters from the AlumNest.
Her debut film Monica & David, also a Nest-supported project which premiered in 2009, tells the love story of two adults with Down syndrome. The film won Tribeca Film Festival’s Jury Award, was nominated for an Emmy Award, premiered on HBO, and broadcast in 33 countries. Monica & David was featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, ABC, Harper’s Bazaar, Variety, and Latina Magazine.
In addition to Chicken & Egg Pictures, Alexandra’s work has also been supported by The Fledgling Fund, The Perspective Fund, Sundance Knight Fellowship, South Florida Arts Consortium & Tribeca All Access. She is currently producing Untitled: Chinese in Africa Project with Jialing Zhang (director/producer of (Egg)celerator Lab grantee One Child Nation). The daughter of Cuban refugees, Alexandra lives in Miami and is the mother of two young boys.
A special congratulations to the following Nest-supported filmmakers who were selected for DOC NYC’s famous Short Lists for contenders for the documentary short category and contenders for feature documentary category. DOC NYC Film Festival is the largest nonfiction film festival in the US and runs from Wednesday, November 11 to Thursday, November 19.
DOC NYC’s Short Lists are influential for their steady track record of anticipating Academy Award nominees and winners. Check out the Nest-supported films screening at the festival here; the films are available to watch across the US.
DOC NYC Short List: Features
Nowhere is the worldwide erosion of democracy, fueled by social media disinformation campaigns, more starkly evident than in the authoritarian regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Journalist Maria Ressa places the tools of the free press—and her freedom—on the line in defense of truth and democracy.
With this inventive portrait, a cameraperson seeks a way to keep her 86-year-old father alive forever. Utilizing moviemaking magic and her family’s dark humor, she celebrates Dr. Dick Johnson’s last years by staging fantasies of death and beyond. Together, dad and daughter confront the great inevitability awaiting us all.
The Fight documents a team of scrappy ACLU lawyers battling Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties.
Congratulations to AlumNest filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, whose new film On the Record made the DOC NYC Short List: Features and will screen at the fest. Kirby and Amy were supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures for their project The Invisible War.
DOC NYC Short List: Shorts
Congratulations to the following AlumNest filmmakers on their shortlisted short films: Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Geeta Gandbhir for Call Center Blues, Tiffany Hsiung for Sing Me A Lullaby, Alison Klayman for Flower Punk, and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for A Life Too Short.
*These projects were supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures during the filmmakers’ Chicken & Egg Award year.
Our Nest-supported filmmaking community is soaring into DOC NYC Film Festival, which runs virtually from Wednesday, November 11 to Thursday, November 19. Ten supported films across many of our core programs— (Egg)celerator Lab films by emerging filmmakers, projects by advanced-career Chicken & Egg Awardees, and films from our inaugural Project: Hatched completion program—are official selections. Plus A Cops and Robbers Story, directed by directed by Ilinca Calugareanu, will make its world premiere at the New York festival! Learn more about the ten projects below, and get your tickets for DOC NYC here.
9to5: The Story of a Movement, directed by Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar | Tickets here
“In the early 1970s, secretaries and other female office workers were underpaid, undervalued, unable to advance, and often subject to sexual harassment. In the wake of the Women’s Liberation Movement, a group of women in Boston finally had enough, joining together to begin 9to5, a movement that would sweep the nation with irreverent, attention-getting actions to demand meaningful change—and later inspire the eponymous hit film and song.”*
A Cops and Robbers Story, directed by Ilinca Călugăreanu | Tickets here (World Premiere)
In the 1980s, Corey Pegues found himself embroiled in a life of crime as a member of New York’s City’s infamous Supreme Team gang. After an incident forces Pegues away from the streets, he unexpectedly emerges as a rising star in the NYPD, his past unknown to his fellow officers. A decorated 21-year police career is threatened when his political stances and revelations about his former life cause strife within the police community.
Down a Dark Stairwell, directed by Ursula Liang | Tickets here
In 2014, Peter Liang, a Chinese-American police officer, shot and killed an innocent, unarmed black man named Akai Gurley in the dark stairwell of a Brooklyn housing project. In the midst of high racial tension surrounding police conduct, Liang becomes the first NYPD officer to receive a guilty verdict in such a case in over a decade. The highly publicized incident polarizes New York’s Asian and African American communities’ in this insightful look into the complexities of police reform.
Enemies of the State, directed by Sonia Kennebeck | Tickets here
An average American family becomes entangled in a bizarre web of espionage and corporate secrets when their hacker son is targeted by the US government.
Landfall, directed by Cecilia Aldarondo | Tickets here
Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, Landfall examines a ruined world at the brink of transformation, spinning a cautionary tale for our times.
Stateless (Apátrida), directed by Michèle Stephenson | Tickets here
Through the grassroots campaign of electoral hopeful Rosa Iris, director Michèle Stephenson’s new documentary reveals the depths of racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divide Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Through the Night, directed by Loira Limbal |Tickets here
Through the Night is a verité documentary that explores the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider, whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center in New Rochelle, NY.
The Letter, directed by Maia von Lekow and Chris King | Tickets here
Along the coast of Kenya, a frenzied mix of consumerism and Christianity is turning hundreds of families against their elders, branding them as witches as a means to steal their land. Ninety-two-year-old Margaret Kamango stands accused by her sons, while her strong-willed daughters try to protect her. This dangerous dispute is seen through the eyes of Margaret’s grandson, Karisa, who returns home from the city to investigate and is ultimately forced to choose which side he is on.
Once Upon A Time In Venezuela, directed by Anabel Rodríguez Ríos | Tickets here
Once Upon A Time In Venezuela follows residents of a small fishing village as they prepare for parliamentary election. Once the village of Congo Mirador was prosperous. Now it is decaying and disintegrating—a prophetic reflection of Venezuela itself.
AlumNest filmmaker Tiffany Hsiung’s short film Sing Me A Lullaby will make its US premiere; Call Center Blues, directed by Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Geeta Gandbhir will screen in the Shorts program; Dick Johnson is Dead (Kirsten Johnson), A Thousand Cuts (Ramona Diaz), and The Fight (Elyse Steinberg, Eli Despres, Josh Kriegman) are on the DOC NYC Short List for feature films; and our Co-Founder & Senior Creative Consultant Judith Helfand’s film Love & Stuff is an official selection under the Masters program (co-produced with our Co-Founder Julie Parker Benello).
*Language courtesy of DOC NYC.
The Fight in Digital Theaters July 31!
Project: Hatched grantee The Fight, co-directed by Elyse Steinberg, Eli Despres, and Josh Kriegman, released in virtual cinemas on Friday, July 31. The Fight premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and documents a team of scrappy ACLU lawyers battling Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties.
Get tickets here, and watch the trailer below.
Nest-supported Emmy® Nominations
Congratulations to the following Nest-supported filmmakers and projects on their nominations for the 72nd annual Primetime Emmy® Awards, announced July 28.
American Factory is directed by Steven Bognar and 2016 Chicken & Egg Award recipient Julia Reichert and produced by Steve Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert and Chicken & Egg Pictures Co-Founder Julie Parker Benello.
Nominated for: Outstanding Directing For A Documentary/Nonfiction Program (Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar), Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program (Erick Stoll, Aubrey Keith), and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program (Lindsay Utz).
One Child Nation
One Child Nation is directed by 2018 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang and produced by Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Christoph Jorg, Julie Goldman, Carolyn Hepburn, and Christopher Clements.
Nominated for: Exceptional Merit In Documentary Filmmaking.
A special congratulations to AlumNest filmmaker Jehane Noujaim (The Square) on her nomination for Outstanding Documentary Or Nonfiction Special for The Great Hack! The 72nd annual Emmy® Awards ceremony date will be September 20, 2020 at 8:00 pm EDT.
“I kicked the hornet nest,” [Geeta] Gandbhir told IndieWire. “Yeah, but the hornet nest has definitely been growing on sort of the front porch of the white establishment for an extremely long time. … They have been working around this system, which is ultimately a white supremacist, anti-black system, forever. You have folks who have been managing to make incredible work despite the lack of access, which speaks to the resilience, bravery, and strength of the community. But we’re at a point where we can no longer tolerate this sort of white-dominant culture constantly appropriating our stories. That’s what this outcry is about.” — HBO’s Tiger Woods Series by Two White Directors Is a Flashpoint for ‘Decolonizing’ Docs from Indiewire
This Friday, July 22, Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Geeta Ghandbir and Chicken & Egg Pictures Board Member Marjan Safinia, along with other women documentary filmmakers of color, were featured in an Indiewire article by Tambay Obenson, where they addressed their questions for the filmmakers behind the new Tiger Woods documentary for HBO and their vision for a more equitable nonfiction film industry.
Supported Filmmakers Flock to BlackStar Film Festival
BlackStar Film Festival is “a celebration of the visual and storytelling traditions of the African diaspora and of global communities of color, showcasing films by Black, Brown and Indigenous people from around the world.” Announced this week, screening at the digital fest this August are Nest grantees: Landfall, directed by Cecilia Aldarondo; Coded Bias, directed by Shalini Kantayya; Through The Night, directed by Loira Limbal; Down a Dark Stairwell, directed by Ursula Liang; and Stateless, directed by Michèle Stephenson.
In addition, BlackStar has a comprehensive slate of panels, special events, and other feature and short documentaries. View the whole schedule, beginning Wednesday, August 19 here.
Nest-supported documentary Paper Children Launches Impact Campaign:
“As we face one of the most challenging times in modern history, with much collective grief and loss, we have the opportunity to honor and uphold our strength and legacy as a country of immigrants.”
Director Alexandra Codina launched the impact campaign for her Nest-supported film Paper Children (2017 (Egg)celerator Lab), including an op-ed published in The Miami Herald and a co-authored post with other activists in asylum and immigrant rights on Medium, both are calls to action to help protect asylum seekers and to speak out against proposed asylum regulations in the US. Read more here:
The Miami Herald: This is the worst time yet to gut asylum protections for those fleeing persecution — Alexandra Codina
Medium: Asylum is a humanitarian issue. It has been corrupted by politics. — Alexandra Codina, Americans for Immigrant Justice, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and others
Paper Children is available to stream on Youtube.
Firelight Media’s “Beyond Resilience” Series Continues This Week
Loira Limbal, Senior Vice President for Programs at Firelight Media and 2019 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee for Through the Night, will be featured on another Beyond Resilience panel Friday, July 17 at 2 pm ET.
Beyond Resilience: The Black Gaze — Join Firelight Media for a conversation with Black filmmakers on how they are navigating the ubiquitous images of Black trauma in this moment, documenting Black life, and forging new cinematic languages, practices, and formal approaches.
The Beyond Resilience series is available on Firelight Media’s Youtube channel if you cannot make the live webinar.
Ramona Diaz Premieres Trailer for A Thousand Cuts Announces Theatrical Run:
“As the United States goes through its own journey of civic unrest and social change, the Philippines is going through its own journey that is having a substantial political impact on the Asian archipelago and as seen in Ramona S. Diaz’s Sundance documentary A Thousand Cuts, which is set to open in theaters and in virtual theaters nationwide on August 7, the reverberations may have global consequences.“
The trailer for A Thousand Cuts is available to watch on Youtube.
Programmatic Changes from Chicken & Egg Pictures
This week, we announced the four new grantees of our Project: Hatched impact and audience engagement program, as well as how our team has reshaped the program to better fit filmmakers’ needs in the current documentary film landscape. Read more here.
Monday, July 6 was the last day to apply to the 2021 (Egg)celerator Lab Open Call. All applicants will be notified of their application status by December 2020.
Our Team & Supported Filmmakers Featured in DOC NYC PRO Programming
DOC NYC PRO Day: Funding Your Documentary
The team behind Belly of the Beast, director Erika Cohn and producer Angela Tucker, participated in a panel at DOC NYC PRO Day: Funding Your Documentary on Wednesday, June 8 to discuss their funding sources and experiences. Plus our Program Director Lucila Moctezuma joined them to talk about our support of the film’s impact and engagement campaign through Project: Hatched, as well as our other programs.
Read more about Belly of the Beast and Project: Hatched here.
DOC NYC’s Friday Fix
On Friday, July 10, our Co-Founder and Senior Creative Consultant Judith Helfand joined DOC NYC’s Thom Powers, Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Dawn Porter (John Lewis: Good Trouble), and Sam Feder (Disclosure) for DOC NYC’s Friday Fix.
On the panel, Judith discussed her film Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, about the 1995 Chicago heat wave, and how poor communities are disproportionately impacted by climate change. Watch the Friday Fix recording on DOC NYC’s Youtube channel.
Yoruba Richen Will Co-Direct Breonna Taylor Documentary
Announced via The Hollywood Reporter, Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Yoruba Richen will co-direct a documentary about Breonna Taylor for The New York Times Presents, a new partnership between FX and The New York Times.
“Among the subjects planned for the new series are a documentary about Breonna Taylor, the 27-year-old Black woman who was killed by police officers while she slept in her home in Louisville, Kentucky. Director Yoruba Richen (The New Black) and Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi will explore Taylor’s life and investigate the circumstances of her death on March 13.”
The Hollywood Reporter: FX, New York Times to Produce Breonna Taylor Doc as Part of New Series — Rick Porter
“This unprecedented moment requires us to innovate as an organization and to reimagine the way our programs support filmmakers. Peer mentorship is an instrumental part of our programs, and we know that filmmakers need each other’s support in order to navigate this changed industry. Each member of this Project: Hatched cohort is a director seeking to forge new models in the documentary world, engage with their audiences in new ways, and increase the social impact of their films in the digital space.” — Program Director, Lucila Moctezuma
How we are shifting the Project: Hatched program:
Project: Hatched, announced in January 2020 as our new completion fund, was originally designed to support directors with finishing funds and mentorship as they prepared for the world premiere of a feature-length documentary film. The first Project: Hatched participants (The Fight, Coded Bias, and Once Upon a Time in Venezuela) premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Since the inaugural cohort and due to COVID-19, we have worked to reshape the program to better fit filmmakers’ needs in the current documentary film landscape.
Today we are announcing, via a Women & Hollywood exclusive, the four new Project: Hatched grantees—filmmakers whose premieres have been affected by festival changes—who will receive a $10,000 to $20,000 cash grant for their impact and audience engagement campaign, join a cohort for peer-to-peer mentorship calls with visiting experts, and set career goals with and receive mentorship from members of Chicken & Egg Pictures’ senior creative team. Additionally, two grantees from the original Project: Hatched cohort—Coded Bias, directed by Shalini Kantayya, and Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, directed by Anabel Rodríguez Ríos—will also join in on the new peer-to-peer mentorship model.
Read about the four new supported films:
Belly of the Beast
Director: Erika Cohn (UNITED STATES)
When an unlikely duo discovers a pattern of illegal sterilizations in women’s prisons, they wage a near-impossible battle against the Department of Corrections.
Director: Cecilia Aldarondo (UNITED STATES)
Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane María Puerto Rico, Landfall examines a ruined world at the brink of transformation, spinning a cautionary tale for our times.
The Dilemma of Desire
Director: Maria Finitzo (UNITED STATES)
An exploration of “cliteracy,” and the clash between the gender politics and the imperatives of female sexual desire.
Picture A Scientist
Directors: Sharon Shattuck, Ian Cheney (UNITED STATES)
Picture A Scientist chronicles the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists.
Read more about Project: Hatched on our Programs webpage here.
Congratulations to Kelly Duane de la Vega, Yvonne Welbon, and AlumNest filmmakers on their Academy Membership!
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Tuesday 819 new members invited to join their membership ranks, with 36% of invitees from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities and 45% women.
We are so proud to see two Chicken & Egg Pictures team members on the list: Head of Partnerships & Impact Kelly Duane de la Vega and Senior Creative Consultant Yvonne Welbon were invited to the Academy’s documentary branch! Congratulations to Yvonne, Kelly, as well as 9 AlumNest filmmakers on their Academy membership invitation status.
Find the full list of Nest members and grantees joining The Academy and learn more about them below:
Chicken & Egg Pictures Team
Kelly Duane de la Vega, Head of Partnerships & Impact at Chicken & Egg Pictures, plays an integral role in several of our programs, including Docs by the Dozen and Project: Hatched. She is also an independent 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 Netflix. Kelly is a member of our AlumNest and was a Nest-supported grantee for The Return.
Yvonne Welbon, Senior Creative Consultant at Chicken & Egg Pictures, is an award-winning independent filmmaker, producer, educator, entrepreneur, and consultant. She has successfully produced and distributed over 20 films including Living With Pride: Ruth Ellis @100, winner of ten best documentary awards and Sisters in Cinema, a documentary on the history of black women feature film directors. Her films have been shown on PBS, Starz/Encore, TV-ONE, IFC, Bravo, the Sundance Channel, BET, HBO, and in over 100 film festivals around the world.
Violeta Ayala (Cocaine Prison) is a Quechua film director, producer, writer and artist. She is best known for directing the award winning documentaries Cocaine Prison (2017), The Fight (2017), The Bolivian Case (2015), and Stolen (2009). She is an alumnus of the Film Independent, IFP, Berlinale, HotDocs, and Good Pitch, and is a Tribeca and Sundance Fellow. Violeta writes about the War on Drugs for the Huffington Post and is a recipient of the 2013 Bertha Britdoc Journalism Award.
Julia Bacha (2019 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient, Budrus) is a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, Guggenheim fellow, and Creative Director at Just Vision. Her directing credits also include My Neighbourhood (2012) and Naila and the Uprising (2017).
Sophie Deraspe (The Amina Profile) is one of the leading figures of new Quebec cinema. She directed feature documentary Le profil Amina/A Gay Girl in Damascus: The Amina Profile, which was selected as a World Cinema Documentary at Sundance and won the Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs. Her feature narrative Antigone was chosen as Best Canadian Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival and represented Canada at the Oscars in the category Best International Feature Film.*
Alma Har’el (LoveTrue) began her work as a photographer and a video jockey in dance clubs, before becoming a music video director. Her film Bombay Beach received a nomination for a 2011 Independent Spirit “Truer than Fiction” Award and has been taught in several universities, including Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab and Film Center. Har’el creates narrative work that plunges deep into the heart of imagination and creates surreal, dream-like poetic meditations on life.*
Robin Hessman (My Perestroika) is a is a documentary filmmaker and independent producer whose most recent film, My Perestroika, premiered at Sundance and received a Peabody Award in 2012. In addition to My Perestroika, Robin is co-producer of the Peabody-Award winning film, Tupperware!, and the PBS biography of Julia Child.
Nishtha Jain (2020 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient) is a multi-award-winning filmmaker best known for her films Saboot (2019), Gulabi Gang (2012), Lakshmi and Me (2007) and City of Photos (2004); her films are self-reflexive and explore the political in the personal, a recurring theme in her films being work or travail. She is a 2019 Fulbright Scholar and Film Independent Global Media Make.
Yoruba Richen (2016 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient, The New Black) is a documentary filmmakers whose work explores issues of race, space, and power. Her new film The Green Book: Guide to Freedom premiered on the Smithsonian Channel in 2019, and her most recent project The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts The Tonight Show was selected for the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.
Michèle Stephenson (2016 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient, The Changing Same: The Untitled Racial Justice Project) pulls from her Caribbean roots and international experience as a human rights attorney to tell compelling personal stories that resonate beyond the margins. Her work has appeared on platforms like PBS, Showtime, and MTV. Her newest film Stateless (Apátrida) reveals the depths of racial hatred and institutionalized oppression that divide Haiti and the Dominican Republic and was selected for the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.
Mila Turajlić (2020 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient) is an award-winning director and archive scholar born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Her films include The Other Side of Everything and Cinema Komunisto. In 2018, she was commissioned by MoMA to create archive-based video installations for their landmark exhibition on Yugoslav modernist architecture.
*Sophie Deraspe and Alma Har’el were invited to the Academy under the Directors category.
Congratulations to all!