Our Newest 2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative Grantee

We are very excited to welcome director Nausheen Dadabhoy and her second feature-length documentary An Act of Worship to the 2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative.

An Act of Worship follows young Muslim women beginning their career in activism at a time when hate crimes against Muslims have reached their highest level since 9/11. The travel ban has sent the message that Muslims are not welcome in the US. Now, a new generation has been galvanized into action to reclaim their space in the American landscape.

An Act of Worship Nausheen Dadabhoy Chicken & Egg Pictures
An Act of Worship, by Nausheen Dadabhoy

Nausheen Dadabhoy is a Muslim American director and DP who has always moved seamlessly between the narrative and documentary world. Her latest documentary J’adore Nawal premiered at Sundance, while her last narrative film La Femme et le TGV (The Railroad Lady) was a live action short Oscar nominee. Her directorial debut, The Ground Beneath Their Feet premiered at IDFA. Nausheen has been a Film Independent Project:Involve Fellow, a Berlin Talents participant, and is a current Firelight Fellow. 

The 2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative cohort is soon to embark on a week-long storytelling retreat in upstate New York aimed to help develop and strengthen their film’s narratives. As part of the retreat, the grantees will be participating in skill-sharing workshops where they will learn from one another’s unique perspectives and artistic practices.

Other participants of the 2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative include:

The In Between, directed by Robie Flores; Commuted, directed by Nailah Jefferson; A Prince From Outer Space: Zeki Müren, directed by Beyza Boyacioglu; and The Letter, directed by Maia von Lekow & Chris King.

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

Post by Morgan Hulquist, 2018 Communications Intern. 

The Nest Featured in POV Season 31

POV, the longest running independent documentary series in the US, has announced the line-up for its 31st Season! Congrats to the following Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films that will be broadcast as part of the series:

Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Folayan, Damon Davis (Accelerator Lab 2016)

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.

PBS premiere date: July 30, 2018.

The Apology, directed by Tiffany Hsiung

This is a film about memory, told through the current relationships three women have with the people closest to them and how these relationships indelibly shape the last years of their lives. The three women – Gil Won-Ok in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Lola Adela in the Philippines – are all former “comfort women” who were among the 200,000 girls and young women forced into military sexual slavery by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

PBS premiere date: Coming soon.

Survivors, directed by Anna Fitch, Banker White and Arthur Pratt

Through the eyes of Sierra Leonean filmmakers, Survivors presents a portrait of their country during the Ebola outbreak, exposing the complexity of the epidemic and the socio-political turmoil that lies in its wake. The film chronicles the remarkable stories of Sierra Leonean heroes during what is now widely regarded as the most acute public health crisis of the modern era.

PBS premiere date: Coming soon.

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.

PBS premiere date: Coming soon.

Be sure to catch the season premiere of POV on Monday, June 18th at 10 pm!

Post by 2018 Spring Programs Intern Dinayuri Rodriguez.

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, 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.

Announcing our 2018 Accelerator Lab grantees!

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!

 

Ilinca Calugareanu

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?

 

Siyi Chen

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.

 

Sonia Kennebeck

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.

 

Madeleine Leroyer

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.

 

Marie Lidén

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.

 

Loira Limbal

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.

 

Jacqueline Olive

 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.

 

Jennifer Redfearn

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.

 

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!

 

Announcing the five recipients of the third annual Breakthrough Filmmaker Award

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).

Still from 95 and 6 To Go, by Kimi Takesue.

“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.”

Still from Inventing Tomorrow, by Laura Nix.

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

 

Chicken & Egg Pictures on the 90th Academy Awards® shortlist!

The Oscars® shortlist is here, and we are ecstatic to announce that two Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films have advanced to the next stage of the voting process for the 90th Academy Awards® in the Documentary Features category!

Congratulations to first-time filmmakers Jennifer Brea (Unrest) and Yance Ford (Strong Island), whose films have made it to the top 15 out of 170 submitted documentaries!

Unrest, directed by Jennifer Brea

Unrest, directed by Jennifer Brea

Jennifer, a Harvard PhD 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, directed by Yance Ford

Strong Island, directed by 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.

Check out the rest of the documentary features that have advanced in the voting process here.

Nominations for the 90th Academy Awards® will be announced on Tuesday, January 23, 2018. Best of luck to Jen and Yance!

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 Religious Activism Documentary 
Directed by Penny Lane (Breakthrough Filmmaker Awards, 2017)

 

*  = From Catapult Film Fund About Us page.

Our inaugural NEXT GEN EGG event

On October 16, 2017, Chicken & Egg Pictures hosted a groundbreaking new event at Neuehouse in New York City. Supported by the Perspective Fund, this event invited a dozen first- and second-time filmmakers from around the world who participated in our Accelerator Lab and Diversity Fellows programs to share their film projects with film funders and industry professionals.

The goal of the event was to provide opportunities for attendees to meet in an intimate setting, learn about one another’s passions and projects, and explore avenues for support. Filmmakers presented their in-progress films to small groups, shared their filmmaking journeys and unique challenges, and received critical feedback from a diverse group of stakeholders.

The event was a huge success and additional support is already coming to our filmmakers as a result!

Stay tuned for another similar event, coming to San Francisco in 2018.

Chicken & Egg Pictures at DOC NYC 2017!

The 2017 DOC NYC Film Festival features three films that Chicken & Egg Pictures has supported directly. Running November 9-16, 2017 in Manhattan, the DOC NYC Film Festival is America’s largest documentary film festival.

Check out the full lineup of films, shorts, panels, and showcases here!

Lovesick (World Premiere)
Directed by Priya Desai and Ann Kim

In India, a culture obsessed with marriage but where AIDS is an unspeakable disease, can you find love and companionship if you’re HIV+? Ancient tradition and the new reality of HIV collide. Lovesick is the modern love story that results. Tickets and showtimes available here.

From Lovesick by Priya Desai and Ann Kim.

32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide (NYC Premiere)
Directed by Hope Litoff

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. Tickets and showtimes available here.

From 32 PIlls: My Sister’s Suicide by Hope Litoff.

Strong Island
Directed by 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. Tickets and showtimes available here.

From Strong Island by Yance Ford.

A big congratulations, also, to these Nest-supported filmmakers whose films are also screening at DOC NYC:

Katherine Fairfax Wright, Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall
Mohammed Naqvi, Insha’allah Democracy 
Geeta Gandbhir, Armed With Faith
Julia Bacha, Naila and the Uprising
Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman, Nobody Loves Me
Lucy Walker, Oh, What a Beautiful City (A City Symphony)
Laura Poitras, Risk