The Letter

SYNOPSIS

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 participated in the 2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative (past program).

ABOUT THE DIRECTORS

The Letter is co-directed by Maia von Lekow and Chris King.

Maia von Lekow is a Kenyan filmmaker and musician.  Maia has worked as director, producer, and sound recordist for several film and music projects since founding Circle and Square Productions in 2009.  She has performed on stages across the world and continues to compose music for films. She received an African Movie Academy Award for her song Uko Wapi, and was named a goodwill ambassador for UNHCR on World Refugee Day 2013.

 

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 before relocating to Kenya in 2007, where he has worked 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 yearm received an African Movie Academy Award in Editing for his work on the Kenyan feature film, From a Whisper.

The Letter is Chris and Maia’s first feature documentary.

 

Commuted (working title)

SYNOPSIS

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.

Commuted participated in the 2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative (past program). 

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

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.

A Prince From Outer Space: Zeki Müren

SYNOPSIS

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.

A Prince From Outer Space: Zeki Müren participated in the 2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative (past program).

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

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

SYNOPSIS

The in Between is a portrait of a unique community that follows the exceptional but very normal lives of the citizens of the sister cities of Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Coahuila along the U.S. / Mexico border, offering an intimate look into the heart of Mexican-American identity.

The In Between participated in the 2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative (past program). 

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Robie Flores grew up on the U.S./Mexico border. She is an independent filmmaker and video editor based in New Orleans. She previously worked with Loki Films as an assistant on Detropia, The Education of Mohammed Hussein and ESPN’s Title IX documentary, Branded. Her work has appeared on CNN and Bloomberg and has been featured by Teen Vogue, Fusion, Allure and i-d Vice. Her latest project The In Between, has received support from Chicken & Egg’s Diversity Fellows Initiative and was selected for IFP’s 2018 Documentary Lab and the 2018 Points North Fellowship. The film is fiscally sponsored by Women Make Movies.

The In Between is her first feature film.

It Rains

SYNOPSIS

Since Oliver was killed, he communicates with his mother María through the rain. He let her know the attorney’s office buried him, along with 117 other corpses, in a hidden mass grave. This sparks a new life mission for María: to hold the government accountable for exhuming them all and returning the bodies back to the families who have been looking for them for years.

It Rains participated in the 2017 Diversity Fellows Initiative (past program). 

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

It Rains is directed by Carolina Corral.

Carolina is a Mexican visual anthropologist who graduated from the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at Manchester University. After a long academic path, she became an independent filmmaker focusing on women issues. Her recent short films, Semillas de Guamúchil and La Batalla de las Cacerolas, have earned several awards. In 2016 she finished Love, Our Prison, an animated short-documentary on romantic love in prison, which is part of the official selection at Festival d’animation d’Annecy 2017.

How to Have an American Baby

SYNOPSIS

How to Have an American Baby is a kaleidoscopic voyage that travels behind closed doors into the booming shadow economy that caters to affluent Chinese tourists who travel to the US on birthing vacations—in order to give birth and obtain US citizenship for their babies. Tracing the underground supply chain from Beijing and Shanghai to Los Angeles, the film weaves together vignettes and deeply private moments. In bedrooms, delivery rooms, and family meetings, the story of a hidden global economy emerges—depicting the fortunes and tragedies that befall the ordinary people caught in the web of its influence.

How to Have an American Baby participated in the 2017 Diversity Fellows Initiative (past program) 

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Leslie Tai is a Chinese-American filmmaker from San Francisco. Her award-winning shorts have premiered at Tribeca, MoMA, IDFA, and Visions du Réel. Leslie spent five years making films in the underground documentary film movement in China. She is a Fulbright Scholar and holds an MFA in Documentary Film from Stanford University.

Untitled Race & Criminal Justice Project

SYNOPSIS

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

Untitled Race and Criminal Justice Project participated in the 2017 Diversity Fellows Initiative (past program).

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Ursula Liang is a print journalist-turned-filmmaker who has worked for The New York Times Op-Docs, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, ESPN The Magazine, WBAI, Hyphen magazine, the New Yorker Festival, and the 2050 Group. She produced for the films Tough Love and Wo Ai Ni, Mommy, and the television shows UFC Primetime and Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge. Liang grew up in Newton, MA and lives in the Bronx, NY. Her award-winning debut feature, 9-Man, was broadcast on public television.

The Other Half Of The African Sky

SYNOPSIS

The Other Half Of The African Sky follows filmmaker Tapiwa Chipfupa’s attempts to reconcile her estrangement from her family, triggered by a disagreement over her marriage. Through encounters with other women from all walks of life facing their own predicaments, Tapiwa explores how women hold up their half of the sky under a very constrictive and constantly contradictory environment in this very personal, brutally honest, and intriguing document of the disparities and the vast contradictions that women face in contemporary Zimbabwe. The film gives voice to the hopes, fears, and dreams of Zimbabwe’s women while simultaneously revealing a country in flux.

The Other Half Of The African Sky participated in the 2017 Diversity Fellows Initiative (past program). 

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

The Other Half Of The African Sky is directed by Tapiwa Chipfupa.

Director, writer, and producer Tapiwa Chipfupa is an original, eclectic creative. She worked on various projects in southern Africa before deciding to pursue an Master’s degree from The South African School of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance (AFDA) in 2015. Tapiwa is an IDFAcademy (2016), Hot Docs (2016), La Fabrique (2016), Berlinale Talents (2015), Durban Talent Campus (2013), and AfricaDocs(2010) alumna and the inaugural winner of the Sundance Institute Spotlight Award (2015), among several others. Her projects have been acquired by broadcasters and won awards worldwide.

Warrior Women

SYNOPSIS

The women of the American Indian Movement fight from a vulnerable place only matriarchs can understand—it is a battle for their children and the culture they hope to preserve for them. Warrior Women chronicles the struggle of Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcy Gilbert, a Lakota mother and daughter whose fight for indigenous rights started in the 1970s and continues today at Standing Rock.

Through archival footage, verité, and video art, we experience Thunder Hawk’s dedication to Red Power and come to understand that activism is necessary for the very survival and success of Native culture and values for the next generation.

Warrior Women participated in the 2017 Diversity Fellows Initiative (past program).

 

ABOUT THE DIRECTORS

Warrior Women is directed by Christina D. King and Elizabeth Castle.

A enrolled member of the Seminole Tribe, Christina D. King’s work spans commercials, documentary, film, and television with a focus on civic engagement through storytelling.

Christina recently produced the adaptation of the New York Times best-selling novel We the Animals, as well as the documentaries Up Heartbreak Hill​ (POV) and This May Be The Last Time​ (Sundance Channel International), which explores the origins of Native Mvskogee worship songs in Oklahoma.

 

Dr. Elizabeth Castle is a scholar-activist making her first documentary based on her book on Native women’s activism and oral history collection. While completing her PhD at Cambridge, she worked for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race and served as a delegate to the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. She received the UC Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Santa Cruz under the supervision of professor Angela Davis. Elizabeth is descended from the Pekowi band of the Shawnee.

A Thousand Girls Like Me

SYNOPSIS

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.

A Thousand Girls Like Me  participated in the 2016 Diversity Fellows Initiative (past program). 

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Sahra Mani is an Afghan filmmaker. She studied BA in Digital Film Production at London Metropolitan. Getting an MA in Documentary Film-making from University of the Arts London, she started to work as a lecturer for the Arts Department of Kabul University. Sahra was an organizer of Afghanistan Human Rights Film Festival, 2013. She is the founder of Afghanistan DocHouse based in Kabul, and co-founder of Anahat Vision and Films Production based in London. She has made several documentaries nominated for different film festivals and won awards.