We are proud to present the twelve grantees selected for the 2022 Critical Issues Fund. The Critical Issues Fund supports filmmakers, with more than $250,000 in funding, whose work is focused on important and topical issues that are currently having a decided and material impact on communities domestically and internationally. The 2022 grant awardees have projects exploring some of the most pressing issues of the moment: the war in Ukraine, gun violence, reproductive justice, and climate emergencies.
“Through the Critical Issues Fund, we have identified films that have the potential to drive social change by sharing these stories with the world now—not years down the line. Chicken & Egg Pictures cares deeply about these issues and believes that a more equitable and just world can be shaped by the power of documentary films. Our hope is that through highlighting these stories told by talented women filmmakers, others will be motivated to action to support the films and the issues they highlight,” said CEO of Chicken & Egg Pictures, Jenni Wolfson. “We live in a world that’s not doing enough to prevent war, gun violence, climate change, or advance reproductive justice. We firmly believe these films can help in the fight for these issues.”
We are thrilled to give these filmmakers a warm welcome to the Nest. The 2022 Critical Issues Fund grantees are:
After Roe (Working title)
Directors: Amber Fares, Geeta Gandbhir (US/CANADA)
After Roe explores the ongoing nationwide battle playing out after the Supreme Court left the fate of tens of millions of women in the hands of politicians across the country.
Breaking the News
Directors: Heather Courtney, Chelsea Hernandez, Princess Hairston (US)
Producer: Diane Quon
Breaking the News follows a group of women and non-binary journalists, bucking the white male status quo, to launch The 19th*—a digital news startup that asks who has been omitted from mainstream coverage and how they can be included.
Director: Olha Zhurba (UKRAINE)
Producer: Darya Bassel
Displaced captures a collective portrait of Ukrainians fleeing the grindstones of war, and those who stayed and are forced to adapt to life under constant shelling.
Director: Alisa Kovalenko (UKRAINE)
Producer: Katarzyna Kuczyńska
Co-producers: Monica Hellström, Valeryi Kalmykov
Frontline is a diary from the frontline of the Russian invasion of Ukraine by a director and mother turned soldier.
Hollywood Does Abortion (Working title)
Directors & Producers: Barbara Attie, Mike Attie, Janet Goldwater (US)
Producer: Eliza Licht
Hollywood Does Abortion explores descriptions of abortion in film and television, revealing how Hollywood both reflects and distorts this safe but controversial medical procedure.
Director: Oksana Karpovych (UKRAINE/CANADA)
Producer: Les Films Cosmos
Intercepted is a journey through Ukraine that reveals the banality of evil behind the Russian invasion.
Director & Producer: Tracy Droz Tragos (US)
Plan C follows the journey of a grassroots network, with a controversial visionary at the helm, as they fight to expand access to abortion pills across the United States, and keep hope alive during a global pandemic and the fall of Roe v. Wade.
Razing Liberty Square
Director: Katja Esson (GERMANY/US)
Razing Liberty Square features Miami as ground zero for sea level rise. When residents of the Liberty Square public-housing community learn about a $300-million revitalization project in 2015, they soon discover that this sudden interest comes from the fact that their neighborhood is located on the highest and driest ground in the city. Now they must prepare to fight a new form of racial injustice: climate gentrification.
Director: Iryna Tsilyk (UKRAINE)
Producer: Darya Bassel
Red Zone shares Tsilyk’s very intimate and female perspective on the question—what does it mean to be a woman in the war times?
Sol in the Garden
Directors: Emily Cohen Ibañez, Débora Souza Silva (US/COLOMBIA/BRAZIL)
Sol in the Garden features Sol—who is released from prison after 16 years of incarceration—and follows her journey as she discovers that coming into her own freedom can be as challenging as living behind bars. Through a community gardening collective of formerly incarcerated horticulturalists in East Oakland, Sol strives to recover her humanity and sense of self.
Untitled Baby Doe Film
Director: Jessica Earnshaw (CANADA)
Producer: Holly Meehl Chapman
Untitled Baby Doe Film intimately explores the phenomena of pregnancy denial through the stories of two women, a generation apart, given life sentences for the deaths of their newborns.
Untitled Uvalde Documentary
Director & Producer: Anayansi Prado (PANAMA/US)
Note: The parentheses next to the directors’ names indicate the directors’ country or countries of origin.
Announced via Women & Hollywood today, Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to introduce the seventh cohort of our Chicken & Egg Award, which supports six advanced-career women and gender nonconforming filmmakers with unrestricted funding. The directors will receive a $50,000 grant, and for the first time ever two directors will receive a $15,000 finalist grant.
“The Chicken & Egg Award makes bold investments in the personal and professional wellbeing of visionary women and gender nonconforming documentary makers. Over the past seven years, we have given unrestricted cash grants totaling $1.9 million US dollars to 38 change-making directors,” said Program Director Lucila Moctezuma. “Because filmmakers—especially those affected by roadblocks tied to their gender, race, class, and location—deserve financial freedom while they create new projects.”
Please click on the Recipients’ names for more information on each filmmaker and give these visionary directors a warm welcome to the Nest!
2022 CHICKEN & EGG AWARD RECIPIENTS
Petra Costa is a Brazilian documentary filmmaker whose work lives on the borderlines of the personal and political. She directed The Edge of Democracy (2019), which was nominated for the Academy Award® for Documentary Feature in 2020; Undertow Eyes (2009); Elena (2012); and Olmo and the Seagull (2015). Petra is associate producer of Barbara Paz’s Babenco (2019), producer of Moara Passoni’s Ecstasy (2020), and EP of Rebeca Huntt’s BEBA (2021).
Dr. Bev Palesa Ditsie (Hon) is a radical gender nonconforming lesbian activist and award winning filmmaker, disruptor and change agent who was instrumental in bringing LGBTIQA+ rights into focus in the late 80’s and 90’s in South Africa and the world. She is also a reality TV director whose credits include Big Brother Africa, Survivor South Africa, and Project Runway South Africa. Among her film credits are Simon & I, A Family Affair, and The Commission. Lesbians Free Everyone (2020), their latest work filmed during lockdown, takes the viewer along their journey as the first African Lesbian to address the UN at the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing 1995.
Anayansi Prado is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has focused on issues of undocumented immigration, indigenous rights, and race identity. Her feature films have aired nationally on PBS including The Unafraid (2018), Paraiso for Sale (2010), and Maid in America (2005). Anayansi is a Rockefeller Media Fellow and a Creative Capital Artist; her work has been supported by the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Chicken & Egg Pictures, amongst others.
Brett Story is an award-winning filmmaker and writer based out of Toronto. She is the director of the critically acclaimed feature documentaries The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (2016) and The Hottest August (2019), both of which have screened around the world. Brett has held fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and Sundance Institute, and she was named one of Variety’s 10 Documentary Filmmakers to Watch 2019.
Margreth Olin is a director and producer with a large cinema audience in Norway. She has made 13 films, which have received critical acclaim, participated at numerous festivals abroad, and won several Norwegian and international awards. Margreth has managed to catalyze important dialogues with the topics her films shed light on. She has personally received 26 honorary awards for her commitment and focus on human rights. Her credits include My Body (Tribeca 2002), EFA-nominated Raw Youth (2004), The Angel (TIFF 2010), Nowhere Home (IDFA 2012), Cathedrals of Culture (Berlinale 2013), Self Portrait (DOC NYC 2020).
Tracy Heather Strain, a two-time Peabody Award-winning and Emmy-nominated filmmaker, explores stories about the ways diverse peoples have experienced life in the US. She won an NAACP Image Award for Motion Picture Directing for Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart, which premiered at TIFF and made its television debut on American Masters. She is presently developing Survival Floating, a hybrid documentary investigating African-descended peoples’ relationships with swimming.
2022 CHICKEN & EGG AWARD FINALIST DEVELOPMENT GRANT RECIPIENTS
Ditsi Carolino studied filmmaking at the National Film & Television School in the UK on a Chevening Scholarship. Her past projects include Life on the Tracks, about a couple who live by the railway slums (IDFA World Premiere, BBC Storyville Broadcast); and Bunso: The Youngest, about three imprisoned boys from 11–13, which was used by child rights advocates to pass the juvenile justice law. Ditsi is a member of Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Sonia Kennebeck is an award-winning director and producer and has released three critically-acclaimed independent feature films: National Bird (Berlinale Special 2016), Enemies of the State (TIFF 2020), and United States vs. Reality Winner (SXSW 2021). She received the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award and Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize. She is a first-generation college graduate who was born in Malaysia, raised in Germany, and lives in the US.
Read the Women & Hollywood article about the 2022 Chicken & Egg Award.
Mark your calendars for June 29 and 30! The Chicken & Egg Pictures team will be viewing And She Could Be Next this Sunday, June 29 and Monday, June 30 on our local PBS stations. And She Could Be Next, directed by Chicken & Egg Award recipient Grace Lee and Chicken & Egg Pictures Board Member Marjan Safinia, tells the story of a defiant movement of women of color, transforming politics from the ground up.
And She Could Be Next was also field directed by Chicken & Egg Award recipients Yoruba Richen and Geeta Gandbhir and AlumNest filmmakers Amber Fares (Speed Sisters), Deborah S. Esquenazi (Southwest of Salem), and Anayansi Prado (Children in No Man’s Land). The series follows candidates and organizers across the country, asking whether democracy itself can be preserved—and made stronger—by those most marginalized, featuring history-makers including Rashida Tlaib, Stacey Abrams, Lucy McBath, Bushra Amiwala, Maria Elena Durazo, Veronica Escobar, Nse Ufot and more.
Monday, June 29
Episode One: Building The Movement opens with the powerful reminder that “women of color have been the backbone of our communities forever.” An energetic montage of modern American civil rights movements–from women’s suffrage to Stonewall, Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock–brings us to the 2018 midterm elections where a new generation of women of color is ready to take the lead. The documentary goes behind-the-scenes at local rallies, war rooms and church basements, where candidates and organizers embark on the campaign trail. We also witness the unique challenges they face, from well-resourced incumbents to systemic barriers that disproportionately affect black, brown and immigrant communities. As we get to know these women, we see how they do not live “single issue lives” but are each a product of a larger movement–one that is coalition-based, intergenerational and interfaith.
Tuesday, June 30
Episode Two: Claiming Power takes us to the weeks leading up to election day and focuses on how organizers combat voter suppression in their own communities. At the heart of the episode is a growing multi-ethnic coalition in Georgia, a state with a rich history of civil rights organizing and poised to be a “majority minority” state as early as 2025. In addition to the New Georgia Project, groups like Mijente and Asians for Abrams put boots on the ground to address language barriers, poll purges and “exact match” laws that impact thousands of voters across the state. As results roll in, there is celebration for some and disappointment for others–but for these community organizers, the work does not stop when the polls close. Through it all, these women present a collective vision of political power that is rooted in care, dignity and joy, and remind us that there is an organizer in all of us.
Learn more about And She Could Be Next here.
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)
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
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)
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.
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.