As a nonprofit based in the United States, the Chicken & Egg Pictures team and many of the artist-activists we support have been closely following the recent election, watching as our country voted for a new leader in a time of global crisis.
Films about democracy and elections have long added to conversations about the democratic process on the national and international level and told the stories of our nations. As the US election cycle comes to a close, the following documentaries by women filmmakers from the past fifteen years of our organization are on our mind. Here are a few films by Nest-supported filmmakers that have used intimate storytelling to convey the power of democracy:
Councilwoman, directed by Margo Guernsey, follows a hotel housekeeper from the Dominican Republic who wins a City Council seat in Providence, Rhode Island. Carmen balances cleaning hotel rooms with navigating a political establishment that does not easily acquiesce to the needs of working people.
Watch on Vimeo.
In Democrats, directed by Camilla Nielsson, two politicians from rival parties in Zimbabwe oversee the creation of a new constitution following the election of Robert Mugabe as president in 2008.
Watch on Apple TV.
And She Could Be Next, co-directed by Grace Lee (Chicken & Egg Award Recipient) and Marjan Safinia (Chicken & Egg Pictures Board), tells the story of a defiant movement of women of color, transforming politics from the ground up. 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. Watch on PBS.
Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, directed by Anabel Rodríguez Ríos
On Lake Maracaibo, beneath the mysterious silent Catatumbo lightning, the village of Congo Mirador is preparing for parliamentary elections. For streetwise local businesswoman and Chavist party representative Tamara, every vote counts, fought by all means. While for opposition-supporting teacher Natalie, politics is a weapon that is unsuccessfully attempting to force her from her job. And with her sharp eyes, little Yohanny sees her community sinking from sedimentation, her childhood and innocence with it. How can a small fishing village survive against corruption, pollution and political decay—a reflection of all the flaws of contemporary Venezuela? If you are in the US, tune into DOC NYC to watch from November 11 – 19. Tickets here.
“I Am Not Going to Change 400 Years in Four,” directed by Angela Tucker and 2016 Chicken & Egg Award Recipient Kristi Jacobson, follows Satana Deberry as she takes the oath of office as district attorney of Durham County, North Carolina. Satana is a Black woman elected to an office historically held by white men whose “tough on crime” policies have devastated communities of color for decades. Now, she faces the complicated realities of seeking to reform a deeply flawed criminal justice system, and a community ravaged by gun violence. Her story is at once inspiring and empowering—and also a call to action, for voters across the US. “I Am Not Going to Change 400 Years in Four” was produced by Chicken & Egg Pictures in partnership with Mother Jones. Watch on Mother Jones.
The Supreme Price, directed by Joanna Lipper, traces the evolution of the Pro-Democracy Movement in Nigeria and efforts to increase the participation of women in leadership roles. Following the annulment of her father’s victory in Nigeria’s Presidential Election and her mother’s assassination by agents of the military dictatorship, Hafsat Abiola faces the challenge of transforming a corrupt culture of governance into a democracy capable of serving Nigeria’s most marginalized population: women.
Watch at Women Make Movies.
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.
Chicken & Egg Pictures proudly announces two new members to our Board of Directors: Leslie Belzberg and Marjan Safinia. Members of our Board of Directors serve an official role for Chicken & Egg Pictures, offering constructive feedback, guidance, and independent oversight of our work.
Leslie Belzberg (pictured left) currently oversees all television and theatrical productions for Gaumont USA as Senior Vice President, Production. Prior to Gaumont, Leslie was a consultant for Blumhouse Television and head of production at Miramax and Endemol-Shine North America.
Before moving into high-level executive roles at major studios, Belzberg was an independent producer, most well-known for her storied collaboration with director John Landis. Together, they co-created St. Clare Entertainment, a TV production company. She also produced many of his films including Coming to America, Three Amigos, Blues Brothers 2000, Beverly Hills Cop III, Susan’s Plan, The Stupids, Oscar, Spies Like Us, and Into the Night. Belzberg has also produced Academy Award winning films such as Crazy Heart, which earned Jeff Bridges a Best Actor win, and the documentary Genocide, also produced by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, now the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
Leslie earned an MBA from Fordham University in New York and a BA in English Literature and Contemporary Drama from York University in Toronto.
Marjan Safinia (pictured right) is an Iranian documentary filmmaker whose films examine identity, community, and social justice. Her current project And She Could Be Next (in production) is about women of color running for political office to claim political power for a rising new American majority. Marjan’s feature documentary Seeds tells the story of ten brave teenagers from the world’s most troubled conflict zones living side-by-side for one life-changing summer. Her first film But You Speak Such Good English is a half hour documentary which explores the first-generation immigrant experience from an insider perspective.
Collectively, Marjan’s films have played at over 100 international film festivals and broadcast in North America, Europe, and across the Arab world. She has produced and directed work for Co-Founder of Google Sergey Brin, the Barack Obama administration, and Next Generation in partnership with the Clinton Foundation. Her work has been supported by the IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund and Sundance Institute. She is also a Sundance Catalyst Fellow.
Until 2018, Marjan was the longest-serving President of the Board of Directors of the International Documentary Association (IDA), also the only woman of color to hold the position since the IDA was founded in 1982. She also co-hosts The D-Word, the preeminent online community for documentary professionals. Marjan is a regular juror, programmer, speaker and connector of all things documentary.