The eighth edition of the Open City Documentary Festival is kicking off this Tuesday, September 4, taking place over six days in venues across Central London. As part of their “Penny Lane: Observing Observation Itself” program, the festival will be running two feature films and eight short films by 2017 Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Award Recipient Penny Lane, including:
Morgellons disease is a medical mystery. Although doctors have no explanation for the condition, thousands of sufferers claim to experience a persistent crawling sensation under their skin, thin fibres growing out of their body and a host of other symptoms. Penny Lane dives head first into the online community of Morgellons patients re-working candid home-videos uploaded to YouTube by three women who are afflicted with the disease. Friday, September 7 at 6:10 PM. *
Throughout Richard Nixon’s presidency, three of his top White House aides obsessively documented their experiences with Super 8 home movie cameras. Saturday, September 8 at 1:00 PM. *
This screening offers a rare opportunity to see Lane’s short form work; distinctive, entertaining and provocative in equal measure. The event will include an extended Q&A with Penny covering her work and creative practice. Sunday, September 9 at 1:00 PM. *
And a special congratulations to Chicken & Egg Pictures Board Member Alexandra Shiva on her UK Premiere of This Is Home at the Open City Documentary Film Festival, in partnership with the London Migration Film Festival. Saturday, September 8 at 6:00 PM.
*Synopses from the Open City website.
Post by 2018 Communications Intern Morgan Lee Hulquist.
Sheffield Doc/Fest is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, and Chicken & Egg Pictures will be there with the 2018 Accelerator Lab cohort of first- and second-time female filmmakers, as well as four Nest-supported films for Sheffield goers to look out for!
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. Showtimes are Friday, June 8 at 3:45 PM and Sunday, June 10 at 6:30 PM.
The Pain of Others, directed by Penny Lane (2017 Breakthrough Award Recipient)
The Pain of Others is a found footage documentary about Morgellons, a mysterious illness whose sufferers say they have parasites under the skin, long colored fibers emerging from lesions, and a host of other bizarre symptoms which could be borrowed from a horror film. The Pain of Others is composed entirely of videos shared by a group of “Morgies” who have turned to YouTube for community and to prove they’re not crazy. Unsettling, funny and intimate, The Pain of Others is at once a body-horror documentary and a radical act of empathy. Showtimes are Sunday, June 12 at 9:00 AM and Tuesday, June 12 at 6:00 PM.
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. Showtimes are Sunday, June 10 at 3:00 PM and Monday, June 11 at 9:30 AM.
Skywards directed by Eva Weber (director of Nest-supported film Black Out, 2007)
A poetic and evocative visual study, Skywards takes the viewer on a journey into the world of pigeon flying, high above the bustling and crowded streets of Old Delhi. Showtimes are Sunday, June 10 at 5:45 PM and Tuesday, June 12 at 9:00 AM.
Additionally, join us for our second annual Accelerator Lab Pitch at Sheffield! The 2018 Accelerator Lab participants will pitch their projects to a live audience and will receive feedback from international decision makers and buyers. This will be an opportunity for all pass holders to hear from and meet filmmaking talent for future collaborations. The live pitch will take place Sunday, June 10 at 10:00 am.
Post by Morgan Hulquist, Summer 2018 Chicken & Egg Pictures Communications Intern.
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.
Four Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films are heading to the Tribeca Film Festival (April 18-29) this year. Congratulations to all the filmmakers for their exciting premieres!
Blowin’ Up by Stephanie Wang-Breal
Blowin’ Up looks at sex work, prostitution, and human trafficking through the lens of New York State’s criminal justice system. The film captures the growing pains of our nation’s first human trafficking intervention court in Queens, New York, and how we define trafficking and prostitution from many different perspectives: the criminal justice system, the social welfare system, and, most importantly, the women and girls who are at the center of it all.
The Feeling of Being Watched by Assia Boundaoui
In the Arab-American neighborhood outside of Chicago where director Assia Boundaoui grew up, most of her neighbors think they have been under surveillance for over a decade. While investigating their experiences, Assia uncovers hundreds of pages of declassified FBI documents that prove her hometown was the subject of one of the largest counterterrorism investigations ever conducted in the U.S. before 9/11––code-named “Operation Vulgar Betrayal.” With unprecedented access, The Feeling of Being Watched weaves the personal and the political as it follows the filmmaker’s examination of why her community fell under blanket government surveillance. Assia struggles to disrupt the government secrecy shrouding what happened to her neighborhood in the 90’s and probes why her community feels like they’re still being watched today. In the process, she confronts long-hidden truths about the FBI’s relationship to her community. The Feeling of Being Watched follows Assia as she pieces together this secret FBI operation, while grappling with the effects of a lifetime of surveillance on herself and her family.
Roll Red Roll by Nancy Schwartzman
Go behind the headlines of notorious high school sexual assault to witness the social media fueled “boys will be boys” culture that let it happen.
In small-town Ohio, at a pre-season football party, a horrible incident took place. What transpired would garner national attention and result in the sentencing of two key offenders. As amateur crime blogger Alex Goddard uncovers disturbing evidence on Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter, documenting the assault of a teenage girl by members of the beloved high school football team, questions linger around the collusion of teen and adult bystanders. Roll Red Roll explores the complex motivations of both perpetrators and bystanders in this story, to unearth the attitudes at the core of their behavior. The Steubenville story acts as a cautionary tale of what can happen when adults look the other way and deny that rape culture exists. With unprecedented access to police documents, exhibits and evidence, the documentary feature unflinchingly asks: “why didn’t anyone stop it?”
United Skates by Tina Brown and Dyana Winkler
When America’s last standing roller rinks are threatened with closure, a community of thousands battle in a racially charged environment to save an underground subculture–-one that has remained undiscovered by the mainstream for generations, yet has given rise to some of the world’s greatest musical talent.
And a special congratulations to filmmaker Madeleine Sackler for It’s a Hard Truth Ain’t It, who was previously supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures for her film, Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus.
The Tribeca Film Festival’s full program will be available March 15.
We are excited to announce that Chicken & Egg Pictures is a finalist in this year’s New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards Program. Six nonprofit organizations from across the city have been chosen as finalists.
“Strong nonprofits help our communities thrive every day. These six finalists serve as models and provide innovative and replicable practices for all nonprofits,” said Sharon Stapel, President and Executive Director of NPCC. Thanks, Sharon!
The winning organizations, who will receive cash prizes as well as scholarships to Columbia Business School programs, will be announced during the Best Practices Workshop & Awards Presentation on Friday, December 1, 2017. We can’t wait!
Learn more about the award and the other finalists here.
“What interests me is how people face everydayness”: Meet Zofia Pregowska, 2017 Accelerator Lab Grantee
Part Three of a series of blog posts from Chicken & Egg Pictures’ 2017 Accelerator Lab grantees. This post is an interview with Zofia Pregowska, Chicken & Egg 2017 Accelerator Lab Participant and director of People I Know.
Your documentary debut and short film, “Invisible,” is a portrait of Krystyna, an elderly, almost blind poet, as she prepares for a performance. It was an official selection at more than twenty five film festivals. Why do you think such a specific story has resonated with so many people?
Krystyna is an incredibly inspiring person. Though she is closed in her little apartment, she is able to wander through worlds in her imagination. At the same time, she is extremely disciplined and hardworking. She has taught me that we ourselves give value to what we do. The film is about the power of mind and imagination–but not daydreaming. Krystyna is not waiting to be saved and does not dream about the impossible. She takes her own life in her own hands, accepting it the way it is. This doesn’t mean that she accepts that she has lost her sight and hearing–but she never allows herself to be held back by her age or her disability. And she has a great sense of humor. She faces the challenges facing each of us, the gray everydayness, and she conquers them with her humor, love for life, and poetry.
A beautiful thing about “Invisible” is how quiet the audience feels, like we’re seeing something secret, something special. Your work-in-progress, “People I Know,” tells the story of Nathalie and Michael, a young married couple living in a trailer, he, a street musician, she, an oncology nurse. What compels you, as a filmmaker, to tell such intimate stories?
What compels me is the everyday quest of my characters to live a meaningful life. 90-year-old Krystyna has found her path; Michael and Nathalie, in their thirties, are at a crossroads looking for their way. What interests me is how people face everydayness. And filming people in their home is like being backstage in the theater of everyday life. What happens outside the home is a theater of social roles we play, for better or for worse. And hopefully it is compelling to the audience because there is nothing more universal than everyday life struggles. They may take different shapes in different places, but marriage, career choices, illness, aging, everyday fears and hopes are things we all can easily relate to and [at the] same time we easily miss them in everyday life. So what I try to do is take a close look at that common reality which is often invisible, to remind myself how extraordinary, ridiculously funny, and deeply tragic it is.
How have you grown as a filmmaker since “Invisible” (it being your graduate film)? How have you been adjusting to and preparing for your first feature-length documentary?
The popularity of “Invisible” gave me a lot as I had the opportunity to travel to many international film festivals which was both an amazing inspiration and [at the] same time a reality check. Therefore, I had the opportunity to meet a great number of wonderful filmmakers, short films debutants like me as well as established ones who could share their experience. Also, my industry knowledge was practically nonexistent before that, so in that sense it was a big step for me. I also had a chance to take part in the IDFA Academy and Uniondocs Summer Intensive in New York which was a great, enriching experience. Then, I also discovered Chicken and Egg. It would never have been possible without the Polish Film Institute’s support which made me able to travel. In the meantime I produced the children’s historical documentary short “A Brave Bunch,” which was also a great lesson for me as it was made in a completely different style of work and included child actors and around 25 crew members.
So in that [sense] I evolved a lot, but [at the] same time it doesn’t mean making your next film is any easier than the last one. I doubt you can prepare for this kind of documentary, as you have to be open to the unexpected. It’s more like an experience of falling through the ice. Before “People I Know” I was preparing for a completely different film, the kind where you have lots more control. And then I received the call from Michael to visit him and his wife in a trailer. Once we went there with my cinematographer Tom Stankiewicz, we forgot about all other plans and we kept shooting for the last two years.
“Invisible” captures Krystyna and her poetry using a fly-on-the-wall fashion. Will “People I Know” operate similarly stylistically?
Yes, “People I Know” will be stylistically similar in terms of creating the “feeling of being there.” I like to leave the audience alone with my characters.
Zofia Pregowska is a documentary filmmaker from Warsaw, Poland. She graduated from Warsaw Film School for film directing and her documentary debut, Invisible, premiered at IDFA and went on to win 19 awards including the Short Documentary Jury Award at the New Orleans International Film Festival in 2014. In 2015, she made her production debut with A Brave Bunch: Uprising Through Children’s Eyes. She operates her own production company, Prego Media – Handmade Films, where she works as a director and producer.
Post by Morgan Lee Hulquist, 2017 Summer Communications Intern.
Congratulations to all Nest-supported filmmakers at Sheffield Doc/Fest this year! Our programs team will be there with the 2017 Accelerator Lab cohort for first- and second-time filmmakers so if you’re around, come say hello.
Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films and filmmakers at 2017 Sheffield:
- World Premiere: Armed With Faith, directed by Asad Faruqi and Geeta Gandbhir*
- UK Premiere: Do Donkeys Act?, directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin*
- World Premiere: Even When I Fall, directed by Kate McLarnon and Sky Neal
- World Premiere: Insha’Allah Democracy, directed by Mohammed Naqvi*
- UK Premiere: Motherland, directed by Ramona S. Diaz
- UK Premiere: Strong Island, directed by Yance Ford
- European Premiere: The Departure, directed by Lana Wilson
- UK Premiere: Unrest, directed by Jennifer Brea
- European Premiere: Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Folayan and co-directed by Damon Davis
*Chicken & Egg pictures did not support Armed With Faith, Do Donkeys Act?, and Insha’Allah Democracy, but did support Geeta Gandhbir for A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, Love the Sinner, and A Conversation with Police on Race (NY Times Op-Doc); Ashley Sabin for Girl Model; and Mohammed Maqvi’s film Among the Believers. And, as a 2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient, Geeta has received support from Chicken & Egg Pictures in the forms of a $50,000 unrestricted grant, individualized mentorship, and creative and professional workshops.
Go to the Sheffield Doc/Fest website for more information and the full lineup.
In New York instead? Check out Nest-supported films and filmmakers at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival (June 9-18).