The Whickers recently announced the recipient of the 2018 The Whickers/Chicken & Egg Pictures Award: congratulations to Ilinca Calugareanu and the A Cops and Robbers Story team!
Named for pioneering British broadcaster Alan Whicker, The Whickers is dedicated to supporting emerging voices in the field of documentary. The award, focused on Accelerator Lab participants, was conceived to ensure that more women enter the nonfiction filmmaking pipeline. Previous recipients include The Feeling of Being Watched by Assia Boundaoui and The Surrender of Waymond Hall by Jane Greenberg.
A Cops and Robbers Story follows Corey Pegues, one of the highest ranking black executives in the NYPD, who revealed 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. The project was recently featured as a docustory in The Guardian. Said director Ilinca Calugareanu, “It is such an honour to be this year’s recipient of The Whickers/Chicken & Egg Pictures Award. Thank you for believing in us and in the importance of Corey Pegues’s story. Your support means so much!”
Ilinca’s debut documentary feature, Chuck Norris vs. Communism, is currently available for streaming on Netflix.
Post by 2018 Communications Intern Morgan Lee Hulquist.
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.
The Sheffield Doc/Fest 2017 just wrapped and we are proud to announce the Chicken & Egg-supported filmmakers who were awarded at Sheffield Doc/Fest this year: Yance Ford for Strong Island, Jennifer Brea for Unrest and Unrest (VR)*, and Violeta Ayala for The Fight*.
Directed by Yance Ford
Tim Hetherington Award, presented by Dogwoof and the Tim Hetherington Trust.
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.
Called a “brave, revealing film” and a “stylish and wrenching rumination on familial grief” by the New York Times, Strong Island was one of six films considered for the Tim Hetherington award which recognizes films and filmmakers for reflecting journalist Tim Hetherington’s legacy. It is streaming now on Netflix.
Unrest and Unrest (VR)
Directed by Jennifer Brea
Illuminate Award supported by Welcome; Alternate Realities VR Award.
Unrest tells the story of Jennifer by Jennifer, a Harvard Ph.D. student, who 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.
Unrest (VR) is the virtual reality project based on the Chicken & Egg-supported documentary. Tiffany Pritchard from Filmmaker Magazine writes, “Unrest (VR) is a 10-minute immersive experience that takes place from a bed, where I lay down and, with an Oculus Rift, experienced what it’s like to be confined to a room with the debilitating illness ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis). Through a nod of my head, I was navigated through insightful experiences that provided scientific inner workings of our brains.”
Congratulations to Jennifer for her two wins!
Directed by Violeta Ayala and Daniel Fallshaw
Doc/Dispatch Prize supported by Deutsche Welle.
The Fight is a short documentary, produced by The Guardian, which tells the story of disabled people in Bolivia fighting for their rights by journeying across the Andes to La Paz, where they are met with violence by police.
Violeta’s Nest-supported film, Cocaine Prison, documents the inside of one of Bolivia’s most notorious prisons, telling the story of a cocaine worker fighting for freedom, a drug mule who dreams of being a drug boss, and his younger sister, to reveal the country’s relationship with cocaine. Cocaine Prison bridges the ever-widening gap between the North and the South and brings a new perspective to the War on Drugs as it is waged in the Andes.
*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not support Unrest (VR) or The Fight directly, but did support both Jennifer and Violeta in their feature-length films. Jennifer Brea received a grant for Unreal, and Violeta Ayala received a grant for Cocaine Prison.
Post by Morgan Hulquist, Summer 2017 Chicken & Egg Pictures 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).