June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the beginning of the modern LGBTQ liberation movement and Pride month in the US and other participating countries. At Chicken & Egg Pictures, we are proud to support filmmakers who use intimate storytelling to showcase diverse queer stories and characters and support filmmakers who identify as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community.
Their films are powerful tools for catalyzing social change and helping to end discrimination; their stories have been and will continue to be an important part of Chicken & Egg Pictures. And this June, we encourage you to revisit these Nest-supported films that have premiered over the past fourteen years—films that increased visibility for queer issues (The F Word: A Foster-to-Adoption Story, From This Day Forward), changed hearts and minds about important human rights topics (Southwest of Salem, Love the Sinner), and helped to build momentum in LGBTQ movements around the world (Freeheld, Call Me Kuchu).
Season two of The F Word: A Foster-to-Adopt Story, directed by Nicole Opper is supported by the Chicken & Egg Pictures Impact & Innovation Initiative. Season 1 of The F Word revealed the story of one queer couple adopting from foster care in Oakland, CA. Season 2 continues their story while amplifying other voices in the foster care world: birth families, foster youth, adoptees, adoptive parents of color, and social entrepreneurs working to repair a broken system. Stream both seasons for free here.
From This Day Forward, directed by Sharon Shattuck, is a moving portrayal of an American family coping with one of the most intimate of transformations. When the director’s father came out as transgender and changed her name to Trisha, Sharon was in the awkward throes of middle school. Her father’s transition to female was difficult for her straight-identified mother, Marcia, to accept, but her parents stayed together. As the Shattucks reunite to plan Sharon’s wedding, she seeks a deeper understanding of how her parents’ marriage survived the radical changes that threatened to tear them apart.
Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four, directed by Deborah S. Esquenazi excavates the nightmarish persecution of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez — four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of allegedly gang raping two little girls. This bizarre case is the first to be adjudicated under momentous new legislation: for the first time in US history, wrongfully convicted innocents can challenge convictions based on debunked scientific evidence. The film also unravels the sinister interplay of mythology, homophobia, and prosecutorial fervor which led to this modern day witch hunt. In October 2016, Southwest of Salem had its US television premiere on Investigation Discovery to an audience of one million people, breaking viewership records. In November 2016, the San Antonio Four were exonerated by the Court of Criminal Appeals, and Southwest of Salem was cited in their report. Listen to a podcast about the film’s successful impact campaign here.
Love the Sinner, co-directed by Jessica Devaney and Geeta Gandbhir (also a 2017 Chicken & Egg Award recipient), is a personal documentary in which queer filmmaker Jessica Devaney has a dialogue with evangelical Christians, exploring the connection between Christianity and homophobia in the wake of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Love the Sinner has a corresponding curriculum and discussion guide, created with the support of Bertha Foundation, helping to frame conversations in church youth groups, classrooms, student organizations, and more.
Freeheld, directed by Cynthia Wade follows detective Lieutenant Laurel Hester, who spent 25 years investigating tough cases in Ocean County, New Jersey, as she fights against the that same county’s Board of Chosen Freeholders to give her earned pension benefits to her partner, Stacie in the face of terminal lung cancer. Freeheld won the Academy Award® for Best Documentary Short Subject. The film’s ten-city theatrical release included 35 individual theatrical screenings spanning nine states, and provided a natural outreach platform for panels, press, and public dialogue concerning LGBTQ equality around the 2008 national election (when marriage rights were pending on many state ballots).
Call Me Kuchu, co-directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall (also a 2019 Chicken & Egg Award recipient) and Katherine Fairfax Wright, follows David Kato, Uganda’s first openly gay man, and retired Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, as they work against the clock to defeat state-sanctioned homophobia while combatting vicious persecution in their daily lives. But no one is prepared for the brutal murder that shakes their movement to its core and sends shock waves around the world. Since the premiere of Call Me Kuchu, Ugandan activists have participated in 29 Q&As in conjunction with screenings across the world. The film was screened by the US State Department at the International AIDS Conference, and shown to the British Parliament and the High Commissioners of Commonwealth Countries. Call Me Kuchu has screened across Africa, and was featured as the opening event for the first ever Uganda Pride in 2012.
In addition to this roster of queer films previously supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures—three out of ten films participating in the current cohort of the (Egg)celerator Lab tell queer stories: Pray Away, of the history and continuation of the “pray the gay away” or ex-gay movement; Mama Bears, about LGBTQ people who grew up in conservative, christian homes with ferociously loving and accepting mothers, who call themselves “mama bears”; and #Mickey, about someone exploring her sexual identity and dealing with the deep homophobia of her environment through the internet.
You can find out more about them and other queer films we’ve supported at this link: http://bit.ly/CHICKENEGGLGBTQ.
Today is International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. This year’s International Women’s Day theme is balance—promoting the need for equality and a gender-balanced world.
Chicken & Egg Pictures is honoring women’s voices today by looking back on the many Nest-supported films about women and girls and looking forward at some powerful films to come. Through the lenses of empathy, intimacy, and dignity, these films represent the diverse complexities of what it means to be a woman or girl in our world today. We hope these Nest-supported filmmakers and their work lead to a more balanced film industry.
Get your International Women’s Day inspiration by streaming these egg-cellent women-directed and women-centered films:
After Tiller, co-directed by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson (also a Chicken & Egg Award recipient), paints a complex, compassionate portrait of the four American doctors left who openly provide third-trimester abortions. Since the assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas in May 2009, these physicians have become the new number-one targets of the anti-abortion movement, yet continue to risk their lives every day to do work that many believe is murder, but which they believe is profoundly important for their patients’ lives.
After Tiller is available on Amazon Prime.
The Apology, directed by Tiffany Hsiung, 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.
The Apology is available on Amazon Prime.
Heroin(e), directed by 2016 Chicken & Egg Award recipient Elaine McMillion Sheldon, follows three women—a fire chief, a judge and a missionary—who are battling America’s modern opioid epidemic in Huntington, West Virginia, once a bustling industrial town, now a place with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness, and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Elaine McMillion Sheldon shows a different side of the fight against drugs—one of hope.
Heroin(e) is available on Netflix.
American Revolutionary: The Evolution Of Grace Lee Boggs, directed by Grace Lee (also a Chicken & Egg Award recipient) tells the story of Grace Lee Boggs, a 98-year-old Chinese American woman whose vision of revolution will surprise you. A writer, activist, and philosopher rooted for more than 70 years in the African American movement, she has devoted her life to an evolving revolution that encompasses the contradictions of America’s past and its potentially radical future.
American Revolutionary: The Evolution Of Grace Lee Boggs is available on Netflix.
Pashtana’s Lesson, directed by Beth Murphy, follows the story of a young girl living in the rural Afghan village of Deh’Subz, on the outskirts of Kabul Province, as she resists an arranged marriage so that she may attend Zabuli Education Center, the first girls’ school in the area.
In 2016, Pashtana’s Lesson debuted as a New York Times Op-Doc. To watch, visit the New York Times Op-Docs website. What Tomorrow Brings, the feature-length documentary on which Pashtana’s Lesson is based, aired on PBS’s POV series and is available on Amazon Prime.
Moving on to the rest of March, Women’s History Month: In a year when women are mobilizing and running for office in unprecedented numbers, tune into PBS for Women, War, and Peace II, the acclaimed documentary series which presents four women-directed films exploring the pivotal role women are playing in dramatic conflicts and peace settlements across the globe. This season, three out of four films featured are Nest-supported projects. Check your local listings for exact times and dates.
The Trials of Spring, directed by Gini Reticker debuts Monday, March 25. The film follows the journeys of three Egyptian women from the early days of the 2011 Arab Spring until today: Hend, from a rural military family, awaiting a harsh prison sentence for protesting against military rule; Miriam, an activist fighting to end sexual assault; and Mama Khadiga, a formerly veiled widow who became a caretaker of the revolutionaries. Their intersecting stories reveal the vital and underreported role women play in shaping the region’s future.
Naila and the Uprising, directed by Julia Bacha debuts Tuesday, March 26. Weaving together interviews, news footage, and expressive animation, award-winning documentarian Julia Bacha (also a Chicken & Egg Award recipient) 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.
A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, co-directed by Geeta Gandbhir (also a Chicken & Egg Award recipient), Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (also on our Eggsperts advisory board), and Perri Peltz, debuts Tuesday, March 26. The film follows an all-female, Bangladeshi unit of UN peacekeepers as they leave their friends, families and all familiarity for deployment abroad in Haiti. The film examines how this journey forever alters their lives while illuminating the unique role that women play in restoring peace in the world’s most volatile regions.
Nest-supported films about women and girls to look out for in the future:
Writing With Fire, directed by Rintu Thomas & Sushmit Ghosh (2018 (Egg)celerator Lab), tells the story of a newspaper run entirely by rural women in one of the most socially oppressive and patriarchal states of India. Meera, its popular reporter, decides to magnify the paper’s impact with an audacious move—to transform from print to a digital news agency. Working in media dark villages, mocked and discouraged, this is the story of a visionary woman’s feisty spirit in building what will probably be the world’s first digital news agency run entirely by rural women.
Writing With Fire is currently in production.
Reentry (Working Title), directed by Jennifer Redfearn (2018 (Egg)celerator Lab), is an immersive, character-driven film follows three women—who are part of a new reentry program in Cleveland, Ohio—as they prepare to leave prison, reunite with their children, and find jobs after serving time for drug-related charges.
Reentry is currently in post production.
Rajada Dalka/Nation’s Hope, directed by Hana Mire
(2016 Diversity Fellows Initiative; 2017 (Egg)celerator Lab), follows the Somali National Women’s basketball team in their first season since the civil war, as veteran coach Suad Galow shepherds her team of fearless young women and helps them to overcome the violent threats against them from members of the Al-Shabab militia and reclaim their place on the international stage.
Rajada Dalka/Nation’s Hope is currently in post production.
The 2017 DOC NYC Film Festival features three films that Chicken & Egg Pictures has supported directly. Running November 9-16, 2017 in Manhattan, the DOC NYC Film Festival is America’s largest documentary film festival.
Check out the full lineup of films, shorts, panels, and showcases here!
Lovesick (World Premiere)
Directed by Priya Desai and Ann Kim
In India, a culture obsessed with marriage but where AIDS is an unspeakable disease, can you find love and companionship if you’re HIV+? Ancient tradition and the new reality of HIV collide. Lovesick is the modern love story that results. Tickets and showtimes available here.
32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide (NYC Premiere)
Directed by Hope Litoff
A reflection on the life and suicide of Ruth Litoff, a successful artist, a pathological liar, and the filmmaker’s sister. By looking back on Ruth’s incredible highs and lows, bursts of creative genius, depression, secrets, and lies, a vivid portrait will emerge of the brilliant woman the filmmaker is not sure she ever really knew. This is her attempt to understand what happened. Tickets and showtimes available here.
Directed by Yance Ford
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. Tickets and showtimes available here.
A big congratulations, also, to these Nest-supported filmmakers whose films are also screening at DOC NYC:
Katherine Fairfax Wright, Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall
Mohammed Naqvi, Insha’allah Democracy
Geeta Gandbhir, Armed With Faith
Julia Bacha, Naila and the Uprising
Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman, Nobody Loves Me
Lucy Walker, Oh, What a Beautiful City (A City Symphony)
Laura Poitras, Risk
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).
We are proud to announce this year’s Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films and filmmakers at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival.
The Departure (World Documentary Competition)
Directed by Lana Wilson
Love the Sinner (Shorts: Viewfinder, World Premiere)
Directed by Geeta Gandbhir and Jessica Devaney
Tree (Virtual Arcade, New York Premiere)
Project Creators: Winslow Turner Porter and Milica Zec
Unrest* (Virtual Arcade, World Premiere)
Project Creators: Arnaud Colinart, Jennifer Brea, Amaury La Burthe
Key Collaborators: Diana Barrett (Fledgling Fund), Lindsey Dryden (Little By Little Films)
For more information and the full roster of films at the Tribeca Film Festival this year, please visit the Tribeca website.
*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not fund the film I Am Evidence, but supports director Geeta Gandbhir as a 2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Awardee; and did not support the Unrest VR experience, but is a supporter of Unrest the feature-length film by Jennifer Brea.