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.
The DOC NYC Film Festival recently released their inaugural 40 Under 40 List, sponsored by Topic Studios, honoring documentary talents under the age of 40. Of the 40 artists selected, over half are women. Congratulations to all on this honor!
Assia Boundaoui, director of The Feeling of Being Watched (2016 Accelerator Lab and recipient of The Whickers Chicken & Egg Pictures Award)
Nausheen Dadabhoy, director of An Act of Worship (2018 Diversity Fellows Initiative)
Jessica Devaney, co-director of Love the Sinner (2016 Impact and Innovation Initiative), and producer of the Nest-supported films Always in Season, The Feeling of Being Watched, Roll Red Roll, and Speed Sisters.
Sabaah Folayan, director of Whose Streets? (2016 Accelerator Lab). Whose Streets? premiered on PBS on July 30.
Farihah Zaman, co-director of Remote Area Medical
And congratulations to our other Nest friends!
- Erin Casper, editor of Roll Red Roll (dir. Nancy Schwartzman)
- Mariam Dwedar, camera operator for On Her Shoulders (dir. Alexandria Bombach, 2018 SXSW LUNA/Chicken & Egg Pictures Award recipient)
- Danielle Vega, co-producer of Cameraperson (dir. Kirsten Johnson, 2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award)
Check out more DOC NYC news from the Nest.
We are thrilled to learn that Catapult Film Fund has recognized several of our supported filmmakers with grants this year. Catapult focuses on supporting “powerful and moving storytelling, by filmmakers with a strong voice across a broad spectrum of subject matter,” and providing funding that will enable filmmakers to move forward to the next stage of production.* Congratulations to Jessica, Kelly, Lyric, Michèle, and Penny!
Check out more information about these films, and others, here.
The Rashomon Effect
Directed by Lyric R. Cabral (Accelerator Lab 2017) and produced by Jessica Devaney (Impact & Innovation Initiative, 2016)
What happened when unarmed Black teen Michael Brown was fatally shot by White police officer Darren Wilson?**
Directed by Kelly Duane de la Vega (Application Cycle 2013)
Mississippi Red looks at American feminism through the lens of race, religion and the political establishment as a pair of bipartisan allies fight to pass an equal pay bill in one of the most conservative states in the union.**
Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni film
Directed by Michèle Stephenson (Breakthrough Filmmaker Award, 2016) and Joe Brewster
Through intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of her poetry, Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni film pushes the boundaries of biographical documentary film to reveal the enduring influence of one of America’s greatest living artists and social commentators.**
Untitled Religious Activism Documentary
Directed by Penny Lane (Breakthrough Filmmaker Awards, 2017)
* = From Catapult Film Fund About Us page.
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.
Many filmmakers prefer working behind the camera, not in front of it, but talking about your film on TV, radio, and on panels provides enormous exposure for your film and the issues it tackles. Filmmaker Jessica Devaney and publicist Adam Segal of The 2050 Group joined our New York mentorship to shed some light on media presentations and dispel some common fears around media interviews.
Here are their tips for giving your best media interviews:
Tell the story you want to tell.
Remember: as a filmmaker you are a storyteller, not a pundit. In media scenarios you are in charge of the story you present and you can direct the conversation toward what you want people to know about your film. Don’t just answer the questions. Ask yourself: what sentence do I need to say for this to be successful? Make sure you don’t get up till you say that sentence.
Avoid jargon or overly technical vocabulary; don’t alienate your audience with big words or phrases they might not understand. Neutralize distracting physical tics like touching your hair or fiddling with jewelry.
Do your homework.
Talk to the producer and find out what they’re going to ask you. Look up when they last interviewed someone like you or talked with someone on your topic (via tracie). Observe what kinds of questions they asked or what angle they took.
Keep a cool head.
If you are a person who gets worked up, practice talking about hot button issues without losing your cool. If you make a mistake or say some wrong information, correct it before someone else does.
There’s strength in numbers.
If you want to take the focus off yourself, bring one of your subjects in the film with you.
Make sure your assets and materials are versatile.
Put together clips and assets that can be reused in different settings or shared in a different context.