Chicken & Egg Pictures is celebrating the holiday season by featuring a dozen Nest-supported women and gender non-conforming filmmakers. For more Dozen Days of Filmmakers, see here.
Daresha Kyi writes, produces, and directs documentary and narrative film and all kinds of television in Spanish and English. A natural born storyteller, she made her first short, experimental film, Schism, at the age of 16. Currently, she is in post production on the Nest-supported feature documentary Mama Bears about how conservative, Christian mothers are transformed when they decide to accept their LGBTQ children. In 2018, she was commissioned by the ACLU to direct Trans In America: Texas Strong which garnered over 3 million views online, screened at SXSW, won two Webby Awards, and received the Emmy for Outstanding Short Documentary in 2019.
In 2017, she co-directed Chavela, a multiple award-winning documentary about iconic singer Chavela Vargas and produced Dispatches From Cleveland. A 2019 Chicken & Egg (Egg)celerator Lab grantee, 2019 Creative Capital Awardee, and 2017-18 Firelight Documentary Lab Fellow, Daresha Kyi has also produced programming for FX, We TV, AMC, Telemundo, and Fuse, among others. She holds a degree in Film and Television from New York University and attended the directing program at the American Film Institute conservatory.
We’d like to thank The (Television) Academy! These Nest-supported films and filmmakers received awards at the 40th Annual News & Documentary Emmy®s:
I Am Evidence
Directed by Geeta Gandbhir
Armed With Faith
Co-directed by Asad Faruqi, Geeta Gandbhir
Outstanding Politics and Government Documentary
Trans in America: Texas Strong
Directed by Daresha Kyi (Mama Bears)
Outstanding Short Documentary
It Will Be Chaos
Directed by Lorena Luciano and Filippo Piscopo
Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary
And congratulations to Survivors and Unrest for their nominations:
Directed by Arthur Pratt, Barmmy Boy, Anna Fitch, Banker White
Outstanding Social Issue Documentary
Directed by Jennifer Brea and edited by Emiliano Battista, Kim Roberts
Outstanding Editing: Documentary
*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not directly support I Am Evidence or Armed with Faith, but supports director Geeta Gandbhir as a 2017 Chicken & Egg Award recipient; and did not support the short documentary Trans in America: Texas Strong, but is a supporter of the feature-length documentary Mama Bears, directed by Daresha Kyi, which is a participant of the 2019 (Egg)celerator Lab.
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 Nico 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.
Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to announce the fourth cohort of our (Egg)celerator Lab—previously known as Accelerator Lab—for emerging filmmakers. The (Egg)celerator Lab program is focused on identifying and supporting women and gender non-conforming nonfiction directors working on their first or second feature-length documentary.
This year’s (Egg)celerator Lab cohort is made up of 90% women directors of color; six first-time filmmakers and four second-time filmmakers; includes three directors telling LGBTQ stories; hails from seven different countries, including Colombia, Pakistan, and South Africa; and consists of women who have worked across the documentary landscape—from audio producers to cinematographers.
Loglines of the 2019 (Egg)celerator Lab grantees’ projects are below. Click on the project title to get to know these filmmakers and the projects they will be working on during their program year.
Milisuthando (Working Title), directed by Milisuthando Bongela (SOUTH AFRICA)
In this coming-of-age story, Milisuthando—a black South African unaware of apartheid until it ended—explores how blacks and whites first lived together after 342 years of racial segregation.
An Act of Worship, directed by Nausheen Dadabhoy (US/PAKISTAN)
An Act of Worship follows a new generation of Muslim-American women activists who have been galvanized into action while anti-Muslim sentiments are on the rise.
#Mickey, directed by Betzabé García (MEXICO)
Born in Sinaloa, Mickey found in internet a platform where she can explore her transgender identity and deal with her homophobic environment.
Paths of Fire and Water, directed by Viviana Gómez Echeverry (COLOMBIA)
Camilo is a young black man adopted by an indigenous family, who is now looking for his biological mother to understand who he really is.
We Are Inside, directed by Farah Kassem (LEBANON)
Returning to Mustapha’s house in radicalised Tripoli, Farah decides to join her father’s all male poetry club: a living memorial of past times.
Untitled PRC Project, directed by Jessica Kingdon (US)
Untitled PRC Project is a kaleidoscopic journey through China’s industrial supply chain, revealing paradoxes born from prosperity of the world’s emergent superpower.
Mama Bears, directed by Daresha Kyi (US)
Mama Bears explores the many ways in which the lives of conservative, Christian mothers are utterly transformed when they decide to accept their LGBTQ children.
Silent Beauty, directed by Jasmin López (MEXICO/US)
Silent Beauty is an autobiographical exploration of one woman’s family history with child sexual abuse and a culture of silence.
Pray Away, directed by Kristine Stolakis (US)
Pray Away tells the story of the history and continuation of the “pray the gay away” or ex-gay movement.
Sara: A Fearless Dream, co-directed by Sara Khaki (pictured above) and Mohammad Reza Eyni (pictured below) (IRAN/US)
Sara takes the first council seat as the first female in her native male-dominated Iranian village. Sara: A Fearless Dream captures her as she takes a dangerous road to success.
Our next Open Call for the (Egg)celerator Lab will take place in the spring of 2020. For additional information on the program, including application criteria, please visit our Programs page.
* The parentheses next to the directors’ names indicate the directors’ country or countries of origin.