The Nest at 2022 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival

We are egg-static to see eight supported films, and seven AlumNest films in the 29th Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival line-up. This edition will take place in-cinemas in Toronto and will stream across Canada from Thursday, April 28 to Sunday, May 8.  

The festival stated that 49% of the official selections were directed by women, maintaining its commitment to a roughly 50-50 gender split.

World Premiere

Silent Beauty

dir. & prod. Jasmin Lopez

Silent Beauty Jasmin Mara López
Still from Silent Beauty

A personal documentary that follows Director Jasmin López as she works to heal from child sexual abuse she endured at the hands of her grandfather, Gilberto, a Baptist minister, almost thirty years ago. In the process of sharing her own trauma with her large family, she learns that generations of children in her family were victims of the same abuse. Told from the director’s perspective, Silent Beauty is a film about confronting and accepting difficult truths while finding beauty in the process. 

Silent Beauty is a 2019 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and is having its World Premiere in the Persister section. 

Get your tickets + more info with this link.


Alis

dirs.& prods.  Clare Weiskopf, Nicolas van Hemelryck

prods. Radu Stancu, Alexandra Galvis

A young woman is on her knees, with her hands on top of them, her eyes are closed and behind here there are shelfs
Still from Alis

In a Colombian shelter for teenage girls, filmmakers ask a group of young women to close their eyes and imagine the life story of a fictional classmate named Alis. As reality prevails and fiction fades, the innocent game becomes a descent into hell, where their luminous faces guide the audience to the depths of the dark world they once inhabited, only to emerge with new skin. How to imagine a different life, break the cycle of violence, and embrace a brighter future? 

Alis
is a 2022 (Egg)celerator Lab finalist and is part of Made In Chile: A spotlight on docs from Chile

Get your tickets + more info with this link.


All of Our Heartbeats Are Connected Through Exploding Stars

(previously titled Stories From Debris)

dir. Jennifer Rainsford

prods. Mirjam Gelhorn, David Herdies, Michael Krotkiewski

Still from All of Our Heartbeats Are Connected Through Exploding Stars

The 2011 Japan tsunami triggers this staggering essay about loss that connects human and environmental trauma using astonishing juxtapositions. Humans breathe out and the oceans breathe in, so that we are constantly breathing together and becoming our planet. If we admit that our human experiences of pain and the Earth’s are just different versions of the same destruction, will recovery come, be it in ripples or waves?* 

All of Our Heartbeats Are Connected Through Exploding Stars is a 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and is part of the World Showcase section.

Get your tickets + more info with this link.


Boycott

dir & prod. Julia Bacha

prod. Suhad Babaa, Daniel J. Chalfen

Still from Boycott

When a news publisher in Arkansas, an attorney in Arizona and a speech therapist in Texas are told to choose between their jobs and their political beliefs, they launch legal battles that expose an attack on freedom of speech in 33 states in America.

Boycott was supported through Julia Bacha’s 2019 Chicken & Egg Award, and is a Hot Docs Special Presentation.  

Get your tickets + more info with this link.


Eskape

dir. Neary Adeline Hay

prods. Jasmin Basic

Still from Eskape

The survival story of a mother and her daughter, the filmmaker, through the desperate flight from a crumbling Cambodia after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge regime. Faced with the silence brought by trauma and time, the longing to understand her mother today resonates in an abysmal echo, while reviving the memories as a political refugee in Europe.

Eskape is a 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and is having its North American premiere in the Hidden Stories section. 

Get your tickets + more info with this link.


Midwives

dir. & prod. Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing

prods. Bob Moore, Ulla Lehmann, Mila Aung-Thwin

Still from Midwives

A tale of the complicated relationship between Rohingya and Buddhists in Myanmar, told over five years through the eyes of two midwives from either side of the divide. 

Midwives is a 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and is having its Canadian premiere as a HotDocs Special Presentation

Get your tickets + more info with this link.


Mija

dir. & prod. Isabel Castro

prod. Tabs Breese, Yesenia Tlahuel

Close up to the face of Doris singing
Still from Mija

With Doris’ voice as our guide, Mija uses VHS archive, verité footage, and camcorder vlogging to tell the story of two young women’s coming-of-age journeys as they look for success and belonging. The film is an immensely emotional and intimate portrait honoring the resilience of immigrants and their children. 

Mija is a 2021 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and is part of the Artscapes section. 

Get your tickets + more info with this link.


Once Upon a Time in Uganda

dir. Cathryne Czubek, co-dir. Hugo Perez

prods. Gigi Dement, Cathryne Czubek, Matt Porwoll, Hugo Perez, Kyaligamba Ark Martin

2017 Accelerator Lab Cathryne Czubek Hugo Perez Lights Camera Uganda
Still from Once Upon a Time in Uganda

Against all odds, former bricklayer and teacher Isaac Nabwana has turned his small home in the slums of Uganda’s capital city into the Wakaliwood action movie studio. After 10 years and 40+ films, Wakaliwood has become an overnight international media sensation, inspiring others around the world to follow in his footsteps. When New York film nerd Alan Hofmanis shows up on his doorstep one day, everything is bound to change. 

Once Upon a Time in Uganda is a 2017 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and is part of the Nightvision section. 

Get your tickets + more info with this link.


From the AlumNest

 


Check out the full line-up with this link.  

*Language courtesy of Hot Docs.

Nest-supported films at San Francisco International Film Festival!

We are egg-cited to see three Nest-supported filmmakers, and two AlumNest filmmakers participating at the 65th San Francisco Film Festival, taking place from Thursday, April 22 through Sunday May 1, with a full in-person lineup.

Mija

dir. & prod. Isabel Castro

prod. Tabs Breese, Yesenia Tlahuel

Close up to the face of Doris singing
Still from Mija

With Doris’ voice as our guide, Mija uses VHS archive, verité footage, and camcorder vlogging to tell the story of two young women’s coming-of-age journeys as they look for success and belonging. The film is an immensely emotional and intimate portrait honoring the resilience of immigrants and their children. 

Mija
is a 2021 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and is part of the McBaine Documentary Feature Competition.


Black Mothers Love & Resist

dir. & prod. Débora Souza Silva

prod. David Felix Sutcliffe

Still from Black Mothers Love & Resist

Wanda Johnson and Angela Williams, mothers of young Black men victimized by police brutality, come together and build a network of community-led support, mutual aid, and healing in this trenchant documentary. 

Black Mothers Love & Resist
is a 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and is part of the Documentaries: USA section.


Midwives

dir. & prod. Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing

prods. Bob Moore, Ulla Lehmann, Mila Aung-Thwin

Still from Midwives

A tale of the complicated relationship between Rohingya and Buddhists in Myanmar, told over five years through the eyes of two midwives from either side of the divide. 

Midwives
is a 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee and is part of the Documentaries: USA section.


From the AlumNest

  • The Janes
    dirs. Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes
    prods. Emma Pildes, Daniel Arcana, Jessica Levin

  • TikTok, Boom.
    dir. & prod. Shalini Kantayya
    prods. Ross M. Dinerstein, Danni Mynard

A special shout out to our Co-Founder & Board President Julie Parker Benello, producer of Sell/Buy/Date (dir. & prod. Sarah Jones, prods. David Goldblum, Julie Parker Benello), screening in the Documentaries: USA section.


Check out the full line-up with this link.

Nest-supported filmmakers at CPH:DOX 2022!

We are proud to see three Nest-supported, and two AlumNest films at CPH:DOX 2022! After two years, the festival is returning in-person to the big screen with 200 new films, 76 world premieres, and 59 competition titles across six international categories. 

The festival will run in Copenhagen cinemas from Wednesday, March 23 through Sunday, April 3, and stream throughout Denmark from Friday, April 1 to Sunday, April 10.

Electric Malady

dir. Marie Lidén

prod. Aimara Reques, Lorna Jane Ferguson

Electric Malady Marie Lidén 2018 Accelerator Lab
Still from Electric Malady

Allergic to electronics and isolated in the Swedish wilderness in a homemade turtle shell of thick blankets. Meet 40-year-old William, whose mysterious condition is not recognised by the world.

Electric Malady is a 2018 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee. As well as having its world premiere at the festival, the film will also be participating in the Nordic:Dox Award Competition

Get your tickets with this link.


Midwives

dir. & prod. Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing

prods. Bob Moore, Ulla Lehmann, Mila Aung-Thwin

Still from Midwives

A tale of the complicated relationship between Rohingya and Buddhists in Myanmar, told over five years through the eyes of two midwives from either side of the divide. 

Midwives is a 2020 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee, and its first screening at the festival will mark its European premiere. It is participating in the Dox:Award Competition

Get your tickets with this link.


Mija

dir. & prod. Isabel Castro

prods. Tabitha Breese, Yesenia Tlahuel

Still from Mija
Still from Mija

A tale of the complicated relationship between Rohingya and Buddhists in Myanmar, told over five years through the eyes of two midwives from either side of the divide. 

Mija is a 2021 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee, and its screenings at the Sound & Vision section will mark its international premiere.  

Get your tickets with this link.


AlumNest Films

dir. & prod. Shalini Kantayya (Coded Bias)
prods. Ross M. Dinerstein, Danni Mynard 

dir. Rachel Lears (The Hand That Feeds)
prod. Sabrina Schmidt Gordon


Meet Our Team at CPH:DOX 2022

Headshot Jaad AsanteFilmmaker Engagement Manager Jaad Asante will be attending CPH:FORUM from Thursday, March 28 through Friday, April 1. If you are visiting CPH:DOX and would like to meet Jaad, please feel free to contact her to hatch a plan.

📧 Jaad Asante 
jaad@chickeneggpics.org


Take a look at the full line-up with this link.

Chicken & Egg Pictures at SXSW 2022!

We are egg-stremely excited to see two Nest-supported films and four AlumNest films in the SXSW 2022 line-up! For the first time in two years, films will have in-person screenings (most will also have online screenings afterwards). 

The festival will take place in Austin, Texas, from Friday, March 11 through Sunday, March 20. Take a look at the films from the Nest below:

Mama Bears

dir. & prod. Daresha Kyi

prod. Laura Tatham

MAMA BEARS DARESHA KYI 2019 Eggcelerator Lab
Still from Mama Bears

Mama Bears is an intimate exploration of two “mama bears”—conservative, Christian mothers who have become fierce advocates for LGBTQ+ people—and a young lesbian whose struggle for self-acceptance exemplifies why the mama bears are so important.  

Mama Bears is a 2019 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee, and is participating in SXSW World Premiere – Documentary Feature Competition. 

Get your tickets with this link.  

Sign up for the Mama Bears doc newsletter to receive updates from the film team.


Boycott

dir & prod. Julia Bacha

prod. Suhad Babaa, Daniel J. Chalfen

Still from Boycott

When a news publisher in Arkansas, an attorney in Arizona and a speech therapist in Texas are told to choose between their jobs and their political beliefs, they launch legal battles that expose an attack on freedom of speech in 33 states in America.

Boycott was supported through Julia Bacha’s 2019 Chicken & Egg Award, and is a SXSW Texas Premiere–Festival Favorites (Acclaimed standouts from festivals around the world).

Get your tickets with this link

Sign up for the Boycott newsletter to receive updates from the film team.


AlumNest films

Look At Me
dir. Sabaah Folayan (Whose Streets?
prods. Darcy McKinnon, Chloe Campion

Video Visit 
dir. & prod. Malika Zouhali-Worrall (2019 Chicken & Egg Award recipient) 

Descendant  
dir. & prod. Margaret Brown (The Great Invisible
prods. Kyle Martin, Essie Chambers

TikTok, Boom.  
dir. & prod. Shalini Kantayya (Coded Bias)
prods. Ross M. Dinerstein, Danni Mynard 


A special shout out to our Co-Founder & Board President Julie Parker Benello, producer of Sell/Buy/Date (dir. & prod. Sarah Jones, prods. David Goldblum, Julie Parker Benello), screening in SXSW World Premiere – Visions.  

Check out the full line-up by visiting this link.

Gender Parity & Nest-supported Films at at Sundance

At Chicken & Egg Pictures we are egg-static to see two (Egg)celerator grantees and feature documentary debuts on the 2022 Sundance Film Festival program: Mija and Midwives, as well as six films by the AlumNest. The festival will come back with a hybrid format, with in-person activities in Park City, Salt Lake City and the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah and with online events from Thursday, January 20 to Sunday, January 30. We are also excited to see that nonfiction films are once again one of the strongest sections of the festival’s program. 

Last week, Director Tabitha Jackson and Director of Programming Kim Yutani, announced this edition’s details. Yutani and Jackson shared important statistics about women filmmakers in their program selection: 

“Of the submissions to Sundance this year, only 28 percent were from women. Yet among all the features selected, 52 percent were directed by women. When asked whether the programmers decided to boost women auteurs over men, they steered around the question, saying they are always looking to promote female filmmakers. Jackson added: “The slightly depressing fact is that the figure of 28 percent submissions from women has remained pretty static across the years. It is a figure that we would wish to see higher because of what it indicates about the state of the industry. It’s surprising that so few are submitting.”

Sundance Film Festival Unveils 2022 Lineup That Reflects ‘Age of Reckoning’, Nicole Sperling

Learn more about Mija, Midwives, and AlumNest films below:


Mija

dir. Isabel Castro

prod. Tabs Breese, Isabel Castro, Yesenia Tlahuel

Still from Mija

Selected as part of the Next category
Premiering on Friday, January 21 

Get your tickets

With Doris’ voice as our guide, Mija uses VHS archive, verité footage, and camcorder vlogging to tell the story of two young women’s coming-of-age journeys as they look for success and belonging. The film is an immensely emotional and intimate portrait honoring the resilience of immigrants and their children. 


Midwives

dir. & prod. Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing

prods. Bob Moore, Ulla Lehmann, Mila Aung-Thwin

Still from Midwives
Still from Midwives

Selected as part of the World Cinema Documentary Competition 
Premiering on Monday, January 24 
Get your tickets

Hla and Nyo Nyo are two midwives that work side by side in a makeshift medical clinic in western Myanmar, where the Rohingya (a Muslim minority community) are persecuted and denied basic rights. Filmed over three tumultuous years, their remarkable relationship reveals both tensions and the hope inherent in their common cause.


From the AlumNest

AlumNest filmmakers are soaring into Sundance’s program in the U.S. Documentary Competition to the World Cinema Documentary Competition:

A special shoutout to 2018 Chicken & Egg Award recipient Natalia Almada, whose 2002 short documentary film All Water Has a Perfect Memory,  will screen online as part of the “From the Collection” program, a line-up of 40 short films selected to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Sundance Institute. Ticket sales start Friday, December, 17.

Nest-supported Filmmakers Nom’d for the NAACP Image Awards!

We were honored to see five Nest-supported filmmakers on the recently announced nominations list for the 52nd annual NAACP Image Awards, which are known for “celebrating outstanding achievement in the areas of film, TV, music and literature—from an African American perspective.”*


Coded Bias — Outstanding Documentary (Film)

Coded Bias, directed by Shalini Kantayya

Coded Bias, directed by Shalini Kantayya, explores the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, and her subsequent journey to push for the first-ever US legislation to govern against bias in artificial intelligence. The documentary aims to shine a light on the threat artificial intelligence poses to civil rights and democracy. The film participated in Project: Hatched 2020.


Through the NightOutstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture)

Through the Night, directed by Loira Limbal

Loira Limbal and her work on Through the Night are nominated for Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture). Through the Night is a verité documentary that explores the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider, whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center in New Rochelle, NY. The film participated in the 2018 (Egg)celerator Lab.


AlumNest filmmakers nominated include Chicken & Egg Award Recipients Yoruba Richen, Dawn Porter, and Grace Lee:

The Sit-In: Harry Belafonte Hosts the Tonight Show by Yoruba Richen — Outstanding Directing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture) and Outstanding Writing in a Documentary (Television or Motion Picture)

And She Could Be Next by Grace Lee and Chicken & Egg Pictures Board Member Marjan Safinia — Outstanding Documentary (Television)

John Lewis: Good Trouble by Dawn Porter — Outstanding Documentary (Film)


Congratulations to all the nominees! We will be watching the awards ceremony from our Nest on Saturday, March 27th at 8 pm ET.

*Language courtesy of NAACP Image Awards.

Shalini Kantayya: Dozen Days of Filmmakers — Day 9

Chicken & Egg Pictures is celebrating the holiday season and saying farewell to 2020 by featuring a dozen Nest-supported women and gender nonconforming filmmakers. For more Dozen Days of Filmmakers, see here.


“This moment is asking us to drop into a deeper place in our humanity to lead. I’m so grateful to the people in my film who have shown me how to do this. There has never been more clarity that the people who have been systematically missing from the conversation have the most to share with us about the way forward.” — Shalini Kantayya, Letters from the AlumNest

Shalini Kantayya’s newest film, Coded Bias, explores the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, and her subsequent journey to push for the first-ever US legislation to govern against bias in artificial intelligence. The documentary aims to shine a light on the threat artificial intelligence poses to civil rights and democracy. Coded Bias participated in our 2020 Project: Hatched program; was an Official Selection at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival; and was featured in The New York Times, Democracy Now!, and Hollywood Reporter. The film is now playing at 70+ virtual cinemas across the US. Support a local movie theater and stream from home: codedbias.com/virtualcinema

Still from Coded Bias, directed by Shalini Kantayya

Shalini’s other credits include directing the season finale episode for the National Geographic television series Breakthrough, a series profiling trailblazing scientists transforming the future, executive produced by Ron Howard, broadcast globally in June 2017. Her debut feature film Catching the Sun, about the race for a clean energy future, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was named a New York Times Critics’ Pick. Catching the Sun released globally on Netflix on Earth Day 2016 with Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio and was nominated for the Environmental Media Association Award for Best Documentary.

Kantayya is a TED Fellow, a William J. Fulbright Scholar, and a finalist for the ABC Disney DGA Directing Program. She is an Associate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

Announcing Project: Hatched 2020 Participants!

Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to announce the first-ever participants of our newest program Project: Hatched, a completion fund which provides a $20,000 grant to selected directors in the lead up to their film premiere. $15,000 of the grant is for finishing funds and $5,000 is earmarked for impact strategy development. Participants also receive ten hours of mentorship focusing on festival premiere support, impact and distribution strategy, and professional development.

We also partnered with our friends at The Fledgling Fund for the
Chicken & Egg Pictures/Fledgling Fund Impact Grant, which provides an additional $20,000 to a Project: Hatched film whose campaign strategy has the ability to shape national and international conversations around the world’s most pressing issues. Congratulations to Coded Bias, directed by Shalini Kantayya, for being the first recipient of the Chicken & Egg Pictures/Fledgling Fund Impact Grant! 

Coded Bias (Chicken & Egg Pictures/Fledgling Fund Impact Grant recipient), directed by Shalini Kantayya, explores the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, and her subsequent journey to push for the first-ever US legislation to govern against bias in artificial intelligence.*

The Fight
, co-directed by Elyse SteinbergJosh Kriegman, and
Eli Despres, documents a team of scrappy ACLU lawyers battling Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties.*

Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, directed by Anabel Rodríguez, follows residents of a small fishing village as they prepare for parliamentary election. Once the village of Congo Mirador was prosperous. Now it is decaying and disintegrating—a prophetic reflection of Venezuela itself.*

*Premiering at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.   

A Full Nest at Sundance at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival

The Sundance Film Festival features line-up was announced today, Wednesday December 4, and we are egg-static for the following women filmmakers, who will be premiering their films at the festival in Park City, Utah from Thursday, January 23 to Sunday, February 2, 2020.

Production still from A Thousand Cuts, directed by Ramona Diaz: Angel Alim with her sister, Maryanne, in a jeepney. Photo by Miguel V. Fabie for CineDiaz.

Coded Bias
Directed by Shalini Kantayya (Project: Hatched 2020)

Exploring the fallout of MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini’s startling discovery that facial recognition does not see dark-skinned faces accurately, and her journey to push for the first-ever legislation in the US to govern against bias in the algorithms that impact us all.

Once Upon a Time in Venezuela 
Directed by Anabel Rodríguez (Project: Hatched 2020)

Once, the village of Congo Mirador was prosperous. Now it is decaying and disintegrating—a prophetic reflection of Venezuela itself.

The Fight
Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres (Project: Hatched 2020)

Inside the ACLU, a team of scrappy lawyers battle Trump’s historic assault on civil liberties.

A Thousand Cuts
Directed by Ramona Diaz (2018 Chicken & Egg Award recipient)*

Nowhere is the worldwide erosion of democracy, fueled by social media disinformation campaigns, more starkly evident than in the authoritarian regime of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Journalist Maria Ressa places the tools of the free press—and her freedom—on the line in defense of truth and democracy.

Dick Johnson Is Dead
Directed by Recipient Kirsten Johnson (2017 Chicken & Egg Award recipient)*

With this inventive portrait, a cameraperson seeks a way to keep her 86-year-old father alive forever. Utilizing moviemaking magic and her family’s dark humor, she celebrates Dr. Dick Johnson’s last years by staging fantasies of death and beyond. Together, dad and daughter confront the great inevitability awaiting us all.

*These films were in development during the filmmaker’s Chicken & Egg Award year.

In addition to these directly supported films, our AlumNest filmmakers (the 300+ talented, diverse women nonfiction directors that we have supported throughout our fifteen years as an organization) are also premiering their films at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival:

Aggie
Directed by Catherine Gund (Born to Fly, Dispatches from Cleveland, and What’s on Your Plate?)

The Last Thing He Wanted
Directed by Dee Rees (Eventual Salvation)

Taylor Swift: Miss Americana
Directed by Lana Wilson (2019 Chicken & Egg Award recipient)

Untitled Kirby Dick/Amy Ziering Film
Directed by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering (The Invisible War)

The Mole Agent
Directed by Maite Alberdi (2020 Chicken & Egg Award recipient) 

Congratulations to these incredible women filmmakers on their Sundance-bound films. We’ll see you in Park City!

The Nest on the 2015 Summer Film Festival Circuit

Summer is here and that means it’s summer film festival season. We are excited to announce that 12 Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films will be shown at 5 Film Festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Sheffield this summer. Congratulations to all of our grantees!

Sheffield Doc/Fest (Sheffield, UK)
June 5-10, 2015

Democrats (Camilla Nielsson)
In the wake of Robert Mugabe’s highly criticized 2008 presidential win, a constitutional committee was created in an effort to transition Zimbabwe away from authoritarian leadership. With unprecedented access to the two political rivals overseeing the committee, this riveting firsthand account of a country’s fraught first step towards democracy plays at once like an intimate political thriller and unlikely buddy film. Click here for showtimes.

Dreamcatcher (Kim Longinotto)
Dreamcatcher is a vivid portrait of Brenda Myers-Powell, a former prostitute, who helps women and young girls break the cycle of sexual abuse and exploitation. The film lays bare the hidden violence that devastates the lives of young women, their families, and the communities where they live. It is Brenda’s unflinching intervention that turns these desperate lives around. Click here for showtimes.

Speed Sisters (Amber Fares)
Despite restrictions on movement, a motor racing scene has emerged in the West Bank. The races offer a release from the pressures and uncertainties of life under military occupation. Brought together by a common desire to live life on their own terms, five determined women have joined the ranks of dozens of male drivers — competing against each other for the title, for bragging rights, for their hometown, and to prove that women can compete head-on with the guys. Speed Sisters captures the drive to defy all odds, leaving in its trail shattered stereotypes about gender and the Arab world. Click here for showtimes.

Speed Sisters, directed by Amber Fares.
Speed Sisters, directed by Amber Fares.

Los Angeles Film Festival (Los Angeles, CA)
June 10-18, 2015

The Babushkas of Chernobyl (Anne Bogart & Holly Morris)
In the radioactive Dead Zone of Chernobyl, a community of elderly Ukrainian women is defiantly clinging to their ancestral homeland. While most of their neighbors have long since fled, this sisterhood is hanging on — thriving, even —  while cultivating an existence on some of the world’s most toxic land. Why Hanna, Maria, and Valentyna chose to live here after the disaster, in defiance of authority, is a tale about the pull of home and the healing power of shaping one’s destiny. Click here for showtimes.

Catching The Sun (Shalini Kantayya)
Catching the Sun asks the hard questions of how a clean energy economy may actually be built, through the stories of unemployed workers seeking to retool at a solar jobs training program in Richmond, California. The film tells the story of environmental transformation from the perspective of workers who may build a solution with their own hands, and their challenges speak to one of the biggest questions of our time: Will America be able to build a clean energy economy? Click here for showtimes.

No Más Bebés (Renee Tajima-Peña)
They came to have their babies. They left sterilized. The story of immigrant mothers who sued county doctors, the state, and the U.S. government after they were prodded into sterilizations while giving birth at the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center during the 1960s and 70s. Led by an intrepid, 26-year-old Chicana lawyer and armed with hospital records secretly gathered by a whistle-blowing young doctor, the mothers faced public exposure and stood up to powerful institutions in the name of justice. Click here for showtimes.

Catching The Sun, directed by Shalini Kantayya
Catching The Sun, directed by Shalini Kantayya

Human Rights Watch Film Festival (New York, NY)
June 12-20, 2015

(T)ERROR (Lyric R. Cabral & David Felix Sutcliffe)
(T)ERROR is the first documentary to place filmmakers on the ground during an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation. Through the perspective of “Shariff”, a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned informant, viewers get an unfettered glimpse of the government’s counterterrorism tactics and the murky justifications behind them. Taut, stark and controversial, (T)ERROR illuminates the fragile relationships between individual and surveillance state in modern America, and asks who is watching the watchers. Click here for showtimes.

The Trials of Spring (Gini Reticker)
The Trials of Spring 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. Click here for showtimes.

What Tomorrow Brings (Beth Murphy)
Special work-in-progress screening
What Tomorrow Brings is a coming-of-age story in which Afghan girls studying at the Zabuli School struggle against tradition and time. They discover that their school is the one place they can turn to understand the differences between the lives they were born into and the lives they dream of leading. At a time when the political and security situation is rapidly changing, the film weaves the interconnected stories of students, teachers, parents, and school founder Razia Jan. Click here for showtimes.

What Tomorrow Brings, directed by Beth Murphy
What Tomorrow Brings, directed by Beth Murphy

AFI Docs (Washington, DC & Silver Spring, MD)
June 17-21, 2015

Among The Believers (Hemal Trivedi & Mohammed Ali Naqvi)
A Pakistani radical cleric, Aziz declares a war against the government to impose Islamic utopia in the country. The government retaliates by destroying his seminary and killing 150 students. The film charts the coming-of-age stories of his students, representing the hard circumstances both extremism and poverty pose for many young Pakistanis. Talha, 12, dreams of becoming a jihadi preacher. Zarina, also 12, escapes the madrassa and joins a secular school, but her poverty forces her to drop out. Click here for showtimes.

From This Day Forward (Sharon Shattuck)
When filmmaker Sharon Shattuck’s came out as transgender and changed her name to Trisha, Sharon was in the awkward throes of middle school. Her father’s transition was difficult for her straight-identified mother to accept, but they decided not to divorce. Committed to staying together as a family, they began a balancing act that would prove even more challenging than expected. As the family reunites to plan Sharon’s wedding, she asks how her parents’ love survived against all odds. Click here for showtimes.

Among The Believers, directed by Hemal Trivedi & Mohammed Ali Naqvi
Among The Believers, directed by Hemal Trivedi & Mohammed Ali Naqvi


BAMcinemaFest (Brooklyn, NY)

June 17-28, 2015

A Woman Like Me (Alex Sichel & Elizabeth Giamatti)
A Woman Like Me is a hybrid documentary that interweaves the real story of Alex Sichel, diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2011, with the fictional story of Anna Seashell (played by Lili Taylor), who manages to find the glass half-full when faced with the same diagnosis. The documentary follows Alex as she uses film to explore what is foremost on her mind while confronting a terminal disease: parenting, marriage, faith, life, and death. Click here for showtimes.

A Woman LIke Me, directed by Alex Sichel & Elizabeth Giamatti
A Woman LIke Me, directed by Alex Sichel & Elizabeth Giamatti