Chicken & Egg Pictures is coming to the 2019 Sundance Film Festival! In addition to seeing our filmmakers soar, we are delighted that they are contributing to a festival where 40% of selected films are directed by one or more women, and 53% percent of the directors eligible for the festival’s top prize are women.
The following Nest-supported projects and filmmakers from our Accelerator Lab and Breakthrough Filmmaker Award programs, along with several directors from our AlumNest, will be celebrating their world premieres.
As the trauma of a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present, Always in Season follows relatives of the perpetrators and victims in communities across the country who are seeking justice and reconciliation in the midst of racial profiling and police shootings. In Bladenboro, NC, the film connects historic racial terrorism to racial violence today with the story of Claudia Lacy who grieves as she fights to get an FBI investigation opened into the death of her seventeen-year-old son, Lennon Lacy, found hanging from a swing set on August 29, 2014. Claudia, like many others, believes Lennon was lynched.
How much control does a person have over their own life? In China, state control begins before a child is even born.
Director Nanfu Wang is also a recipient of the 2018 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award.
American Factory*, directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert (2016 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award)
In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.**
Hail Satan*, directed by Penny Lane (2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award)
A look at the intersection of religion and activism, tracing the rise of The Satanic Temple: only six years old and already one of the most controversial religious movements in American history. The Temple is calling for a Satanic revolution to save the nation’s soul. But are they for real?**
In addition, the following films directed by Nest-supported filmmakers will be featured at the festival:
Knock Down the House, directed by Rachel Lears (director of Nest-supported film The Hand That Feeds with Robin Blotnick)
Shooting the Mafia, directed by Kim Longinotto (director of Nest-supported film Dreamcatcher)
The Great Hack, directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim (Jehane is the director of the Nest-supported film The Square)
The Sundance Film Festival will run from January 24 to February 3, 2019. Congratulations to all, and we will see you in Park City!
*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not directly support American Factory and Hail Satan but supported director Julia Reichert and director Penny Lane during their Breakthrough years.
**Synopses courtesy of Sundance Film Festival.
The Human Rights Watch Film Festival is rolling into New York City again this June, and we can’t wait to see our filmmakers in action there! Each screening is followed by a discussion.
Go to the HRW Film Festival website for more information and the full lineup:
MUHI – Generally Temporary
Directed by Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander and Tamir Elterman
For the past seven years, Muhi, a young boy from Gaza, has been trapped in an Israeli hospital. Rushed there in his infancy with a life-threatening immune disorder, he and his doting grandfather, Abu Naim, wound up caught in an immigration limbo that made it impossible for them to leave. With Muhi’s citizenship unclear, and Abu Naim denied a work permit or visa, the pair reside solely within the constraints of the hospital walls. Caught between two states in perpetual war, Muhi is being cared for by the very same people whose government forbids his family to visit, and for him or his grandfather to travel back. Made by two filmmakers from Jerusalem, this documentary lays out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in human terms, documenting the impact these paradoxical circumstances have on individual lives.
Directed by Tiffany Hsiung
Grandma Gil in South Korea, Grandma Cao in China, and Grandma Adela in the Philippines were amongst thousands of girls and young women who were sexually exploited by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II, many through kidnapping, coercion and sexual slavery. Some 70 years after their imprisonment, and after decades living in silence and shame about their past, the wounds are still fresh for these three former ‘comfort women’. Despite multiple formal apologies from the Japanese government issued since the early 1990’s, there has been little justice; the courageous resolve of these women moves them to fight and seize their last chance to share first-hand accounts of the truth with their families and the world, and to ensure that this horrific chapter of history is neither repeated nor forgotten.
June 11, 2017, 8:30 PM / Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater
Screening followed by discussion with filmmaker Tiffany Hsiung and Sarah Taylor, Advocate, Women’s Rights division, Human Rights Watch
Directed by Heather White and Lynn Zhang*
Shot below the radar, Complicit follows the journey of Chinese factory migrant worker-turned-activist Yi Yeting, who takes his fight against the global electronic industry from his hospital bed to the international stage. While battling his own work-induced leukemia, Yi Yeting teaches himself labour law in order to prepare a legal challenge against his former employers. But the struggle to defend the lives of millions of Chinese people from becoming terminally ill due to working conditions necessitates confrontation with some of the world’s largest brands including Apple and Samsung. Unfortunately, neither powerful businesses nor the government are willing to have such scandals exposed.
Check out Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films and filmmakers featured in the 2017 POV lineup:
Dalya’s Other Country
Directed by Julia Meltzer
Dalya’s Other Country tells the nuanced story of members of a family displaced by the Syrian conflict who are remaking themselves after the parents separate. Effervescent teen Dalya goes to Catholic high school and her mother, Rudayna, enrolls in college as they both walk the line between their Muslim values and the new world in which they find themselves. A co-presentation with the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM).
PBS Premiere: June 26, 2017
Directed by Ramona Diaz
Motherland is an absorbingly intimate, vérité look at the busiest maternity hospital on the planet, in one of the world’s most populous countries: the Philippines. Women share their stories with other mothers, their families, doctors and social workers. In a hospital that is literally bursting with life, we witness the miracle and wonder of the human condition. Winner, 2017 Sundance World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Commanding Vision.
PBS Premiere: October 16, 2017
Directed by Kirsten Johnson (2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient)
A boxing match in Brooklyn; life in postwar Bosnia; the daily routine of a Nigerian midwife; an intimate family moment at home: these scenes and others are woven into a tapestry of footage captured over the twenty-five-year career of cinematographer Kirsten Johnson. A work that combines documentary, autobiography, and ethical inquiry, Cameraperson is a thoughtful examination of what it means to train a camera on the world. Official Selection, 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
PBS Premiere: October 23, 2017
Check your local listings for the schedule in your time zone.
By Chelsi Bullard
Part One of a series of blog posts from Chicken & Egg Pictures’ 2017 Accelerator Lab grantees. This post is brought to us by Chelsi Bullard, director of Kids Can Spit, about New York City teens competing against one another in the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bringing Attention to Transforming, Teaching, and Learning Science). Here Chelsi interviews one of the subjects of her film right before the big competition.
Chloe, a student at Brooklyn Preparatory High School in Brooklyn, is a part of the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. program in her school. The program engages youth in science through hip hop music and culture, and builds up to a citywide competition where students across New York City’s boroughs participate in a rap battle to be crowned the ‘Science Genius.’ Science Genius aims to blur the lines of what is perceived as academic, and what is not. In this interview, Chloe talks about the rhymes she created for the competition as well as her anticipation and excitement for the big event!
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Chloe Hernandez, I’m 17 and I go to Brooklyn Prep.
What is SG [Science Genius]?
For me personally, it’s more than just an opportunity to incorporate science with rap. I can use my knowledge, it’s fun, and it appeals to people. [It’s exciting that it’s] not only for the boys but, as a young female, I could do something like this.
Tell me about the competition.
You get together with a group and you put together what you know and the message you want to send, which has to do with real life, not just scientific concepts. Then, you have a school battle against your peers in school who have their own science raps. If you go on to the final battle, you present your raps against students from all over the place. It’s really how can you connect science to something you’re really passionate about.
I’m rather scared because last year’s winner is from my school, and I’m proud of them and want to be proud of myself too.
What’s your group’s piece about?
It started with another girl [on my group], Kiersten, and inspired by the concept that there is no such thing as darkness, just an absence of light. The piece talks about the African American community and how teens have something to say about all of our problems. Adults don’t listen [so] we use sound waves to talk about our everyday lives that adults don’t see.
What’s your relationship to science like?
At first I was afraid of getting into science. [My teammate] Ivy and I both thought “How are we going to incorporate science?” But it’s not like it’s something I didn’t want to learn. Now, physics is probably the most amazing subject I’ve ever had. Like light waves—a lot of things when I see it, it’s not what I see. Our eyes create these colors. This is really cool.
What are the top three things you try to remember to relax and do your best before a performance?
- Calm down, it’s not the end of the world!
- There are no losers because everyone has the same nerves as me.
- Be proud of myself. If I get to the school-wide battle, then I am worthy of my spot, even if it’s not #1.
Come cheer Chloe and the other competitors on at the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. Finals on Friday, May 26! You can register here. And come back every month to see more from our Accelerator Lab grantees!
Chelsi Bullard is an independent video editor turned director based in Harlem. She likes to attach herself to stories that take the viewer to little known worlds and introduce them to courageous and outspoken characters. Most recently, she edited the short I Was Here First (2015) that premiered at DOC NYC and was produced as a part of the UnionDocs Collaborative Studio in Brooklyn, NY where Chelsi was a media arts fellow. Visit her website: http://www.chelsibullard.com/.
Chelsi is a grantee of our 2017 Accelerator Lab for first- and second-time filmmakers. Kids Can Spit is her feature directorial debut.
Congrats to our newest group of filmmakers coming into the Nest!
Co-directed by Christina D. King & Elizabeth Castle (US)
The women of the American Indian Movement fight from a vulnerable place only matriarchs can understand—it is a battle for their children and the culture they hope to preserve for them. Warrior Women chronicles the struggle of Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcy Gilbert, a Lakota mother and daughter whose fight for indigenous rights started in the 1970s and continues today at Standing Rock.
Through archival footage, verité, and video art, we experience Thunder Hawk’s dedication to Red Power and come to understand that activism is necessary for the very survival and success of Native culture and values for the next generation.
How to Have an American Baby
Directed by Leslie Tai (US)
How to Have an American Baby is a kaleidoscopic voyage that travels behind closed doors into the booming shadow economy that caters to affluent Chinese tourists who travel to the US on birthing vacations—in order to give birth and obtain US citizenship for their babies. Tracing the underground supply chain from Beijing and Shanghai to Los Angeles, the film weaves together vignettes and deeply private moments. In bedrooms, delivery rooms, and family meetings, the story of a hidden global economy emerges—depicting the fortunes and tragedies that befall the ordinary people caught in the web of its influence.
Untitled Race & Criminal Justice Project
Directed by Ursula Liang (US)
A nuanced look at how two communities of color navigate an uneven criminal justice system, anchored by one polarizing New York City case.
Directed by Carolina Corral (MEXICO)
Since Oliver was killed, he communicates with his mother María through the rain. He let her know the attorney’s office buried him, along with 117 other corpses, in a hidden mass grave. This sparks a new life mission for María: to hold the government accountable for exhuming them all and returning the bodies back to the families who have been looking for them for years.
The Other Half of the African Sky
Directed by Tapiwa Chipfupa (ZIMBABWE)
The Other Half Of The African Sky follows filmmaker Tapiwa Chipfupa’s attempts to reconcile her estrangement from her family, triggered by a disagreement over her marriage. Through encounters with other women from all walks of life facing their own predicaments, Tapiwa explores how women hold up their half of the sky under a very constrictive and constantly contradictory environment in this very personal, brutally honest, and intriguing document of the disparities and the vast contradictions that women face in contemporary Zimbabwe. The film gives voice to the hopes, fears, and dreams of Zimbabwe’s women while simultaneously revealing a country in flux.
For more information, visit the Diversity Fellows Initiative webpage.
New approaches to storytelling continue to expand as new technology emerges and accessibility to platforms improves. While the basic act of crafting compelling stories remains unchanged, transmedia and emerging storytelling platform challenge the ways storytellers produce these stories and change the ways audiences can experience them.
Chicken & Egg Pictures partnered with Magnet Media to co-host the “VIP Roundtable: Social Video, Interactive Video & Emerging Platforms” event in order to achieve greater understanding of the influence the audience has on the storyteller in this digital era. On a Thursday night on April 13th, media makers and shakers, marketers, and filmmakers convened for an evening of dialogue, engagement, and reflection about what the future of storytelling holds for content creators and distributors. Panelists included experts from Twitch, Cheddar, Refinery29, Google Fiber, and RAPT Media, and provided insights and steered conversations on innovative storytelling: from the growth of live streaming and its impact on how we consume daily news, to leveraging the power of interactive video in the business sector to strengthen brand engagement with consumers.
As part of our Alumni Resource and Support Network, Chicken & Egg Pictures partnered with Magnet Media to provide our filmmakers with the opportunity to connect with other creatives and media professionals, learn new forms of storytelling, and discover potential opportunities as storytellers in the field. “The event demonstrated Magnet Media and Megan Cunningham’s commitment to creating a more inclusive industry through networking, tailored education, and unique access,” said Yvonne Welbon, Chicken & Egg Pictures Senior Creative Consultant.
We may not know what new emerging platforms will take form in the coming months or years (technology is rapidly evolving!), but we know one thing is for certain: the future of storytelling is immersive.
Post by Netsanet Negussie, Spring 2017 Chicken & Egg Pictures Program Intern
Three Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported filmmakers accepted Peabody Awards this year. A big congratulations to:
Deborah S. Esquenazi for Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
Nanfu Wang (2017 Accelerator Lab grantee) for Hooligan Sparrow*
Read more about these films and the other recipients in their company on the Peabody website.
*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not fund the film Hooligan Sparrow, but supports director Nanfu Wang as a 2017 Accelerator Lab grantee. Nanfu has also received the LUNA Chicken & Egg Pictures Award at 2017 SXSW Film Festival (read more here).
Chicken & Egg Pictures is proud to support three films being featured at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival: MUHI – Generally Temporary, directed by Rina Castelnuvo-Hillerma and Tamir Elterman (in competition for the Golden Gate Award for Documentary Feature); Motherland, directed by Ramona Diaz; and Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Folyan and co-directed by Damon Davis. Congratulations Rina, Tamir, Ramona, Sabaah, and Damon and good luck to MUHI – Generally Temporary!
For more information about the SF International Film Festival, or the full festival lineup, visit the SFFS website.
MUHI – Generally Temporary
Directed by Rina Castelnuovo-Hollander
and Tamir Elterman
MUHI – Generally Temporary tells the story of Muhammad (Muhi), a Palestinian child from Gaza and the son of a Hamas activist wanted by Israel. As a newborn, Muhi is transferred to Israel for treatment of a life-threatening condition. Months turn into years and Muhi, now six, has lived his whole life in the Israeli hospital, confined for security reasons to its premises with his grandfather. The film explores Muhi’s contradictory world in which he is treated, raised, and saved by his people’s enemy, while his parents remain in Gaza.
April 9, 12:30 p.m. (SFMOMA) / April 12, 6:30 p.m. (BAMPFA) / April 13, 1:00 p.m. (YBCA Screening Room)
To buy tickets, visit the SFFS MUHI – Generally Temporary webpage.
Directed by Ramona Diaz
One of the world’s poorest and most populous countries, the Philippines, struggles with reproductive health policy—both in the legislature where laws are in debate, and in a hospital with the busiest maternity ward on the planet.
April 6, 6:00 p.m. (YBCA Screening Room) / April 8, 7:30 p.m. (Roxie Theater)
To buy tickets, visit the SFFS Motherland webpage.
Directed by Sabaah Folayan
and co-directed by Damon Davis
A firsthand look at how the murder of one teenage boy became the last straw for a community under siege, Whose Streets? is a story of love, loss, conflict, and ambition. Set in Ferguson, MO, the film follows the journey of everyday people whose lives are intertwined with a burgeoning national movement for black liberation.
April 14, 8:00 p.m. (PROXY)
To register for the free screening, visit the SFFS Whose Streets? webpage.
We’re so proud of our Accelerator Lab grantee Nanfu Wang and her film, I Am Another You, for winning the LUNA Chicken & Egg Pictures Award at SXSW Film Festival this year!
For more information about the film, and the award, check out some of these articles:
“Show Her The Money: Why Financing Really Matters for Women Directors” by Ally Fleming, SXSW blog
“‘I Am Another You’ Uncovers an American Dreamer From the Inside Out” by Eric Kohn, Indiewire
“SXSW Film Review: ‘I Am Another You’” by Owen Gleiberman, Variety
We’re proud to announce our newest cohort of Accelerator Lab participants. Congratulations to all!
The Surrender of Waymond Hall
Directed by Jane Greenberg, US
The Surrender of Waymond Hall tells the redemption story of a young black fugitive on the run for the violent crime he committed a decade ago. With extraordinary access, the film follows Way as he wrestles with the excruciating decision to turn himself in, faces the watershed moment of surrender, and navigates a criminal justice system accused of discriminating against people just like him. His story exposes flaws in our societal institutions and in human nature, unfolding against a backdrop of national debates over the divisive racial impact of our criminal justice policies and the remarkable push to reform them.
The Guardian of Memory
Directed by Marcela Arteaga, MEXICO
The Juarez Valley, a region once known for cotton production, is now nothing more than burned down houses, empty towns, and memories. Carlos Spector, an immigration lawyer born in El Paso, TX, fights to obtain political asylum for Mexicans fleeing from violence. This is the story of Mexican men, women, and children seeking a respite from their tragedies by heading to their neighboring country, the U.S. It is also a story about the kindness and hope that still exists in people who have gone through hell, and about Carlos Spector’s tireless efforts to keep memory alive.
Kids Can Spit
Directed by Chelsi Bullard, US
The feature documentary Kids Can Spit follows three New York City teenagers over the school year as they gear up to compete against one another at the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bringing Attention to Transforming, Teaching, and Learning Science), a science-themed rap competition. The competition’s creator, Professor Chris Emdin, believes hip-hop is uniquely suited to teach science. For students Mannix, Genesis, and Jason, this battle is a way to beat society’s odds while carving their identities and finding their voices. Pressure mounts on Chris to prove his innovative curriculum does what traditional science classes have failed to do: engage disenfranchised Black and Latinx youth to become proficient in science through rap.
The Surf Girls of Cox’s Bazar
Directed by Elizabeth D. Costa, BANGLADESH
Jahanara, Rifa, and Ayesha live in one of the poorest slums near the beaches of Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. From a young age, the girls are sent to work in order to supplement the family income, and social norms dictate that they will be married when they turn 14 or 15 years old. The girls discover a newfound freedom in a surf club and find out they have the skills and talent to win competitions. This spurs their ambitions and they dream of becoming the first international female surfers of Bangladesh.
The Rashomon Effect
Directed by Lyric R. Cabral, US
What happened when unarmed Black teen Michael Brown was fatally shot by White police officer Darren Wilson?
Born in China
Directed by Nanfu Wang and Lynn Zhang, CHINA
How much control does a person have over their own life? In China, state control begins before a child is even born.
Directed by Alexandra Codina, US
Unaccompanied Children reveals America’s invisible refugee crisis through the eyes of one family that defies a broken system with their unwavering resilience. Deep in the everyday life of the loving and optimistic Gonzalez family, the horrific violence of gang-ridden Honduras and the encroaching threat of draconian US enforcement are almost forgotten. The film goes beyond the traditional immigration narrative to a nuanced, intimate story which implicates us all in how we care for the most vulnerable.
Lights Camera Uganda [working title]
Directed by Cathryne Czubek and Hugo Perez, US
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.
Rajada Dalka/Nation’s Hope
Directed by Hana Mire, SOMALIA
Somalia’s newly revived Women’s Basketball team seeks to inspire their nation as they overcome immense challenges in their first season since the outbreak of war in 1991. To continue to play the game they love, the team must defy both religious leaders and violent militant groups that believe that their sporting ambitions are un-Islamic. They must also battle against the sexism faced by women in sports across the world.
People I Know
Directed by Zofia Pregowska, POLAND
People I Know is a tragicomedy vérité about a young married couple living in an old trailer. Prone to nervous breakdowns, Michael is unable to stand consumer society and becomes a street musician. His wife Nathalie is an oncology nurse. One day, Nathalie discovers that she wants to own a house so much that she’s ready to take on a lifelong loan.
Note: Since the time of the original publication of this post, some film descriptions have been edited upon filmmakers’ requests.