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 were thrilled to see that three Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees have been recognized with News & Documentary Emmy nominations:
Born to Fly
Directed by Catherine Gund
Nominated for Outstanding Arts & Culture Programming
Elizabeth Streb and the STREB Extreme Action Company form a motley troupe of flyers and crashers. Propelled by Streb’s edict that “anything too safe is not action,” these daredevils challenge the assumptions of art, aging, injury, gender, and human possibility. Revealing the passions behindthe dancers’ bruises and broken noses, Born to Fly offers a breathtaking tale about the necessity of art, inspiring audiences hungry for a more tactile and fierce existence.
Directed by Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly
A courageous young woman, Marianna, takes the boldest step imaginable to confront her risk of having inherited the fatal, incurable Huntington’s Disease.
The Nest takes off at Human Rights Watch!
This year, four Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported projects will be screened at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, including the first-ever virtual reality project we have supported.
The festival will be held in New York from June 10 – June 19, 2016. HRW Film Festival screens more than 500 films each year, spreading stories of suffering individuals through the medium of film in an effort to promote knowledge and awareness of the breaches of human rights in today’s world.
Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami
Sonita is the story of an 18-year-old Afghan woman following her dream to be a rapper while society surrounding her tries to silence her. She stands up against forced marriages, including her own, in which she was to be sold off for $9,000 in order to allow her family to purchase a wife for their son. This film’s personal nature imbues it with universal meaning.
Directed by Kristi Jacobson (2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient)
Solitary provides a gripping look into life in prison, for both inmates and officers. It is a film about entrapment with the self, an effort to inform society of life in loneliness. Solitary provides a voice for the 80,000 people currently in solitary confinement in the US while letting them know they are not alone.
When Two Worlds Collide
Heidi Brandenburg & Mathew Orzel
The struggle of indigenous people to maintain their surrounding land when in conflict with the interests of the big companies reminds us that our battle to preserve our environment rather than establishing locations for the production of monetary gains is ever present. When Two Worlds Collide captivatingly reminds us of the state of the one world we are slowly losing.
6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement
Francesca Panetta and Lindsay Poulton
We are incredibly excited about 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement, the first VR project Chicken & Egg Pictures has supported. While traditional methods of viewing films can take you on a journey one, cannot help but notice that that journey is confined. The limits of the screen are sharp contrasts, ever-present boundaries between two worlds. Our field of vision reminds us of our surroundings and modern comforts, and by doing so, rips us away from the experiences unfolding on the screen. 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement places us in a new reality, a reality where the outside world is no longer visible and no matter where we look, our surrounding world is the world of the inmate. Their lives become ours in ways that previously weren’t possible. 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement brings new perspective to a life in solitude.
A panel, comprised of four members, including Francesca Panetta, will also be held on June 15, 2016. The panel will focus on the use of VR, its power to promote social change, as well as what boundaries we should place upon it. Virtual reality has the potential to allow a more complete understanding of suffering due to human rights violations, but like any new medium, its utility in promoting tangible change remains under debate.
We are pleased and proud to announce the five recipients of our inaugural Breakthrough Filmmaker Award. The five chosen filmmakers are Kristi Jacobson (A Place at the Table) Julia Reichert (The Last Truck), Yoruba Richen (The New Black), Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Hollow), and Michèle Stephenson (American Promise). This award consists of a $50,000 unrestricted grant and a year-long mentorship program tailored to each filmmaker’s individual goals.
The Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award responds to the reality that only a few women nonfiction directors in the U.S. are able to work full-time as independent storytellers. The program recognizes and elevates five mid-career women directors with unique voices who are poised to reach new heights and to continue to be strong filmmaker-advocates for urgent issues.
“Chicken & Egg Pictures continues to make bold investments in both women artists and gender equality to ensure that a greater diversity of voices are acknowledged for their participation in the storytelling that drives change,” said Jenni Wolfson, Executive Director of Chicken & Egg Pictures. “Our hope with this new award is to provide support and a platform for these artists to continue showcasing and elevating critical social justice, environmental, and human rights issues and stories while working to increase their visibility and ensure they receive the recognition they deserve.”
Recipients of the Chicken & Egg Pictures Breakthrough Filmmaker Award were chosen through a nation-wide confidential nomination process.
2016 BREAKTHROUGH FILMMAKER AWARD RECIPIENTS
Kristi Jacobson is a New York-based filmmaker whose films capture nuanced, intimate, and provocative portrayals of individuals and communities. Her most recent film, A Place at the Table (Participant Media/Magnolia Pictures), called “one of the most important…and gripping non-fiction films to debut in some time” by Indiewire, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival before its theatrical release in over 35 U.S. cities. Previous films include the critically acclaimed Toots, winner of the National Board of Review’s 2007 Top Documentary Award, and American Standoff (HBO), produced by two-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple. Jacobson is a member of the Director’s Guild of America, NYWIFT, and a two-time Sundance Creative Producing Fellow. She is a recipient of grants from Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Institute DFP, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and many others. She is currently working on an upcoming HBO documentary that provides an immersive and unprecedented look inside the world of solitary confinement in the U.S.
Julia Reichert is a three-time Academy Award® nominee for her documentary work. She lives in Ohio, and has chosen to focus on class, gender, and race in the lives of Americans. Julia’s first film, Growing Up Female, was the first feature documentary of the modern Women’s Movement. It was recently selected for the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Her films Union Maids and Seeing Red were nominated for Academy Awards® for Best Feature Documentary, as was The Last Truck, a short (co-directed with Steven Bognar) which premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and on HBO. Her film A Lion in the House (an ITVS co-production, made with Bognar) premiered at Sundance, screened nationally on PBS, and won the Primetime Emmy® for Exceptional Merit in Nonfiction Filmmaking. She co-wrote and directed the feature film Emma and Elvis. Julia is co-founder of New Day Films, the independent film distribution co-op. She is author of “Doing It Yourself,” the first book on self-distribution in independent film, and was an Advisory Board member of IFP. Reichert is currently directing a film about the 9 to 5 movement, telling the stories of the millions of low wage, invisible women who populated the clerical pool, served coffee, and suffered sexual harassment before it was named. In the 1970’s they gathered their courage and rose up against their bosses, large corporations, and institutions. She’s also begun filming a verite follow-up to The Last Truck, chronicling the arrival of a new plant in her economically devastated Midwestern city.
Yoruba Richen is a documentary filmmaker whose work explores issues of race, space, and power. She has directed films in the U.S. and abroad, including The New Black and Promised Land. The New Black won Audience Awards at AFI Docs, Philly Q Fest, and Frameline LGBT Film Festival. The film also won best documentary at the Urbanworld Film Festival and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a GLAAD Media Award. The New Black opened theatrically at New York’s Film Forum and aired on PBS’s Independent Lens. Yoruba has received numerous grants including from Sundance Documentary Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and the Ford Foundation. She won the Creative Promise Award at Tribeca All Access and was also a Sundance Producers Fellow. Yoruba is a featured TED Speaker and a Guggenheim Fellow. She is director of the documentary program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Yoruba is currently working on How It Feels To Be Free, a two-part documentary chronicling how black entertainers like Lena Horne and Cicely Tyson navigated the industry and took control of their own images, all while fighting for civil rights through their art and actions.
Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Elaine McMillion Sheldon is a documentary filmmaker and media artist who explores themes of identity, roots, and change. She’s the director of Hollow, the Emmy®-nominated and Peabody-winning interactive documentary that explores life in the Appalachian coalfields. She’s also the co-producer of The Lower 9, a feature-length documentary about The Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Sheldon’s film and interactive work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, from the New York Film Festival to IDFA. Sheldon was a 2013 Future of Storytelling Fellow, and named one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” in 2013 by Filmmaker Magazine and one of “50 People Changing The South” in 2015 by Southern Living Magazine. She works across platforms and mediums—film, photo, audio, interactive media—to create storytelling experiences. Sheldon is currently working on several projects that employ the storytelling skills she has developed for multiple mediums, including short and feature filmmaking, longform and interactive journalism, participatory media, virtual reality, and audio storytelling. Two of the film-based projects include a feature-length documentary about home, identity, and roots of Latino families living in Appalachia, and a short-film collaboration with the New York Times Op-Docs centered on the election year in rural America.
Michèle Stephenson pulls from her Caribbean roots and international experience as a human rights attorney to tell compelling personal stories that resonate beyond the margins. Her work has appeared on a variety of broadcast and web platforms, including PBS, Showtime, and MTV. Her most recent film, American Promise, was nominated for three Emmys® including Best Documentary. The film won the Jury Prize at Sundance and was selected for the New York Film Festival’s Main Slate. Stephenson’s community engagement work has won numerous awards including the BRITDOC Puma Impact Award and a Revere Award nomination from the American Publishers Association. Other films directed by Stephenson include Slaying Goliath and Faces of Change. Her recent book, “Promises Kept,” written with co-authors Joe Brewster and Hilary Beard, won an NAACP Image Award. Stephenson is currently working on Hispaniola, a documentary chronicling the lives of families affected by the TC-186 Dominican Republic Supreme Court ruling that strips citizenship from individuals of Haitian descent who were born in the country. She’s also part of the filmmaking team behind Conversations On Race, a New York Times Op-Docs series of short films that uses powerful personal narratives to elevate shared experiences of race and equality.
Two projects have been awarded Chicken & Egg Pictures production grants: Last Call, directed by Lana Wilson, and Survivors, directed by Anna Fitch, Arthur Pratt, and Banker White.
Lana Wilson’s last film, After Tiller, was also supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures and was part of our Reel Reproductive Justice cohort, a group of films exploring reproductive justice from various angles.
Director: Lana Wilson
A remarkable Japanese Buddhist priest uses a range of unorthodox methods to help desperate men and women re-discover the will to live. But when a health crisis puts him at serious risk, can he live by the same advice he gives out?
Directors: Anna Fitch, Arthur Pratt, and Banker White
Through the eyes of Sierra Leonean filmmakers, Survivors presents a portrait of their country during the Ebola outbreak, exposing the complexity of the epidemic and the socio-political turmoil that lies in its wake. The film chronicles the remarkable stories of Sierra Leonean heroes during what is now widely regarded as the most acute public health crisis of the modern era.
Chicken & Egg Pictures was pleased to announce today our support of two additional projects focusing on criminal justice in the United States, joining a cohort of films currently supported by the organization that address the issue. 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement and College Behind Bars will both receive grants from the organization.
The Guardian’s 6X9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement (Francesca Panetta and Lindsay Poulton) is the first virtual reality project supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures. It is being funded through the organization’s new Impact & Innovation Initiative, which empowers women filmmakers to explore the new world of immersive and digital storytelling through online and interactive shorts, web series, and other cross-platform projects aimed at creating social impact.
College Behind Bars, directed by Lynn Novick, looks at a group of incarcerated men and women who are taking advantage of the Bard Prison Initiative to pursue a college degree while serving their sentences.
Chicken & Egg Pictures recognizes the magnitude of the criminal justice and mass incarceration crisis in the United States, and over its ten years has supported numerous films that address the issue from multiple perspectives.
6X9 and College Behind Bars join five current projects supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures that focus on various aspects of criminal justice, both in the United States and around the world. These projects include Cocaine Prison (Violeta Ayala), The Return (Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway), Out of Mind (Kristi Jacobson), Sons And Daughters Of The Incarcerated (Denali Tiller), and Southwest Of Salem (Deborah S. Esquenazi).
“We’re very proud to be putting our support behind these projects that tackle one of the most pressing issues in the United States today,” said Chicken & Egg Pictures Executive Director Jenni Wolfson. “Even though the U.S. represents just 5% of the world’s population, we are responsible for 25% of inmates around the globe. Chicken & Egg Pictures believes firmly in the power of film to expose the systematic injustices surrounding mass incarceration, inhumane conditions, and miscarriages of justice. These storytellers address this matter with humanity, innovation, and purpose, ensuring that it stays at the top of our national conscience and contributes towards lasting change.”
Congratulations to the five Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees whose projects will screen at the upcoming 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
6×9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement is the first virtual reality project supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures and will premiere as part of the New Frontiers program.
We look forward to seeing these films launch in Park City and begin their journey to reach audiences across the world.
The full program and schedule for this year’s Sundance Film Festival is available here.
6×9: An Immersive Experience of Solitary Confinement (The Guardian- Francesca Panetta & Lindsay Poulton)
Right now, more than 80,000 people are locked in a 6′ by 9′ concrete box where they have no human contact and every element of their environment is controlled. The sensory deprivation causes severe psychological damage. It changes them; they become invisible.
Cameraperson (Kirsten Johnson)
Drawing on footage she’s shot over the course of 25 years, cinematographer Kirsten Johnson searches to reconcile her part in the thorny questions of permission, power, creative ambition, and human obligation that come with filming the lives of others.
Sonita (Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami)
18-year-old Sonita is an undocumented Afghan immigrant living in the suburbs of Tehran. In spite of all the obstacles she confronts in Iran and from her conservative family, she fights to live the way she wants: as a rapper. In harsh contrast to her goal is the plan of her family to make her a bride and sell her to a new family for the price of $9,000.
Trapped (Dawn Porter)
At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by the age of 45. Four in 10 unwanted pregnancies are terminated by abortion. What would happen if access to care for these cases completely disappeared? Following the progress of two southern reproductive health clinics, Trapped captures their struggle as they continue to provide care in the face of an increasingly hostile legal and political climate.
When Two Worlds Collide (Heidi Brandenburg & Mathew Orzel)
An indigenous leader is forced into exile and faces 20 years in prison for resisting the environmental ruin of Amazonian lands by big business. Refusing to surrender, he continues his quest, shedding light on conflicting visions shaping the fate of the Amazon and the climate future of our world.
Chicken & Egg Pictures announces new Diversity Fellows Initiative, sponsored by The Harnisch Foundation
Chicken & Egg Pictures announced today the launch of the Diversity Fellows Initiative, a new program that supports seven non-fiction projects helmed by first or second-time women filmmakers. The Diversity Fellows Initiative is supported by The Harnisch Foundation, and will bring together participants for six months of tailored mentorship, workshops, and programming with Chicken & Egg Pictures staff.
This inaugural year of the Diversity Fellows Initiative features a partnership with DOC NYC, the largest documentary film festival in the United States, which includes an educational conference for filmmakers called DOC NYC PRO.
With Creative Partner Chicken & Egg Pictures, DOC NYC has created “Breaking In: New Roadmaps,” an entire day dedicated to diversity at the festival, which is co-presented with The City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, and will take place on Thursday, November 19. The day features a full lineup of panels dedicated to exploring where diverse voices and emerging talent can get access to funding and mentorship, as well as develop their careers and artistic voice.
“Chicken & Egg Pictures is committed to discovering and elevating underrepresented voices in documentary filmmaking,” said Executive Director Jenni Wolfson. “We are thrilled to be able to support these nine exceptional filmmakers through our Diversity Fellows Initiative, sponsored by The Harnisch Foundation. We’re equally thrilled that The City of New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment will be joining us as a co-presenter of “Breaking In: New Roadmaps” at DOC NYC, which will share important best practices and resources for emerging artists of diverse backgrounds.”
“The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is committed to supporting opportunities for New Yorkers of all backgrounds to build meaningful careers in the media and entertainment industry,” said MOME Acting Commissioner Luis Castro. “New York is home to a talented and diverse community of artists. We are proud to partner with Chicken & Egg Pictures and DOC NYC to present “Breaking In: New Roadmaps.” This day long series will provide invaluable insights to help up-and-coming storytellers forge and grow their careers as well as foster opportunities for diverse artists to create and share their stories.”
Acting Commissioner Castro will help kick off the day with a panel about breaking into filmmaking. The panel includes veteran filmmakers Farihah Zaman (Remote Area Medical), Hao Wu (The Road to Fame) Yoruba Richen (The New Black) and Taj Paxton (Logo/Viacom), sharing lessons learned and advice on how to sustain their creative careers. Additional “Breaking In” panels will be featured throughout Thursday.
Fellows were chosen from over 400 applications to the Accelerator Lab for first and second-time women filmmakers, and received travel grants and stipends, which enabled them to come to New York and participate in Chicken & Egg Pictures’ signature story workshop, led by Creative Director Judith Helfand and Interim Creative Director Yvonne Welbon. As part of this workshop, they will receive personalized follow-up over the next six months to mark progress and receive feedback.
In addition to travel grants and stipends, fellows received an Industry Pass to DOC NYC, moving the filmmakers forward in their careers, enabling them a greater chance of finishing better films, and putting them in a stronger position when they apply for funding from other organizations. Participants also benefit from meeting and making connections with key industry professionals at DOC NYC.
THE CHICKEN & EGG PICTURES DIVERSITY FELLOWS: 2015-2016
BOUGHT, SOLD & RETURNED Director: Christina Birkhead – New York
Bought, Sold & Returned is a revealing look into the human trafficking epidemic in Vietnam. The film follows multiple Vietnamese girls who bravely faced impossible odds to make it home after being sold, as they emotionally heal and attempt to regain honorable futures. This delicate film confronts the root causes of human trafficking in Vietnam and highlights shelter and reintegration services enabling many young women to regain their lives after escape.
Director: Lily Zepeda – Los Angeles
Flush Revolution follows Jack Sim, AKA “Mr. Toilet,” a Singaporean entrepreneur turned social activist who faces impossible odds doing work that others won’t: re-imagining and rebuilding the toilet. Although he has gained global recognition for his work with the UN and the World Toilet Organization, he must make endless sacrifices with no paycheck and a staff of nine to get 2.4 billion people access to safe sanitation. As Mr. Toilet partners with an army of celebrities and world leaders, time will tell if his passion and innovation are a match for India’s largest sanitation assignment in history.
Directors: Siyan Liu & Danni Wang – New York
The bustling southern city of Dongguan is both the manufacturing hub and the sex capital of China. Most of the sex workers were once factory girls. Lady Town explores these two worlds through the lives of two struggling young women. This film follows two young Chinese women with high hopes. Yun, a young mother, wants to escape the crushing drudgery of factory work by starting her own business; while Jolin dreams of becoming an actress, instead of working in the sex industry.
OBSTINATE TO LIVE
Director: Sahra Mosawi – Afghanistan
In Afghanistan where systematic abuses of girls rarely come to light, and seeking justice can be deadly, one young woman says “Enough.” Her name is Khatera and this is her incredible story of love, hope, bravery, forgiveness and truth. It is also one of horrific abuse. Khatera was brutally raped by her father since the age of nine. Today she is twenty-three and raising two precious and precocious children—a daughter and a son—whom he sired.
RAJADA DALKA (NATION’S HOPE)
Director: Hana Mire — Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Rajada Dalka is a feature documentary that incarnates the strong will and devotion of the Somali Women National Basketball Team amid an ongoing conflict.
SWIMMING ON DRY LAND
Director: Michelle Sérieux – Kingston, Jamaica
Swimming on Dry Land examines the lives of young gay Jamaicans, at a time when the island is debating homosexuality publicly in politics, the press and in churches. The film’s title makes reference to the concept of “fish,” a term used in Jamaica to refer to homosexuals, but also references their marginalization, coupled with an equally strong determination by some of the characters to live and love in Jamaica, despite the odds.
Directors: Dyana Winkler & Tina Brown- New York
United Skates follows an underground subculture growing inside our country’s last standing roller rinks. Fusing hip-hop with the speed of old school quad roller skates, this film shines a fresh light on the recurring pattern of racial struggle faced by African American artists, as it follows the next artistic movement still undiscovered by the American mainstream.
Unbeknownst even to the police, there are numerous public spaces across America that have been declared “neutral territory” by rivaling gangs. In the heart of South Central LA, Bloods and Crips put down their weapons each evening and peacefully coexist. These safe havens are found inside the faded walls of our country’s last remaining roller rinks where an underground social and artistic movement is growing under the radar. It took nearly thirty years for mainstream America to discover the brilliance of jazz. Similarly, the blues, R&B, and hip-hop were met with prejudice before being artistically recognized. United Skates will use the talent and fresh style of this world to shine a very different light on racial stereotyping through the eyes of an ex-Crip wife turned community activist, and a skater so determined to save what he loves, that he is about to lose his wife and children in the process.
Eight Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films will be screening at this year’s edition of DOC NYC, of which Chicken & Egg Pictures is a proud supporter. The festival will run November 12-19 in New York City; a full festival lineup and schedule is available here.
Insiders Conference: Show Me the Money: Executive Director Jenni Wolfson moderates a panel on the Anatomy of Funding, joined by producer Patricia Benabe (The Hand That Feeds) and filmmakers Dawn Porter (Gideon’s Army), and Jen Brea (Canary In A Coal Mine). Monday, November 16 at 10:30am at Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea. Full schedule here.
The Babushkas of Chernobyl (Anne Bogart & Holly Morris)
Wednesday, 11/18 at 9:15PM (IFC Center)
Thursday, 11/19 at 3:15PM (IFC Center)
Dreamcatcher (Kim Longinotto)
Friday, 11/13 at 7PM (IFC Center)
Thursday, 11/19 at 5PM (Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea)
From This Day Forward (Sharon Shattuck)
Saturday, 11/14 at 9PM (Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea)
Gayby Baby (Maya Newell)
Wednesday, 11/18 at 7:15PM (IFC Center)
A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers (Geeta Gandbhir & Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy)
Saturday, 11/14 at 4:30PM (Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea)
Monday, 11/16 at 5:15PM (Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea)
No Más Bebés (Renee Tajima-Peña)
Saturday, 11/14 at 4:30PM (IFC Center)
Speed Sisters (Amber Fares)
Saturday, 11/14 at 2PM (SVA Theatre)
Tocando la Luz (Jennifer Redfearn)
Sunday, 11/15 at 4:45PM (Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea)
Wednesday, 11/18 at 10:15AM (IFC Center)