AFI Docs, the all-documentary film festival from American Film Institute, is just around the corner, taking place Wednesday, June 19 to Sunday, June 23 in Washington, DC and Silver Spring, Maryland.
68% of their slate of films are produced by women and almost half have a woman director or co-director. The lineup features 72 documentaries from 17 countries, including six world premieres—one of them being Nest-supported film Made In Boise.
Made In Boise, directed by Beth Aala (2018 Discretionary Grant) unveils a surprising—and booming—industry which has emerged in Boise, Idaho. In this idyllic, all-American city, nurses, nail technicians, and stay-at-home mothers are having babies for strangers—in record numbers. Boise’s own St. Luke’s Medical Center founded and runs the first and best surrogacy program of its kind, in all the US. But everything is not as it appears, surrogacy is not without its health risks, and the practice is not without its emotional complications. Character-driven and stylized in its approach, Made In Boise introduces audiences to the unique world of surrogacy in the most unexpected of places.
The film will have its world premiere with director, producer Beth Aala and producer Beth Levison in attendance, as part of the Spectrum selection of AFI Docs for “filmmakers pushing the boundaries of storytelling and exploring more unconventional subject matter.”
Three other Nest-supported films are also on the list:
American Factory, directed by Julia Reichert (2016 Chicken & Egg Award recipient) and Steve Bognar will screen as the AFI Docs Centerpiece screening, with a conversation with co-directors Steven and Julia and NBC Meet The Press’s Chuck Todd to follow.
One Child Nation (2017 (Egg)celerator Lab grantee), directed by Nanfu Wang (also a 2018 Chicken & Egg Award recipient) and Jialing Zhang will also screen as part of the Truth and Justice selection, with co-director Jialing Zhang in attendance.
And don’t miss these films by former Nest grantees: Picture Character, directed by Ian Cheney and Martha Shane (co-director of Nest-supported After Tiller) and The Great Hack, directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim (Nest-supported The Square).
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival is coming up —Thursday, April 25 to Sunday, May 5 in Toronto, CA—and with it comes some huge news pertaining to the Nest!
Not only will women will comprise 54% of directors at the Canadian festival; three Nest-supported films (Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man, The Guardian of Memory, and Buddha In Africa) will be making their world premieres; and 2016 Chicken & Egg Award recipient Julia Reichert will receive the 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award, coupled with a curated retrospective of her work throughout the festival, including new documentary American Factory.
Mr. Toilet: The World’s #2 Man, directed by Lily Zepeda (2016 Diversity Fellows Initiative [past program]) — World Premiere
To a stranger, he’s quirky, but to those who know the famed Mr. Toilet, he’s the leader of the global sanitation revolution. He grew up in the slums of Singapore with a bucket for a toilet and knows the agonies first hand of what it’s like to go through life without having a proper loo.
- Saturday, April 27 at 5:45 PM — Scotiabank Theatre 3
- Sunday, April 28 1:00 PM — Isabel Bader Theatre
- Saturday, May 4 8:30 PM — Fox Theatre
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 US. 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
- Sunday, April 28 at 8:15 PM — TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
- Tuesday, April 30 at 12:45 PM — Scotiabank Theatre 8
- Saturday, May 4 at 1:00 PM — TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
Buddha In Africa, directed by Nicole Schafer — World Premiere
In a Chinese Buddhist orphanage in Africa, the film follows Enock Alu, a Malawian boy from a rural village growing up between the contrasting worlds of his traditional African culture and the strict discipline of the Confucian, Buddhist value system of the Chinese. Once the star performer with dreams of becoming a martial arts hero like Jet Li, Enock, in his final year at school, has to make some tough decisions about his future and finds himself torn between returning to his relatives in the village or going abroad to study in China. Against the backdrop of China’s expanding global influence, the film evokes some of the tensions surrounding the growing relationship between China and Africa.
- Saturday, April 27 at 6:00 PM — TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
- Monday, April 29 at 1:00 PM — Scotiabank Theatre 8
- Sunday, May 5 at 10:15 AM — Scotiabank Theatre
How much control does a person have over their own life? In China, state control begins before a child is even born.
Always In Season (2018 (Egg)celerator Lab), directed by Jacqueline Olive
When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins while the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.
- Sunday, April 28 at 6:15 PM — Hart House Theatre
- Tuesday, April 30 at 12:45 PM — TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
- Saturday, May 4 at 6:30 PM — Hart House Theatre
American Factory, directed by Julia Reichert (2016 Chicken & Egg Award recipient) and Steve Bognar*
Dizzying, hilarious and devastating, this tale of two factories makes for a landmark story of workplace anxiety. Directors Reichert and Bognar have spent a decade documenting the plight of Ohio’s factory workers, and their dedication pays off when they are given astonishing access to Fuyao, a Chinese auto glass manufacturer, as it revives a shuttered General Motors plant in Dayton.
- Tuesday, April 30 at 6:00 PM — Isabel Bader Theatre
- Thursday, May 2 at 10:30 AM — TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
- Saturday, May 4 at 6:00 PM — Isabel Bader Theatre
- Sunday, May 5 at 4:15 PM — TIFF Bell Lightbox 1
In addition to American Factory, the Outstanding Achievement Retrospective of Julia Reichert’s work which will screen throughout the festival will include Growing Up Female, considered the first feature documentary of the modern women’s movement; Union Maids, in which women look back on the Depression-era trade unionist crusade; and A Lion in the House, the Emmy-winning film which follows five children battling cancer over the course of six years, as well as others.
The following films directed by Nest-supported filmmakers will also be featured at Hot Docs: Knock Down the House, directed by Rachel Lears (director of Nest-supported film The Hand That Feeds with Robin Blotnick) and Shooting the Mafia, directed by Kim Longinotto (director of Nest-supported film Dreamcatcher).
*Chicken & Egg Pictures did not directly support American Factory but supported director Julia Reichert during her Chicken & Egg Award year.
In addition to the Nest-supported projects and filmmakers at DOC NYC, we are egg-static to announce our Co-Founder and Senior Creative Consultant Judith Helfand’s Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, will have its world premiere at the festival.
In addition to co-founding the Nest, Judith has directed several award-winning films including the The Uprising of ’34 (co-directed with esteemed veteran George Stoney), her groundbreaking personal film A Healthy Baby Girl, its Sundance award-winning sequel Blue Vinyl, followed by Everything’s Cool (both co-directed with Daniel B. Gold). She has taught the art of documentary film at New York University, New School, and was the Filmmaker-in-Residence at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in 2007 and 2009. As much an educator and field-builder as she is a filmmaker, Judith co-founded Working Films and sits on the boards of Great Small Works and The Lower East Side Girls Club.
Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, directed by Judith A. Helfand
Sunday, November 11 at 1:30 p.m. at SVA Theater
Wednesday, November 14 at 2:45 p.m. at IFC Center
In July 1995, Chicago was hit by a record heat wave that claimed the lives of 739 residents, primarily among the elderly, African Americans and those living in poverty. Using this tragedy as a jumping-off point, but referencing other extreme weather catastrophes like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, Cooked provocatively reframes the politics of disaster to encompass extreme inequity, arguing that economically disadvantaged communities should be preventatively treated as disasters taking place in slow motion.*
* Synopsis courtesy of DOC NYC
Congratulations, Judith, and see you at DOC NYC!
Congratulations to all Nest-supported filmmakers at Sheffield Doc/Fest this year! Our programs team will be there with the 2017 Accelerator Lab cohort for first- and second-time filmmakers so if you’re around, come say hello.
Chicken & Egg Pictures-supported films and filmmakers at 2017 Sheffield:
- World Premiere: Armed With Faith, directed by Asad Faruqi and Geeta Gandbhir*
- UK Premiere: Do Donkeys Act?, directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin*
- World Premiere: Even When I Fall, directed by Kate McLarnon and Sky Neal
- World Premiere: Insha’Allah Democracy, directed by Mohammed Naqvi*
- UK Premiere: Motherland, directed by Ramona S. Diaz
- UK Premiere: Strong Island, directed by Yance Ford
- European Premiere: The Departure, directed by Lana Wilson
- UK Premiere: Unrest, directed by Jennifer Brea
- European Premiere: Whose Streets?, directed by Sabaah Folayan and co-directed by Damon Davis
*Chicken & Egg pictures did not support Armed With Faith, Do Donkeys Act?, and Insha’Allah Democracy, but did support Geeta Gandhbir for A Journey of a Thousand Miles: Peacekeepers, Love the Sinner, and A Conversation with Police on Race (NY Times Op-Doc); Ashley Sabin for Girl Model; and Mohammed Maqvi’s film Among the Believers. And, as a 2017 Breakthrough Filmmaker Award recipient, Geeta has received support from Chicken & Egg Pictures in the forms of a $50,000 unrestricted grant, individualized mentorship, and creative and professional workshops.
Go to the Sheffield Doc/Fest website for more information and the full lineup.
In New York instead? Check out Nest-supported films and filmmakers at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival (June 9-18).