Announces Open Call for Films Focused on Women & Girls On Screen, In Honor of the Organization’s Forthcoming 10th Anniversary

NEW YORK (Tuesday, June 24) – Chicken & Egg Pictures today announced 23 feature-length documentary films that will receive follow-up grants, providing critical support at key stages.

These films, from the United States and across the globe, are directed by both emerging and veteran filmmakers. Many will premiere at film festivals in the coming year. To date, the organization has awarded over $3.3 million in grants to over 160 film projects and has provided over 5,000 hours of mentorship directly to filmmakers.

The films include The Return, from Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway, the documentary about a historic shift in criminal sentencing and mass incarceration that was featured at Good Pitch in New York last week. Two film grantees in this round, Dawn Porter’s Trapped and Ramona Diaz’s The Bill are among the organization’s award-winning series of films focused on reproductive health and justice, which has been heralded by Mother Jones magazine. Prior grantees Alessandra Zeka and Holen Sabrina Kahn recently celebrated the world premiere of another film in the cohort, A Quiet Inquisition, at the Human Rights Watch Film Festival in New York, one of seven Chicken & Egg Pictures grantees at the acclaimed festival.

Chicken & Egg Pictures is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to supporting women nonfiction filmmakers whose diverse voices and dynamic storytelling have the power to catalyze change, at home and around the globe. Founded in 2005 by award-winning filmmakers and producers Julie Parker Benello, Wendy Ettinger, and Judith Helfand, Chicken & Egg Pictures matches strategically timed grants with creative mentorship to help filmmakers at critical phases -- from development and production through distribution and engagement. The organization has offices in Brooklyn and San Francisco.

As the only nonprofit film fund devoted solely to supporting women documentary directors, Chicken & Egg Pictures strives to transform the landscape of nonfiction filmmaking and the world at large by putting funds directly into the hands of women filmmakers, matching money with strategic mentorship and concurrently funding festivals and field-building organizations such as AFI Docs, DOC NYC, Good Pitch, New Orleans International Film Festival, SXSW, True/False, and Working Films.

In addition to these follow-up grants announced today, the organization has announced its 2014 Open Call for grants for new projects. The deadline for 2014 grant applications is July 1.

“In anticipation of Chicken & Egg Pictures' upcoming 10th anniversary, we are prioritizing projects that feature women and girls on screen as prominent characters and storytellers,” said Executive Director Jenni Wolfson. “We look forward to discovering new voices that continue to address the global justice, human rights, and environmental issues of our time — with women and girls at the center.”


Among the Believers (Hemal Trivedi and Mohammed Naqvi)

Since Pakistan’s founding, secular and fundamentalist forces have been at war in the country. A watershed moment takes place when Maulana Aziz, cleric of Pakistan’s most radical Islamic seminary, the Red Mosque, declares war on the government. The government retaliates by destroying his seminary. The film follows the fearsome yet very human Aziz on a quest to create an Islamic utopia in the country, fueling a split between secular and Islamist camps. The film also charts the coming-of-age stories of two of his students in the madrassa. Talha, 12, detaches himself from his moderate Muslim family to train as a jihadi preacher. Zarina, also 12, escapes the madrassa and joins a secular school, hoping to become a doctor. But her poverty forces her to drop out and get married. Talha and Zarina personify the hard choices between extremism and poverty that many young Pakistanis are forced to make today.

The Babushkas of Chernobyl (Holly Morris and Anne Bogart)

The Babushkas of Chernobyl is the story of a small group of old women who live in Chernobyl's radioactive "Exclusion Zone." For 28 years they have survived  and even, oddly  thrived on some of the most contaminated land on Earth. Why they refused evacuation after the 1986 disaster, defying authorities and seriously endangering their health, is remarkable story  about the pull of home, the healing power of shaping one's destiny and the subjective nature of risk. "The Babushkas of Chernobyl" is a documentary that offers a characterdriven, human perspective on contemporary global issues, including: nuclear power, postenvironmental disaster scenarios, women's issues and relocation trauma.

Baltimore in Black and White (Mary Posatko and Emily Topper)

One night in 1972, a murder rocked a Baltimore family. Years later, Emily Topper returns to the city, seeking closure for a crime that has haunted her family over 40 years—and uncovers complex issues of race and class in the process.

The Bill (Ramona Diaz)

The Bill is set in the Philippines, one of the world’s poorest and most populous countries, and its struggles with reproductive health policy. The Reproductive Health Bill guarantees access to contraception, maternal care, and sex education in schools. In a country where 85% of the population is Catholic, there is unrelenting opposition from the formidable Church. Nowhere are the stakes more starkly apparent than in Fabella Memorial Hospital, one of the busiest maternity public hospitals in the world. The film intercuts between the legislature and Fabella Hospital - contrasting the sluggish pace of policy development, as lawmakers parse the language of the RH Bill, and the rampant speed of childbirth, as the hospital’s whiteboard tracks the day’s deliveries. The story is told by the legislators, the patients, and the hospital workers through a combination of immersive scenes of the hospital and footage of the Senate hearings.

The Blind Cinema Club (Jennifer Redfearn)

In the heart of Havana, an enigmatic city infused with vibrant art, world-class music, and vivid displays of faith, we find an unusual story depicting the fiery Cuban spirit. Every month, scores of blind people meet to watch Cuban films accompanied by detailed audio descriptions. Tickets costs 4 cents and the films play in a gold and red 1950s theater. Among the filmgoers are three intriguing women: Lis, a flamenco singer who uses music and Santería rituals to overcome a spiritual crisis; Milly, a young woman who has survived three near-death experiences and fights for independence from her parents; and Margarita, a former member of the all-blind militia who seeks companionship after losing her husband and best friend. The film begins at the cinema club with an historical film about women’s liberation. We then follow the novelesque personal stories of our heroines in depth over three years, returning to the cinema club when the movies reflect their own lives.

Driving with Selvi (Elisa Paloschi)

Driving with Selvi follows the inspiring story of Selvi, South India’s first female taxi driver, over a 9-year period as she takes control of the steering wheel and her own life during a courageous transformation from abused child bride to empowered working mother.

In the Middle (Lorena Luciano)

Risking their lives by crossing the unforgiving waters of the Mediterranean Sea dividing Italy from Africa, two Arab families reach the Italian shores. One of them is shattered by a deadly shipwreck in the same waters they’d hoped would rescript their lives. The other is transferred to a small, impoverished town where the local Mayor is caught in between the mounting frustration of the refugees and a largely inert central government. In the Middle portrays the collision between two worlds unfolding in a remote Italian island, epicenter of a struggling economy that has little to offer the newcomers.

MATCH+: Love in the Time of HIV (Ann Kim and Priya Giri Desai)

How do you find love and marriage when you are HIV-positive in India, where marriage is a must but HIV/AIDS is unspeakable? Dr. Suniti Solomon might hold the answer. In 1986, she discovered HIV in India. Without affordable drugs then, all she could do was console her patients. Now, with India producing generic medications, her patients live longer – and face the pressure to marry. They look to Dr. Solomon as their secret matchmaker. MATCH+ interweaves Dr. Solomon’s unconventional journey with the lives of two patients: Karthik, a reticent bachelor, and Manu, a bubbly, professional woman infected by her first husband. Like other Indian matchmakers, Dr. Solomon matches by the religion, education, and income; but she also matches by viral loads and the disease’s progression. The film unfolds as a surprising love story, culminating in marriage for Karthik and Manu, and a portrait of love in the time of HIV.

Mudflow (Cynthia Wade and Sasha Friedlander)

Mudflow is the story of a giant, spewing, hot toxic mudflow in Indonesia, believed to be caused by poorly executed natural gas drilling. This eruption is one of the largest man-made disasters of recent times, yet relatively unknown beyond Indonesia. The mud volcano has been erupting violently for more than eight years, swallowing schools, villages and factories. It has permanently displaced 60,000 people and international scientists believe the mudflow will continue for another 20 years.

The Return (Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway)

In 2012, California voters amended the state’s Three Strikes Law - one of the harshest criminal sentencing laws in the nation. The landmark passage of Proposition 36 constituted the first time in history U.S. citizens voted to shorten sentences of the currently incarcerated. Within days, the reintegration of thousands of “lifers” – men and women once expecting to die in prison – was underway. THE RETURN weaves together a handful of close-to-the-bone narratives of characters on the front lines of this unprecedented shift: prisoners suddenly freed, families turned upside down, attorneys and judges wrestling with an untested law and reentry providers negotiating unfathomable transitions. Taken together, this constellation of stories yields an illuminating meta-narrative of an unfolding and historic reform, exploring what it can teach a nation reckoning with mass incarceration.

Speed Sisters (Amber Fares)

The Middle East’s first all-women motor racing team has come together in Palestine. Against a backdrop of political upheaval, Speed Sisters offers a surprising look into what it takes to go further and faster than imagined. Intimate and action-filled, Speed Sisters, captures the drive to follow your dreams against all odds, leaving in its trail shattered stereotypes about gender and the Arab world.

(T)ERROR (Lyric Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe)

(T)ERROR is the first film to document an active FBI counterterrorism sting operation, featuring unprecedented, real-time access to the investigation’s central players. The film captures the dramatic aftermath that occurs when the target of the investigation realizes he is being set up by an FBI informant. Interweaving this story with a penetrating look at the government’s broader counterterrorism campaign the film aims to demystify the nature of America’s terrorist threat, and to illuminate the political and ethical complexities of our country’s quest to protect the homeland. 

They Are All My Brothers (Nicole Opper)

Sixteen-year-old Juan Carlos ran away from an abusive home and lived on the streets of Mexico City for years before landing at IPODERAC, a unique group home for 72 boys in rural Puebla. Over the course of one year, in the care of his new family, we witness him transform into an independent young leader and prepare to return to Mexico City to offer his father forgiveness for the abuse he endured as a child.

Trapped (Dawn Porter)

At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by the age of 45. 4 in 10 unwanted pregnancies are terminated by abortion. What would happen if access to care for these cases completely disappeared? Trapped follows the progress of two Southern reproductive health clinics, capturing their struggles as they continue to provide care in the face of an increasingly hostile legal and political climate. The stakes are high for all women, but poor and minority women are facing a particularly harsh reality. Unable to afford to travel, when local clinics close it is those who have the least who suffer the most. 

Mentorship & Travel Grants 

Always in Season (Jacqueline Olive)

Always in Season examines the lingering impact of a century of lynching African-Americans while featuring three communities where relatives of the perpetrators and victims are working towards healing. In Laurens, SC, Rev. David Kennedy fights to close a store that sells KKK robes and neo-Nazi knick-knacks right in the middle of downtown and a mile from where his great-uncle was lynched. Meanwhile, in Monroe, GA, a diverse group of amateur actors reenact the 1946 lynching of two black couples in the very spot where the violence happened. They work to ensure that the nation never forgets the victims and any perpetrators still living are brought to justice. In Duluth, MN, Warren Read recently learned of his great-grandfather's instigating role in the 1920 lynching of three innocent men and meets with other relatives of the perpetrators and victims to uncover long-held family secrets of the violence as they try to reconcile.

Catching the Sun (Shalini Kantayya)

In a city where oil spills, ecological red-alerts, and poverty are commonplace, Catching the Sun asks the hard questions of how a clean energy economy may actually be built, through the stories of unemployed American workers seeking to retool at a solar power jobs training program in Richmond, California. Over the course of a solar training program and subsequent search for jobs, Catching the Sun explores the hope and heartbreak of unemployed American workers pursuing jobs in the clean energy economy. Through interwoven character dramas, Catching the Sun illuminates the promises and challenges facing this emerging industry. Catching the Sun tells the story of environmental transformation from the perspective of workers who may build a solution with their own hands, and their successes, failures, and challenges speak to one of the biggest questions of our time: will America actually be able to build a clean energy economy?

Cocaine Prison (Violeta Ayala)

From inside one of Bolivia’s most notorious prisons a cocaine worker, a drug mule, and his younger sister reveal the country’s relationship with cocaine. Cocaine Prison bridges the ever-widening gap between the North and the South and brings a new perspective to the War on Drugs as it is waged in the Andes.

Democrats (Camilla Nielsson)

An historic project has been underway in Zimbabwe. For the past four years, the opposition has tried to wrest powers from the 90-year-old dictator Robert Mugabe, and lead the country into a modern democracy, not through violence, but through democratic means by writing the country’s new constitution. Democrats is filed inside the political engine room of the constitutional reform process, and depicts how a democratic struggle against dictatorship plays out in practice. The opposition party is fighting for human rights and the separation of powers, while the ruling party wants to keep Mugabe and his horror regime intact. In the film, we follow the two top politicians, from respectively the opposition and the ruling parties, as they lead their country through the constitution making process. They are political enemies, but united in their struggle for political success. 

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four (Deborah Esquenazi)

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four documents the painful reality of how homophobia, “junk science,” and the Satanic ritual abuse panic of the late 1980s and early 1990s created a frenzy of pressure to punish four innocent gay women. Three of these women were sentenced to 15 years in prison while the fourth woman was sentenced to 37 years behind bars. The film also explores the long, tedious, yet dramatic process required in Texas to exonerate falsely convicted innocents. 

Sonita Means a Traveling Swallow (Rokhsareh Ghammaghami)

Sonita is an 18 year-old undocumented female Afghan immigrant who lives in Iran. She has formed a rap group with friends as an outlet for their problems, while her family plans to marry her off for 6,000 USD.

When Buddha Comes to Africa (Nicole Schafer)

A glimpse into the complex relationship between China and Africa through the story of a Malawian teenager growing up in a Chinese Buddhist orphanage and a Buddhist monk on a mission to save orphans and spread his faith in Africa. 

When Two Worlds Collide (Heidi Brandenburg and Matthew Orzel)

When Two Worlds Collide is about a young indigenous leader who resists the environmental ruin of Amazonian lands by big business. Forced into exile and facing life in prison, his quest reveals conflicting visions shaping the fate of the Amazon and the climate future of our world.

Yula’s Dream (Hanna Polak)

An extraordinary, thirteen-year journey about Yula growing up in one of the world's bleakest places - Moscow’s garbage dump “svalka” - and her dream of getting out one day, of having a family and a normal happy life. Yula’s Dream is a coming-of-age story, both literal and metaphoric; a story of one’s blazing desire for love and healing the fever of rejection.


Films that have received funding and mentorship support from Chicken & Egg Pictures include: Freeheld by Cynthia Wade (Academy Award® winner, Best Documentary Short Subject, 2008) and Saving Face by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge (Academy Award® winner, Best Documentary Short Subject, 2012); The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement by Gail Dolgin and Robin Fryday, and Kings Point, by Sari Gilman (both Academy Award® nominees); Semper Fi: Always Faithful by Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon (Ridenhour Prize, 2012, Emmy 2013 nominee); Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry by Alison Klayman (Special Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival, 2012 and Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, 2012); Call Me Kuchu by Katherine Fairfax-Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall (Teddy Award, Berlin Film Festival, 2012); and Brooklyn Castle by Katie Dellamaggiore (NAACP Image Awards 2013 nominee).


Bronwyn Cunningham, External Relations Manager, Chicken & Egg Pictures
(212) 875-0456 ext. 115

Adam J. Segal, The 2050 Group – Publicity
(202) 422-4673