Chicken & Egg Pictures Expands Funding for Documentaries, Awarding Grants to 10 Films (EXCLUSIVE)

Ten documentary projects from eight countries have been selected as grantees of Project: Hatched, a Chicken & Egg Pictures program designed to support directors as they develop and launch strategic impact campaigns. 

Many of the selected projects had prestigious premieres at film festivals, including Sundance and IDFA. But despite the high-profile debuts, the dismal docu marketplace has forced filmmakers to figure out various alternative distribution models. Project: Hatched funding can help filmmakers ensure an impact campaign around a project that in all likelihood took years to make. Even films such as this year’s Project: Hatched grantee title “Pay or Die,” which was acquired by MTV Documentary Films, are in need of funding for an impact campaign.  

Each of the 10 selected film will receive $30,000, which will go towards completion funding and impact campaigns. This is the first year that the grant’s criteria were expanded to include international projects. Additionally, this year there was an increase in the number of projects supported, raising total funds disbursed from $240,000 in 2022 to $300,000 in 2023.  

The 10 grantee films are: “Bad Press,” “Big Fight in Little Chinatown,” “Freedom Hill,” “From the Shadows #missingirls,” “Liquor Store Dreams,” “Now That We Are Together,” “Pay or Die,” “Suddenly TV,” “The Mind Game,” and “Twice Colonized.” 

“We are seeking filmmakers with a strategic vision for the impact they wish to achieve,” said Sabine Fayoux Cantillo, Chicken & Egg associate director of program. “However, we also value a willingness to embrace diverse interpretations of what constitutes impact and engagement for each individual filmmaker, and how this work can evolve throughout the life of a film. All the films supported in this year’s cohort have the potential to create meaningful and specific impact on the lives of the people most affected by the issues being portrayed.

She added: “Each of them has thought deeply about developing their goals and strategies in collaboration with their film’s core audiences and participants, informed by mutually beneficial opportunities.” 

Several of the films selected for 2023 Project: Hatched funding touch on documentary impact practices and ethics in the collaboration between filmmakers and participants. In “The Mind Game,” filmmakers Eefje Blankevoort and Els van Driel decided to make make the docu’s participant, Sajid Khan Nasiri, an unaccompanied minor seeking asylum in Belgium, a co-director.  Similarly, in Danish filmmaker Lin Alluna’s first feature, “Twice Colonized,” the subject — Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter – was intimately involved with the development of the film. Alluna also collaborated with Inuit producers on the project and will work on an impact campaign to support Peter’s efforts to create a permanent EU forum for Indigenous peoples. 

The directors of the Project: Hatched 2023 films represent a range of backgrounds, expertise, and experience. “Bad Press” director Rebecca Landsberry-Baker is an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the executive director of the Native American Journalists Association. So Yun Um (“Liquor Store Dreams”) is a Korean American director, producer, and 2022-2023 BAFTA Breakthrough USA participant. Resita Cox (“Freedom Hill”) holds a degree in journalism, and her work has centered on Southern, Black communities while exploring environmental and racial justice.  

“This year’s Project: Hatched filmmakers exemplify how to creatively engage with audiences to move them to action,” said Chicken & Egg program director Kiyoko McCrae. “The range of films, from the deeply personal to the political, inspire us to think about the many ways that documentary films have the power to create social change.”  

Similar to the process in 2022, Chicken & Egg Pictures used a three-round review system for selecting projects. This included inviting previously supported filmmakers in their alumni community, AlumNest, and an internal committee made up of the Chicken& Egg Pictures team. 

From 2019 to 2022, Project: Hatched has supported 27 short and feature-length films.Recent grantees include Peabody nominee “Storm Lake,” directed by Beth Levison and Jerry Risius; “Any Given Day,” directed by Margaret Byrne; “Beba,” directed by Rebeca Huntt, and “Belly of the Beast,” directed by Erika Cohn. 

Past filmmakers who have received grants through the program have used their films to advocate for legislative reforms, hold community gatherings, and engage in important conversations with targeted influencers. Sally Rubin, who received funding in 2022 for “Mama Has a Mustache,” is currently showing the docu in schools along with an impact guide to stimulate discussions around gender identity and youth. “Crossings,” directed by 2022 grantee Deann Borshay Liem, has held ongoing impact screenings and events, which has led to approximately 500 individuals writing to their representatives, urging them to support Korea-related bills.  

Founded by Wendy Ettinger, Julie Parker Benello, and Judith Helfand in 2005, Chicken & Egg Pictures provides support and funding to women and non-binary doc filmmakers. The non-profit recently supported two 2021 Oscar-nominated films — “Writing With Fire” and “Ascension” — as well as the 2019 Oscar winning docu “American Factory.” The non-profit also provided support to Emmy-nominated “One Child Nation” (2019) and 2023 Sundance World Cinema Grand Jury Prize-winning “The Eternal Memory.” Since its inception, Chicken & Egg Pictures has awarded more than $12 million in grants and thousands of hours of creative mentorship to over 500 filmmakers. 

Project: Hatched is supported by The New York Community Trust.  

The Project: Hatched 2023 grantees are: 

(Note: The locations named in parentheses next to the film’s titles indicate the filmmakers’ nationalities and/or countries of origin.) 

“Bad Press” (U.S.) Co-Directors: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler 

Producers: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler 

When the Muscogee Nation censors its free press, a rogue reporter races to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle with ramifications for all of Indian Country. Premiered at Sundance 2023 and won the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Freedom of Expression. 

“Big Fight in Little Chinatown” (Canada) Director: Karen Cho 

Producers: Bob Moore, Katie McKay 

Residents, businesses, and community organizers fight to save their Chinatown neighborhoods from erasure in this story of resistance and resilience. Premiered at DOC NYC 2022 

“Freedom Hill” (U.S.) Director-Producer: Resita Cox 

In North Carolina, residents of Princeville—the first town in America incorporated by formerly enslaved freed Africans—resist the steady erosion of both flooding and environmental racism.

Premiered at Full Frame Documentary Festival 2022.

Acquired by WORLD  

“From the Shadows #missingirls” (India) Director-Producer: Miriam Chandy Menacherry

Producers: Sheena Matheiken, Aalia Furniturewala, Anand Ramayya, Gary Byung-Seok Kam Impact Producer: Triparna Banerjee 

An artist and an activist find glimmers of hope as they seek justice for survivors of India’s rampant child sex trafficking.

International premiere as a special International Women’s Day 2023 screening hosted by South Asian House and Film Independent’s Global Media Makers in Austin.

Acquired by TV2 Denmark and KBS in Korea. 

“Liquor Store Dreams” (U.S.) Director-Producer: So Yun Um 

Producer: Eddie Kim 

Two Korean American children of liquor store owners in Los Angeles set out to bridge generational divides with their immigrant parents. 

Premiered at Tribeca Festival 2022

Acquired by POV. 

“Now That We Are Together” (Mexico) Director-Producer: Patricia Balderas Castro 

Co-Producer: Claudia Ruiz Capdevielle 

Impact Producers: Merle Iliná and Michelle Plascencia 

After an unexpected encounter with a group of women taking back the streets, a filmmaker begins an intimate-yet-collective journey to understand her own experience with violence.

Premiered at Morelia International Film Festival 2022, where it won best movie directed by a woman and the audience favorite award.  

“Pay or Die” (Australia, Canada, U.S.) 

Directors/Producers: Rachael Dyer, Scott Alexander Ruderman 

Producer: Yael Melamede 

Three families facing life-or-death decisions reveal the harrowing reality of America’s insulin affordability crisis, where 2 million people are being held ransom to pharmaceutical profits.

Premiered at SXSW 2023.

Acquired by MTV Documentary Films. 

“Suddenly TV” (U.S.) Director-Producer: Roopa Gogineni 

At a besieged protest in Khartoum, young revolutionaries create an imaginary television station to confront the violence of the regime and conjure a new Sudan. 

Premiered at IDFA 2022 

“The Mind Game” (Afghanistan, Canada, Netherlands) 

Directors/Impact Producers: Eefje Blankevoort, Els van Driel, Sajid Khan Nasiri 

Producer: Laura Verduijn Impact Producers: Tina Farifteh, Nienke Huitenga, Lara Aerts, Khadidja Benouataf 

An Afghan teenager’s first-hand, cell-phone filmed perspective reveals the psychological pressure facing unaccompanied minor refugees. 

Premiered at Movies that Matter Festival 2023. 

The doc will broadcast on Dutch public television KRO-NCRV.  

“Twice Colonized” (Denmark)

Director: Lin Alluna

Producers: Emile Hertling Péronard, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, Stacey Aglok MacDonald, Bob Moore 

Renowned Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter, who has led a lifelong fight for the rights of Indigenous people, delves into her own origins to mend the wounds of dislocation, colonization, and loss.

Premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2023.

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