Congratulations are in order: Chicken & Egg Pictures has announced more than $650,000 in new grants to eight recipients of its 2023 Chicken & Egg Award. Created to “recognize the reality that only a few women and non-binary nonfiction filmmakers in the U.S. and abroad are able to work full-time as independent storytellers,” the award offers selected documentary filmmakers who are at advanced-career stages with a $75,000 grant as well as “a tailored year-long mentorship program that is targeted to the goals of each individual grant recipient,”per a press release announcing the awardees.
The 2023 recipients are Angela Tucker (“Belly of the Beast”), Ilinca Calugareanu (“A Cops and Robbers Story”), Jeanie Finlay (“Game Of Thrones: The Last Watch”), Lisa Jackson (“How a People Live”), Nico Opper (“The F Word”), Rea Tajiri (“Wisdom Gone Wild”), Sabaah Folayan (“Whose Streets?”), and Sonia Kennebeck (“United States vs. Reality Winner”).
“The reality is that, even in 2023, it’s still incredibly difficult for women and non-binary people to make careers as independent storytellers. The numbers tell the tale: two-thirds of documentaries are helmed by men,” said Jenni Wolfson, CEO of Chicken & Egg Pictures. “This chasm in representation means that men have an outsized role in telling the stories of who we are, and what’s important. Chicken & Egg Pictures is thrilled to play a role in righting this wrong, and to recognize the talent and contributions of these incredible filmmakers.”
Two finalists, Farida Pacha and Salomé Jashi, will receive a $15,000 Chicken & Egg Award Finalist Development Grant for their projects.
You can find more information about the Chicken & Egg Award recipients below, courtesy of the press release.
Angela Tucker (US)
Angela Tucker (she/her) is an Emmy® and Webby Award-winning filmmaker working in scripted and unscripted film and television, highlighting underrepresented communities in unconventional ways. Her recent work includes NYT Critic’s Pick Belly of the Beast (dir. Erika Cohn) and A New Orleans Noel, a Lifetime holiday film starring Patti LaBelle. Her documentaries in production are The Inquisitor, about political icon Barbara Jordan, and Steam (working title), about ancient and alternative health treatments spanning the globe.
Ilinca Calugareanu (Romania/UK)
Ilinca Calugareanu (she/her) is a UK-based Romanian filmmaker. Her directing titles include feature documentaries Chuck Norris vs Communism (Sundance, 2015), A Cops and Robbers Story (Doc NYC, 2020); and short documentaries VHS vs. Communism (Op-Docs- The New York Times), Erica: Man Made (Guardian Documentaries) and The Joys and Sorrows of Young Yuguo (Netflix, 2022). She is a Berlinale Talents Alumna, Chicken & Egg Pictures (Egg)celerator Lab Grantee, Sundance Institute’s National Geographic Fellow, and an SFFILM Rainin Screenwriting Grantee.
Jeanie Finlay (UK)
Jeanie Finlay (she/her) is one of Britain’s most distinctive documentary makers whose award-winning work for cinema and television–made with steel and heart–tells intimate stories for international audiences.
Her credits include films for HBO and IFC, and four commissions for BBC Storyville, with works including the (extra)ordinary pregnancy of a British trans man, and British Independent Film Awards (BIFA)-nominated, Seahorse; Emmy®-nominated documentary about the world’s biggest show, Game Of Thrones: The Last Watch; the story of the last record shop in Teesside–SOUND IT OUT; the BIFA-nominated The Great Hip Hop Hoax; Panto!; and the BIFA-winning Orion: The Man Who Would Be King. Jeanie is currently underway on her tenth feature documentary.
Lisa Jackson (Canada)
Lisa Jackson (she/her) is an Anishinaabe filmmaker whose work has garnered two Canadian Screen Awards, a Webby Award nomination, and has screened at top festivals including Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW, Berlinale, and Hot Docs. Known for cross-genre work that expands narrative boundaries and covers topics as diverse as catfishing, Indigenous languages, and lichen, she’s committed to Indigenous screen sovereignty. In 2021, Lisa was recognized by the Documentary Organization of Canada with their prestigious Vanguard Award.
Nico Opper (US)
Nico Opper (they/them) is an Emmy®-nominated filmmaker based in Oakland, California. They directed The F Word (2018), which was nominated for a Gotham Award and an IDA Award; Visitor’s Day (2016); and Off and Running (2010). They also produced Try Harder! (2021), which premiered at Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. Nico has been featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s annual “25 New Faces of Independent Film” and DOC NYC’s “40 Under 40.”
Rea Tajiri (US)
Rea Tajiri (she/her) is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist and educator who creates installations, documentaries, and experimental films. Her work situates itself in poetic, non-traditional storytelling forms to encourage dialog and reflection around buried histories.
Tajiri’s work has received support from JustFilms/Ford Foundation, the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and the Leeway Transformation Award. Additionally, she received a Rockefeller Media Fellowship and two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships. Her latest documentary Wisdom Gone Wild, screened in the International Competition at IDFA, and in the American Lives section at DOC NYC. It won the Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary and Jury Award Honorable Mention for Best Feature Documentary at the 2022 Blackstar Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize from the San Diego Asian Film Festival as the Centerpiece Film, the Audience Award and Best Documentary Award at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. Tajiri is an Associate Professor in the Film Media Arts Department at Temple University where she teaches Documentary Film production.
Sabaah Folayan (US)
Through screenwriting, filmmaking, and public speaking, Sabaah Folayan (she/they) levels an optimistic yet unflinching gaze on the urgent questions of our time.
Sabaah made her directorial debut at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, with the feature-length documentary Whose Streets? Nominated for a Peabody Award, Critics Choice Award, Gotham Award, and NAACP Award, the film chronicles the experiences of activists living in Ferguson, Missouri when Michael Brown Jr. was killed. Whose Streets? was distributed theatrically by Magnolia Pictures, broadcast for television by POV, and is now streaming on Netflix.
In 2021, Sabaah wrote the series finale of HBO’s Betty, a critically acclaimed comedy series about a crew of young female skateboarders in New York City. Her second documentary feature LOOK AT ME: XXXTENTACION premiered at SXSW 2022 and is now streaming on Hulu.
Sonia Kennebeck (Malaysia/Germany/US)
Sonia Kennebeck (she/her) is an award-winning director, producer, and investigative journalist. Her directing credits include critically-acclaimed feature films United States vs. Reality Winner (SXSW 2021), Enemies of the State (TIFF 2020), and National Bird (Berlinale 2016). Kennebeck received the Adrienne Shelly Excellence in Filmmaking Award, a Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize, and an Emmy® nomination. She was recognized as one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers and Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film.
Additional information about Chicken & Egg Award Finalist Grant Recipients:
Farida Pacha (India)
Award-winning documentary filmmaker Farida Pacha (she/her) studied Anthropology and Sociology in Mumbai before obtaining her MFA in filmmaking at Southern Illinois University. Her debut feature documentary, My Name is Salt (2013), has won 35 international awards including the main prizes at film festivals in Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Hong Kong, Madrid, and Mumbai, as well as the prestigious German Camera Prize. Her latest documentary Watch Over Me (2021) received the Grand Jury Documentary Award at the Movies that Matter Festival at The Hague and was nominated for The Robert and Frances Flaherty Award at the Yamagata International Film Festival.
In 2018, she received the IDFA Bertha Fund Europe and the Jan Vrijman Fund in 2008 and 2010.
Salomé Jashi (Georgia)
Salomé Jashi studied documentary filmmaking at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her film Taming the Garden (2021) premiered at Sundance Film Festival and Berlinale Forum and was nominated for the European Film Awards. Her film The Dazzling Light of Sunset (2016) was awarded the Main Prize at Visions du Réel’s Regard Neuf Competition and other festivals. Her earlier work Bakhmaro (2011) was nominated for the Asia Pacific Screen Awards. Her producing work How the Room Felt (2021) premiered at IDFA’s main competition.
Salomé was a fellow of Nipkow Scholarship in 2017 and DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program in 2020. She is a member of European Film Academy and a co-founder of DOCA Documentary Association Georgia.