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by Mark Elijah Rosenberg
February 9th, 2011

Rooftop has a partnership with Chicken & Egg Pictures, a wonderful and daring organization that supports female filmmakers. Together, we make cash grants to emerging female artists making short films, pairing them with a mentor to help them along in their careers. Any filmmaker who has screened a work at Rooftop (submit now!) or any filmmaker who has applied to Chicken & Egg (new deadlines soon) is eligible to apply for our grant. You can read about our grants here.

Today, Chicken & Egg announced the recipients of their Which Came First Fund (as in, the chicken or the egg, as in, how can an emerging filmmaker get started without funding, how can you fund an emerging filmmaker without a body of work to judge…?) Chicken & Egg is bravely funding both the former and the latter.

Here’s the word, straight from the Chicken’s mouth:

Women founded, led & run hybrid foundation/non-profit production organization announces eight new film projects to be supported by their Environmental-focused “Which Came First Fund.”

NEW YORK (February 8, 2011) – Chicken & Egg Pictures, the hybrid film fund and non-profit production company dedicated to supporting women filmmakers, is proud to announce the grant recipients from their first open call dedicated to supporting story-driven films tackling the most critical environmental issues of the day.

Now in its sixth year of operation, with over $1.5 million in grants and over 3,000 mentorship hours provided to women filmmakers, Chicken & Egg Pictures is indeed ”incubating and hatching all at once.” A unique hybrid of a film fund, philanthropic organization and ”hands-with” production entity, Chicken & Egg Pictures provides strategically-timed financial support with rigorous, respectful and dynamic mentorship, creative collaboration and community-building opportunities.

Founded in 2005 by award-winning independent producer/directors Julie Parker Benello, Wendy Ettinger and Judith Helfand, Chicken & Egg Pictures has this mission in mind: ”we strive to nurture and support women filmmakers whose diverse voices represent a range of lived experiences and realities that have the power to change the world as we know it.”

This spring, more than 100 applications were submitted for consideration of the new mission- driven WHICH CAME FIRST FUND, dedicated to supporting films that are tackling the most critical environmental issues of our day. Past grantees in this relatively new fund include BAG IT, last year’s Academy shortlisted documentary, GARBAGE DREAMS and recently oscar- nominated short documentary SUN COME UP. Which Came First Fund grantees from the Chicken & Egg Pictures 2010 Fall Open Call announced today are:

BETTING THE FARM, directed by Cecily Pingree and Jason Mann
Betting the Farm follows three farm families as they launch a new milk company in a desperate attempt to save their farms. Will their gamble rescue them—and with them an entire way of life—or will it leave them worse off than when they started?

CASINO NATION by Laure Sullivan
After a long and bloody struggle, the Seneca Nation Of Indians traded thousands of acres of land for a casino empire. The pro casino faction views this as progress, but for traditionalists, who believe that land is essential to their beliefs and way of life, this represents the “end of days”. Casino Nation explores the cultural, political and moral collision between this older way of life and the $20 billion dollar Native American gambling industry.

CHESHIRE, OHIO, directed by Eve Morgenstern
What happens to an Ohio-River town once its overrun by one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the world? The power plant makes a 20 million dollar deal to buy out most of the town and bulldoze all the homes. A gun toting 83-year old woman named Boots refuses to sell and stays put. Residents, confronted with difficult choices seek out this filmmaker to offer 8mm home movies, archival photographs and testimony about the meaning of “home”. Cheshire, Ohio is an elegiac story that blends historic and contemporary footage and testimony from residents, about the increasingly difficult choices we face related to the environment, and makes us think twice about home.

GREEN SHALL OVERCOME (working title), directed by Megan Gelstein
Green Shall Overcome is a character driven feature length documentary about the controversial environmental leader Van Jones. Shot over three years, with unprecedented access, the film follows Jones as he works to build “a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty.” From his office in Oakland to his office at The White House this film takes a behind-the-scenes look at the national movement for green-collar jobs.

OIL AND WATER, directed by Francine Strickwerda and Laurel Spellman Smith
Two boys come of age looking for solutions to the global problem of reckless oil drilling. Hugo fights for the survival of his Amazonian tribe while David launches the world’s first company to fair-trade certify oil.

SOLARIZE THIS, directed by Shalini Kantayya
In a city where oil spills, air quality red-alerts, and poverty are commonplace, Solarize This looks beyond the debates around global warming, and asks the hard questions of how a green economy may actually be built, through the stories of three working-class trainees at a solar power jobs training program in Richmond, CA.

STORY OF SUBSIDIES, directed by Annie Leonard
The next in The Story of Stuff film series, The Story of Subsidies will provide a critical look at the role of government subsidies in propping up yesterday’s obsolete and dirty economy and will offer an alternative: working together to ensure our money builds the clean, green, healthy and fair economy of the future!

UNDER WATER’S MERCY, directed by Sharon Linezo Hong
A young Native American woman returns to her family in Southeast Louisiana to find a man- made environmental crisis threatening their way of life. She overcomes great personal loss, and redefines the meaning of home.

LIBERTY GRANT
The Liberty Grant from Chicken & Egg Pictures enables a filmmaker to stop fundraising, focus on the creative side of completing her film and launch on the festival circuit with her rights and spirit intact. The film Freeheld from Cynthia Wade received the Liberty Grant and went on to the Academy Awards® in 2008 where it received the Oscar® for Best Documentary Short Subject and was broadcast on HBO. The Liberty Grant recipient announced today goes to an existing grantee whose vision we wholly believe in and continue to cheer on as it nears the completion line:

OUR SCHOOL directed by Mona Nicoara co-directed by Miruna Coca-Cozma
Three Roma (“Gypsy”) children from a small Transylvanian town participate in a project to desegregate the local school, struggling against indifference, tradition and bigotry with humor, optimism and sass. Our School is a bitter-sweet story about hope and race, and an elegy about generational prejudice and squandered opportunities.


To read more about the grant partnership between Rooftop and Chicken & Egg, click here.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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