Chicken & Egg Pictures Helps Female Filmmakers Overcome Movie Industry's Challenges

Female filmmakers face a lot of unique challenges in the movie industry, from getting top distribution deals to, most importantly, getting funding for their projects. One organization in DUMBO has spent the past decade trying to even the playing field for female documentary filmmakers. NY1's Stephanie Simon has the story.

The talk about film this year has centered on diversity. Perhaps, surprisingly, female documentary filmmakers have better numbers than female feature-film directors.

"In nonfiction, about 30-40 percent of filmmakers are women,” said Jenni Wolfson, executive director of Chicken & Egg Pictures. “And in fiction, it’s about three percent, so the documentary field is definitely much further ahead."

Still, there is a long way to go. It is a journey Chicken & Egg Pictures has been on for ten years, supporting female documentary filmmakers. Their name reflects the struggle.

"It’s a little bit of a chicken and egg: If you don’t have any money, then you can’t shoot a trailer or have some footage to go out there and raise money,” Wolfson said. “The chicken and the egg came from the fact that we would support you very early on in a project, so that filmmakers could shoot a trailer and go out and get the money they need to complete the film."

They have supported more than 200 films, including "Sonita" about a refugee from Afganistan, who dreams of being a rapper.

They also supported "When Two Worlds Collide,” a film about industry versus the environment in Peru. Both won awards at Sundance.

Chicken and Egg Pictures continues to push the envelope, and for the first time, is supporting a virtual reality project.

"[The virtual reality project is] about solitary confinement,” Wolfson said. “You basically crawl into a little space, and you put on your Oculus Rift headset, and you get to experience as much as you can experience what it might be like to be in a tiny little cell."

Another recent film "Camereperson" is Kirsten Johnson's look back at 25 years in documentary film.

"Some people are filmed because there is an urgent social question that needs to be addressed and no one’s listening to their story, and in other situations people have hopes and aspirations that come along with being in a documentary,” said the movie’s filmmaker Kirsten Johnson. “Sometimes we can deliver on those and sometimes we can’t."

“Camerperson” was selected to close out MoMA's "New Directors/New Films" series with screenings March 26th and 27th.  Check it out.

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