5 Chicken & Egg Pictures Grantees Head to Sundance, More Women Directors in '13


Recently honored Cara Mertes, Director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program

Films nominated for Academy Awards, IDA Awards, and NAACP Image Award 


PARK CITY, UT – 2013 year is shaping up to be a banner year for women filmmakers and Chicken & Egg Pictures, the award-winning nonprofit film fund dedicated to supporting women filmmakers.

Five grantees of Chicken & Egg Pictures are headed to the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah this week, joining a record number of women filmmakers whose films will premiere at the festival. After Tiller, directed by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson; Citizen Koch, directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal; Gideon’s Army, directed by Dawn Porter; and Valentine Road, directed by Marta Cunningham, will all have their world premieres in the U.S. Documentary Competition at Sundance, the first major film festival of the year. The Square, directed by Jehane Noujiam, will have its world premiere in the World Documentary Competition at Sundance.

Chicken & Egg Pictures is the only nonprofit film fund devoted solely to supporting women documentary filmmakers, like those premiering films at Sundance. In its most recent funding cycle last month, the organization awarded $220,000 in grants to women directors, bringing the total grant amount provided to $2.7 million since its inception seven years ago. The Chicken & Egg model matches strategically-timed grants with dynamic mentorship focused on story, craft, and community engagement. 

The Sundance Institute has been an important ally in the work of Chicken & Egg Pictures. And the organization recently honored Cara Mertes (Director of the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program) and her programming team with its 2012 Good Egg Award

“For the past seven years Chicken & Egg Pictures has been on a mission to increase the number of women documentary filmmakers developing successful films and being represented at major international film festivals,” said Julie Parker Benello, co-founder of Chicken & Egg Pictures. "One of our greatest allies in this effort has been Cara Mertes. With incredible speed and determination, Cara has forged ahead with critical funding and creative labs that have accelerated the path for women filmmakers to bring their films to the public.”

The Sundance Documentary Film Program (DFP) and Fund that Mertes oversees grants between $1-2 million per year to independent documentarians globally. In addition, the DFP provides critical support year-round with their Creative Documentary Labs, panels and convenings at the Sundance Film Festival and other events.

A Year of Awards

“We are so proud of what our grantees have accomplished this past year,” said Wendy Ettinger, co-founder of Chicken & Egg Pictures. “We first saw these projects with just a few minutes of footage, and they have blossomed into award-winners and game changers.” 

Recent films supported by Chicken & Egg Pictures have received awards nominations and buzz. Silverdocs award-winner Kings Point (Sari Gilman) and Sundance award-winner The Invisible War (Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick) were both nominated for the Academy Awards and IDA Awards for Best Documentary Short and Best Documentary Feature. Saving Face (Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Daniel Junge) received the IDA Award for Best Short this winter, following its win at the 2012 Academy Awards for Best Documentary Short Subject.

In 2012, Semper Fi: Always Faithful received the Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize and was honored by President Barack Obama during a bill signing in the White House Oval Office for legislation the film helped pass. Additionally, the powerful film Call Me Kuchu, which will be released in theaters this year, received the Teddy Award for Best Documentary at the Berlin Film Festival.

Finally, SXSW award-winner Brooklyn Castle has been nominated for Outstanding Documentary at the 44th NAACP Image Awards. Directed by Katie Dellamaggiore and executive produced by Chicken & Egg Pictures, the film has had received tremendous national attention including appearances on the TODAY Show, CBS This Morning, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Steve Harvey Show, The Jeff Probst Show and many more. 


About Chicken & Egg Pictures

Chicken & Egg Pictures is a nonprofit film fund dedicated to supporting women documentary filmmakers whose diverse voices have the power to change the world as we know it. Since its founding in 2005 by award-winning independent filmmakers Julie Parker Benello, Wendy Ettinger, and Judith Helfand, Chicken & Egg Pictures has provided more than $2.7 million in financial support for women filmmakers and over 4,000 hours of dynamic mentorship focused on story, craft, and community engagement. The organization received the Loreen Arbus Award for Those Who Take Action to Effect Change from the New York Women in Film and Television (2009), for making a significant contribution to promoting the advancement of women in the entertainment industry. More information is available at

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