SPOTLIGHT December 2015: Chicken & Egg Pictures’ Julie Parker Bonello, Wendy Ettinger and Judith Helfand

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awfjspotlightsmallsmallchicken and egg logoInspired by their core belief in the power of women storytellers, award-winning filmmakers Julie Parker Benello, Wendy Ettinger, and Judith Helfand founded Chicken & Egg Pictures in 2005 to create a space where women could learn from one another, test their limits, challenge the status quo, and break new ground as artists and activists. Celebrating the organization’s tenth anniversary this year, the Chicken & Egg team, which now includes Executive Director Jenni Wolfson, Interim Creative Director Yvonne Welbon, Program Manager Iyabo Boyd and a community of ‘eggspert’ advisors, boasts having awarded more than $3.7 million in grants to women making movies. Read more…

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The films they’ve supported have won Emmy® awards, Academy Awards®, Peabodys, and The Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize. And, they’ve very successfully influenced public opinion and public policy. Kudos and congrats to Chicken & Egg Pictures founders Julie Parker Bonello, Wendy Ettinger and Judith Helfand. They are a terrific triumvirate, and they are extraordinary individuals. Here are profiles of the women who hatched Chicken & Egg Pictures:

Julie Parker Bonello consistently acts upon her belief in the power of women storytellers to build and sustain movements for justice, equity, and health. julie bonello She is Founder and Managing Director of Gamechanger Films, an equity fund that is actively investing in a slate of independent narrative films by women directors. Julie has been Executive Producer on award-winning and critically acclaimed films, including Jill Soloway’s 2013 Sundance award-winning debut feature, Afternoon Delight, Dee Rees’ feature Pariah and Leigh Janiak’s debut horror film, Honeymoon. She also co-produced the 2002 Sundance award-winning documentary, Blue Vinyl, directed by Chicken & Egg co-founder Judith Helfand. Early in her career, she served as Production Executive for the distribution company Non Fiction Films and as an archival researcher for the Discovery Channel series Cronkite Remembers. Julie is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Global Fund for Women, San Francisco Film Society, and Gruber Family Foundation.

Wendy Ettinger is an ardent activist and philanthropist who believes deeply in the power of change through media, education, and the arts. wendy ettinger She focuses her efforts on the rights of women and girls, education, and the revitalization of cities through the arts. An award-winning producer and director, co-founded Gamechanger Films with Julie Parker Bonello. Through Gamechanger, she was the Executive Producer of Land Ho. Through Chicken & Egg Pictures, she was the Executive Producer of Pariah, directed by Dee Rees. Wendy was also the Executive Producer for the Academy Award®-nominated documentary, The War Room, directed by Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker. She produced Eye of God (Sundance Film Festival, 1997) and Hotel Gramercy Park (Tribeca Film Festival, 2008), and produced and directed Baby I’m Yours (Tribeca Film Festival, 2003). As a casting director, she’s worked with Ken Loach, Ang Lee, Hal Hartley, and James Lapine. She serves on the board of Working Films, The Educational Foundation of America, Imagine Science, and the 52nd Street Project, a nonprofit organization that brings theater professionals together with inner city children.

Judith Helfand, a Peabody Award-winning filmmaker, is best known for her ability to take on the dark and cynical worlds of chemical exposure, heedless corporate behavior, and environmental injustice and make them personal, resonant, and even entertaining. Judith helfand Three of her award-winning films had world premieres at Sundance, and all have been nationally broadcast on PBS, HBO, and The Sundance Channel and are linked to rigorous social media engagement. Her films include the The Uprising of ’34 (co-directed with esteemed veteran George Stoney), her groundbreaking personal film A Healthy Baby Girl, its Sundance award-winning sequel Blue Vinyl, followed by Everything’s Cool (both co-directed with Daniel B. Gold). She has taught the art of documentary film at New York University, the New School, and was the Filmmaker-in-Residence at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies in 2007 and 2009. As much an educator and field-builder as she is a filmmaker, Judith co-founded Working Films and sits on the boards of Great Small Works and The Lower East Side Girls Club. Her latest film in progress is Cooked, a feature documentary about the politics of disaster for which she was awarded a MacArthur grant.

Why We Chose Them: awfjspotlightsmallsmallSince Julie Parker Bonello, Wendy Ettinger and Judith Helfand founded Chicken $ Egg Pictures a decade ago, the organization has awarded nearly $4 million in grants and offered 5,200 hours of mentorship to over 190 films — all made by women. This trio of women who are creative and dedicated activists in their own work have generously helped other female filmmakers to fulfill their visions and share them with the world. They are exemplary in every way. Kudos for their achievements and congrats on their tenth anniversary. Here’s to many more years of success in promoting women in film!

–Jennifer Merin

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).