SNEAK PREVIEW: ARTIST BAHIA SHEHAB
CLIP: "ONE YEAR LATER"
This Kickstarter campaign will expand and update the award-winning 40-minute short documentary, Nefertiti's Daughters — a story of women, art, and revolution — into a feature-length film. All production and filming has been completed, and we are seeking backing to complete the editing and post-production phase by the end of March 2016.
The original short film began as a successful Kickstarter project less than two years ago, which provided funding for us to travel to Cairo, Egypt in April 2014 for 11 days of production. In 2015, Nefertiti's Daughters saw its World Premiere at the prestigious Aspen Shortsfest, won the Grand Jury prize at the Athens International Film Festival, has since been accepted to 16 festivals, and acquired by Icarus Films, a top documentary distributor.
Events on the ground in post-revolutionary Egypt deteriorated since we filmed in 2014, with a repressive military regime back in firm control after it overthrew a democratically-elected government, and rolled-back the hard-fought gains of the Revolution. As a result, there was a tremendous need to update and expand the short into a fully-formed feature-length film, and the original 40-minute short has provided us with a clear proof of concept, given how the film strongly resonated around the world.
"Three stories intersect in this compelling short film from director Mark Nickolas: the emergence of Egyptian street art, the oppression of women in the country, and the revolution that toppled President Hosni Mubarak but didn't stop government brutality against Egyptians." —Aspen Times
Nefertiti's Daughters is a feature-length documentary film that spotlights women, art, and revolution, and documents the critical role that revolutionary street art played—and continues to play—during the political uprisings since the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.
Following the ouster of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak, when millions of Egyptians took to Tahrir Square for 18 days in early 2011 to express their demands for “bread, freedom, and social justice,” an even more repressive military regime under current President (and former Army general) Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been the subject of growing international alarm.
Beyond Sisi's merciless efforts to crush any oppositional artistic expression — including street art — his regime has been condemned around the world for its increasing use of sexual violence as a political tool against his own people, as well as the accelerated targeting of journalists who are simply trying to do their job and shine light on the actions of the government.
The film introduces a group of courageous, gifted, and internationally-acclaimed female artists and activists, who are deeply involved in the struggle for social and political justice, and illustrates the surprising ways that artwork can become a powerful tool in the ongoing fight for civil and human rights. As the artists speak of their work, and the ways that it is inspired by and responds to a violent and complicated political environment, we are offered a rare window into the struggles of living and creating in Egypt today.
Through this film, we witness how the revolutionary street art coming out of the Revolution served many functions: memorializing acts of government brutality; calling potential comrades into the struggle; turning the tables on male predators and sexism; and even imagining a world where a woman would be permitted to sing the sacred Adhan, the Muslim call for prayer.
We also learn how street art has long been a key means of communication and dissent during times of political transformation and social instability. Techniques, styles and symbols from Egyptian history are re-appropriated and adapted to become relevant today—including the image of the legendary Queen Nefertiti, a powerful symbol in an ongoing fight for justice.
THE STATUS OF THE FILM
All production for the feature-length version of Nefertiti's Daughters has been completed and we have already begun shifting all efforts into the final editing and post-production phase.
We remain confident that we will be ready to submit to film festivals by Spring 2016, with a specific target of meeting the March submission deadline for the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
Filmmakers Mark Nickolas and Elizabeth Van Meter come to this collaboration following significant award-winning accomplishments with their most recent films.
ELIZABETH VAN METER (Producer and Co-Director)
Elizabeth's first feature-length documentary film, Thao's Library (2015), recently won the Audience Choice Award at the inaugural Bentonville Film Festival, which actress Geena Davis specifically created to spotlight women and diversity in film. As a result, Elizabeth was awarded a week long nationwide theatrical run in AMC theaters in 20 cities across the United States and a distribution deal that will sell Thao's Library in Wal-Mart stores throughout the country, as well as video-on-demand on VUDU.
Elizabeth's previous documentary work has taken her from the Andes Mountains of Peru to the Tohoku region of Japan (Hand in Hand, Lincoln Center 2014). She also directed and produced 40 short films for Gorgeous Entertainment documenting the lives of Japanese-Americans.
Elizabeth is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
MARK NICKOLAS (Director and Producer)
Prior to the accolades received for the 40-minute version of Nefertiti's Daughters, Mark earned considerable national media coverage from NPR, CNBC, and The Atlantic for his first short documentary film, My Life in the Canyon of Heroes (2013), a Smithsonian magazine finalist, which had its theatrical premiere at the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Before moving into documentary filmmaking, Mark was a long-time veteran of national Democratic politics, most notably as an aide to Vice President Al Gore and later managed a number of gubernatorial and congressional campaigns across the country before becoming a prominent figure in the political media world, and eventually entering the filmmaking world.
Mark earned his bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and his master's degree in Media Studies and Film from The New School in New York City.
Both filmmakers live in New York City.
Filmmaking is not an inexpensive endeavor and funds for independent documentaries are in short supply. Your donations will allow us to fully finish this film, which involves these specific things:
- editing: hire a seasoned documentary editor to work with the filmmakers.
- composer/music: hire a composer for an original film score.
- sound design + sound mix: hire a sound designer and sound engineer to complete the final audio work.
- color correction/mix: hire a colorist to correct and refine the film visuals.
- reimburse production costs: reimburse the costs of filming and travel-related expenses for the additional feature-length production.
- license footage/materials + rights: allow us to acquire rights and licenses to use footage and images for the final film.
- film festival submissions: allow us to pursue an aggressive film festival campaign (75-100 submissions), with festival submission fees running between $35 and $75 for each.
- transfer/DCP conversion: convert finished film into a digital format for theatrical screening.
- key art design: costs associated with creating the film poster, post cards, DVD and Blu-ray covers, and the electronic press kit.
- printing: printing costs for DVDs, Blu-rays, posters, and post cards.
- E&O insurance + legal + accounting: administrative expenses to legally complete the film.
- Kickstarter rewards: though we were careful to create great rewards for our donors, we were also cost-conscious in making sure that they accounted for a reasonable portion of the overall budget to create, acquire and ship to you.
Anything you can do to help our project is so incredibly appreciated. We are grateful for every contribution, Tweet, Facebook post, and words of support and encouragement! We are not here simply to raise money — as important as fundraising is. Kickstarter has shown itself to be a way for filmmakers to build communities, bringing together people who feel invested and are active participants in our creative work — this one — and those that we will continue to make. We hope you'll be with us for journeys to come.
This is a story that the world needs to know about. Thank you for taking the time to consider our project. We hope you will join us on this amazing journey.
Best, Elizabeth and Mark
Risks and challenges
Documentary filmmaking is about being flexible—getting past unexpected obstacles by finding creative solutions. Film projects rarely unfold without navigating roadblocks and always being ready for a back-up plan as you're shooting.
Thankfully, all production has been completed on this project and the security situation on the ground in Egypt will not be a factor in finishing the film. The greatest uncertainty moving forward is simply making sure that our editing and post-production work flows on schedule and that there are no major unexpected financial issues that slow us down.
But should these trouble arise and a setback manages to delay post-production, the most-likely outcome would be missing a film festival deadline. Regardless, our Kickstarter backers will still screen it first!
On a creative level, our challenge here is the one that all documentary filmmakers face when going into such a project: finding a narrative arc that, through images and interviews and music, creates a powerful and compelling story. Since this film is an update and expansion of an existing 40-minute, award-winning short, and all shooting has been completed, we are very confident that the risks and challenges facing us are much less problematic than with new projects, or those where filming has not yet begun.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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