TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL – Josh Leong’s CHICKEN Inspired by True Stories from New York’s Incarcerated Youth

World premiere at Tribeca Film Festival

Director Josh Leong’s live-action narrative short, CHICKEN, was inspired by true stories of real children he first met while volunteering in NYC juvenile detention centers in the summer of 2021. This topical film will screen in competition at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival, featuring a real prison chick-hatching program, that the filmmakers partnered with. 

In a Bronx juvenile prison, a 16-year-old boy faced with losing custody of his child must discover what it takes to be a father through the raising of a chicken.

Introducing first-time actors Jordan C. Biggs and Biorkys Acosta, CHICKEN was shot on location in New York City by local NYU filmmakers. Committed to working alongside impacted BIPOC prison communities and recently-paroled children in the Bronx and Brooklyn, CHICKEN raises awareness for teen recidivism and supports local impact initiatives through partners Sprout by Design, C3.NYC’s Juvenile Justice Ministry, and the NYC Administration for Children’s Services. 

Josh Leong is an Asian-American writer, director, and producer from the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Awarded by President Obama, Josh won a Scholastic American Visions Award and graduated from NYU Tisch in 2021. He also won the One to Watch Award at the 2020 Asian American International Film Festival. LOST BOYS, his upcoming feature debut produced by Sundance and Berlinale-winning A51 Pictures, was a semi-finalist at the 2021 Sundance Creative Producing Lab and 2022 Development Track. Currently, he’s a selected writer with the MACRO x The Blacklist Feature Screenplay Incubator, WarnerMedia Writer Pipeline, and a semi-finalist at the DGA Commercial Directors Diversity Program. Having screened at six Academy Award®-qualifying festivals and in 11 countries worldwide, Josh also directed the Webby Award®-winning short, THE OTHER SIDE, starring Ethan Herisse from Ava DuVernay’s Emmy®-winning Netflix series, WHEN THEY SEE US. 

Screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival will be held on Sunday, June 12th at 5:45 pm and Monday, June 13th at 5:45 pm. The film is produced by Denyvi Rose, Nadera Herbert-Bey, Catherine Nguyen and Josh Leong – all NYU students. Luc Ung created the stunning cinematography. 


“This summer, I had the privilege of volunteering alongside C3.NYC’s Juvenile Justice Ministry at detention centers in the Bronx and Brooklyn. My first visit preceded Father’s Day, a difficult time for residents who were young parents – some merely 16 years old. Having grown up with difficult and sometimes traumatic home lives, many believe they don’t have what it takes to become a parent. Residents believe they’re programmed to repeat the actions of their own flawed fathers, and there’s no hope for their future.

Over the next months, I learned the prison ran a chick hatching program with Sprout by Design. It’s used as a gentling activity and to teach responsibility, but I also saw it as a metaphor for raising children. I learned that many residents develop attachments to their chicks – treating them like surrogate children. Ultimately, my intention with CHICKEN is to remind these children that they can still turn a new leaf – as fathers, working professionals, and dreamers in this world.”      –    Dir. Josh Leong