Held annually each Fall, the Margaret Mead Film Festival was founded in honor of pioneering anthropologist Margaret Mead, one of the first anthropologists to recognize the significance of film for fieldwork. The Mead screens documentaries, experimental films, animation, and hybrid works that increase our understanding of the complexity and diversity of the peoples and cultures that populate our planet.
The American Museum of Natural History’s Margaret Mead Film Festival is presented by the Museum’s Public Programs division in the Department of Education, and will take place this year on October 23-26.
The Margaret Mead Film Festival encompasses a broad spectrum of work, from indigenous community media to experimental nonfiction. The Festival is distinguished by its outstanding selection of titles, which tackle diverse and challenging subjects, representing a range of issues and perspectives, and by the forums for dialogue with filmmakers, invited speakers, and film protagonists.
Tackling diverse and challenging cultural and social issues, the Mead Festival has introduced New York audiences to such acclaimed films as the Oscar-winning documentary The Blood of Yingzhou District (2006), Oscar-winning animated short The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation (2005), The Future of Food (2004), Power Trip (2003), and Spellbound (2002). The Mead Festival has a distinguished history of “firsts,” including being the first venue to screen the now-classic documentary Paris Is Burning (1990) about the urban transgender community.
Installations and interactive events around the Museum complement the extraordinary slate of films and serve to further illuminate the many cultures celebrated at this year’s Margaret Mead Film Festival. The Festival also features “dialogues,” special programs that offer audiences a forum for dynamic conversations about festival themes, close looks at unique collaborations, and opportunities to engage with artists and scholars.
The Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award recognizes documentary filmmakers who embody the spirit, energy, and innovation demonstrated by anthropologist Margaret Mead in her research, fieldwork, films, and writings. The award is given to a filmmaker whose feature documentary displays artistic excellence and originality of storytelling technique while offering a new perspective on a culture or community remote from the majority of our audiences’ experience. Filmmakers with works making their U.S. premieres at the festival are eligible.
The contenders for this year’s Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award are:
- Angus Gibson and Jemma Jupp, directors, 28 Up South Africa (US Premiere): Diverse stories of young South Africans illuminate the tumultuous cultural and political history of the country since the end of apartheid.
- José Cohen and Lorenzo Hagerman, directors, H2O MX (US Premiere): H2O MX examines the daily issues Mexico City faces managing its water, reminding us that sustainability is deeply linked to social justice.
- Simona Ghizzoni and Emanuela Zuccalà, directors, Just to Let You Know That I’m Alive (US Premiere): Saharawi women tell their story after enduring some of the most severe human rights abuses in the last thirty years.
- Sebastian Junger, director, The Last Patrol (US Premiere): Affecting follow-up to Restrepo, about the director’s year spent embedded in Afghanistan, exploring war’s lasting impact on combat vets.
- Tham N’guyen Thi, director, Madame Phung’s Last Journey (US Premiere): Madame Phung’s Last Journey follows a troupe of Vietnamese cross-dressing singers on their journey through the country’s back roads for a year.
- Daniel Ziv, director, Jalanan (US Premiere): A film about Indonesia, street music, love, prison, politics, sex, corruption, rice fields, globalization and heartache!
- Adam Zucker, director, The Return (US Premiere): Four Polish women raised Catholic set out to become strong, dynamic Jewish leaders, faced with the unique task of building an identity in a vacuum.
- Lynette Wallworth, director, Tender (US Premiere): In the industrial town of Port Kembla, a community center embarks on a noble and atypical quest: to serve the townspeople with a not-for-profit funeral service.