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AMNH Presents The 2014 Margaret Mead Film Festival

The 2014 Margaret Mead Film Festival-the preeminent showcase for contemporary cultural media and conversation in the unique setting of the American Museum of Natural History-will screen 44 outstanding films from more than 50 countries and host special events and performances from Thursday, October 23, through Sunday, October 26.

This year, the festival's selections-including 14 U.S. premieres-will focus on the tension between tradition and its contemporary relevance. With the theme "Past Forward," the Mead explores how cultural touchstones needn't be trapped in amber but can burst through as beacons for navigating modern life. The festival explores several overlapping themes such as how rituals and music awaken the rhythms that shape our lives, the sacredness of traditional language and shared history, and how individuals draw on their cultural heritage to thrive in today's world.

"Each year, the filmmakers, artists, and scholars presented at the Mead delight us with exquisite imagery and storytelling, at the same time provoking us to redefine our understanding of cultures and peoples around the world," said Ruth Cohen, senior director of education strategic initiatives and director of the Center for Lifelong Learning at the Museum. "Continuing to honor the legacy of Margaret Mead and mining the rich collections and research in anthropology at American Museum of Natural History, the festival provides each audience member with the opportunity to discover, contemplate and in a way, determine, our shared human journey."

The American Museum of Natural History's 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. It encompasses a broad spectrum of work, from indigenous community media to experimental nonfiction, and 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.

This year's films shed light on contemporary culture through the work of filmmakers from countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, Poland, and Vietnam. With more than 40 filmmakers and protagonists in attendance this year, the festival's post-screening discussions will allow audiences to participate in rich, engaging, and intimate conversations.

Festival Opening and Closing Nights

The opening-night film on Thursday, October 23, is the U.S. premiere of The Last Patrol, an HBO Documentary Film directed by Sebastian Junger. Junger, war journalist and author of The Perfect Storm, explores the return home from war on a soul-searching journey with three comrades-in-arms from Afghanistan. Junger, joined by Brendan O'Bryne and Dave Rolsch, protagonists of Junger's Academy Award-nominated documentary, Restrepo, and combat journalist Guillermo Cervera walk along railroad TRACKS from Washington Pennsylvania, discussing the transition from combat to civilian life. The film will debut on HBO November 10.

Closing night will feature The Darkside, directed by Warwick Thornton, on Sunday, October 26. Award-winning indigenousdirector Thornton takes a plunge into the hereafter with this stunning documentary hybrid that gathers indigenous ghost stories from across Australia and sets them elegantly to film. The tales are delivered verbatim in monologue form by some of Australia's most beloved actors, framed in settings that are alternately lush, surreal, or theatrical invoking a sense of the uncanny.

Additional films screening include:

Kismet, directed by Nina Maria Paschalidou. In the last decade, Turkish soap operas have taken the Middle East by storm, becoming one of the country's greatest economic exports and inspiring cultural shifts. With unprecedented access to the industry's most glamorous actors and creative talent, Kismet unravels the secret of this phenomenal success that transcends religion and culture and explores how Turkish soaps have helped to strengthen the debate about women's rights across the region. (U.S. Premiere)
Cast in India, directed by Natasha Raheja. Did you know that many of the manhole covers you step on every day in New York City were made in India? This short film offers a glimpse into the working lives of the men who forge the ubiquitous, unsung bits of daily life for New Yorkers. (U.S. Premiere)
Dr. Sarmast's Music School, directed by Polly Watkins and Beth Frey. Discover the amazing story of Afghanistan's first National Institute of Music, established eight years after the Taliban was toppled. Newfound creativity is nurtured with great care, but the school's 150 pupils persevere and-through music-find their lives transformed. (N.Y. Theatrical Premiere)
H2O MX, directed by Jose Cohen and Logan Hagerman. Mexico City's 22 million residents are faced with myriad geographical, economic, and political obstacles to a consistent water source. The film investigates the daily issues the megalopolis faces, from dangerous detergent buildup to Mezquital farmers living off wastewater irrigation to Chalco citizens fending off floods. (N.Y. Premiere)
Happiness, directed by Thomas Balmes. Happiness traces the arc of progress that began in 1999 in Bhutan when King Jigme Wangchuck approved the use of television and the internet throughout the largely undeveloped nation. Seen through the eyes of an 8-year-old monk, impatient with prayer and longing for his own TV in the last village to get electricity, the film conjures a nuanced and beautiful meditation on the bittersweet fruits of technological advancement. (N.Y. Premiere)
Hi-Ho Mistahey!, directed by Alanis Obomsawin. The film follows the remarkable story of Cree teenager Shannen Koostachin, who launched an educational reform campaign on her Attawapiskat reserve in northern Ontario, demanding rights for herself and all First Nation youngsters to a decent education. She had the imagination and courage to challenge the status quo in newspapers, at conferences, and on the steps of Parliament Hill. (N.Y. Premiere)
Invitation to Dance, directed by Christian von Tippelskirch and Simi Linton. At age 23, en route to Washington to protest the Vietnam War, Simi Linton suffered a car accident that left her wheelchair-bound. Disability, she soon discovered, is an unspoken source of tremendous discrimination, and most of her adult life has been dedicated to the quest for "equality, justice, and a place on the dance floor!"
Master and Divino (O Mestre e o Divino), directed by Tiago Campos. Adalberto is an eccentric German missionary with a PASSION for film. Divino is a young aboriginal filmmaker in the Brazilian village of Sangradouro, Mato Grosso, where Adalberto has lived for over 50 years. Both spend their days filming EVERYDAY life among the Xavante, and they can't help but form a congenial relationship of competition, criticism, and ultimately mutual respect. (N.Y. Premiere)
ThuleTuvalu, directed by Matthias von Gunten. This cautionary tale of climate change shows how two communities at opposite ends of the Earth-Thule in the extreme north of Greenland and Tuvalu in the Pacific Ocean-share a common and chilling bond. The ice in Thule retreats ever farther each year, feeding Tuvalu's perpetually rising sea levels. In both places, the impact is equally devastating, forcing dramatic shifts in the time-tested ways these people have adapted to each environment. (N.Y. Premiere)
Seeds of Time, directed by Sandy McLeod. This riveting film follows former Executive Director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust Cary Fowler as he races against time, from Rome to Russia, and finally, to a remote island just below the Arctic Circle, on a quest to create a sustainable framework for the global food system. Paralleling Fowler's efforts are those of activist Alejandro Argumedo, who advises "The Potato Park" in Peru, where indigenous farmers work to preserve over 1,500 native varieties of potato. (N.Y. Premiere)
Under the Palace Wall, directed by David MacDougall. This film explores life in Delwara, a village in Southern Rajasthan, India. MacDougall juxtaposes scenes from Delwara's glittering palace-which has been converted into a luxury hotel-with the local primary school nestled beneath its walls, to create an eloquent impressionistic portrait of the life of the village. (U.S. Premiere)
Where God Likes to Be, directed by Anna and Nicolas Hudak. Three young protagonists on the Blackfeet Indian reservation in Montana grapple with whether to leave for college or to stay behind with friends and family to struggle in poverty and marginalization. Their personal stories gradually coalesce to reveal a stereotype-shattering picture of the reservation as the home of a proud and openhearted group of people doing their best to survive in, and identify with, a country that has tried to strip them of their identity. (N.Y. Premiere)
Full film descriptions and trailers can be found online at public can purchase tickets and create a personalized film schedule at For festival highlights or daily updates, information can be found on Facebook at or Twitter using #MeadFilmFest. A festival trailer is available on and YouTube.

The Margaret Mead Filmmaker Awards

The Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award recognizes documentary filmmakers whose work displays artistic excellence and originality of technique while offering a new perspective on a culture or community remote from the majority of the festival audiences' experience. The seven contenders for this year's Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award, presenting U.S. premieres at the festival, are:

Angus Gibson and Jemma Jupp, for 28 Up South Africa
Simona Ghizzoni and Emanuela Zuccalà, for Just to Let You Know That I'm Alive
Sebastian Junger, for The Last Patrol
Tham N'guyen Thi, for Madame Phung's Last Journey
Lynette Wallworth, for Tender
Daniel Ziv, for Jalanan
Adam Zucker, for The Return
The 2014 Mead Award jury members include Sundance Institute's Tabitha Jackson; author and filmmaker Sadia Shepard; New York University professor and filmmaker Marco Williams; and John L. Jackson, Jr., anthropologist, filmmaker, and professor at the University of Pennsylvania. The Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award winner will be announced on Saturday, October 25, at the festival's award ceremony. The winning film will be shown in an encore presentation on Sunday evening.

An Emerging Visual Anthropologists Showcase on Saturday, October 25, presents three of the finest shorts to come out of this tradition. Sadia Halima's Laal Pari introduces us to a resilient and lively woman and activist in Bihar, India, who has challenged a patriarchal system. Living Quechua, by Christine Mladic, spotlights a Brooklyn Peruvian women's mission to connect speakers of her native Quechua and reveals New York City as a hotspot of linguistic diversity. Neither Here Nor There (Ni Aqui, Ni Alla) by Gabriella Bortolamedi, reveals the complexities and pressures of a young undocumented dreamer who not only makes it to Berkeley but also keeps her family together despite the pressures of living under the radar. A Q&A with the filmmakers will follow the screenings, moderated by Noelle Stout, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, and Pegi Vail, Graduate Program in Culture and Media, New York University.

Mead Events

Free with a 2014 Mead ticket stub, special performances and other events around the Museum complement the slate of films in the festival and serve to further illuminate the cultures celebrated at this year's Mead. Two art installations in the Museum's Grand Gallery will greet VISITORS during the course of the festival: Gapuwiyak Calling features a collection of cellphones loaded with phone-made content (art collage, GIF files, videos, and ringtone collections) gathered by Jennifer Deger and Miyarrka Media Collective, a media arts collective based in the remote Australian village of Gapuwiyak, and Hollow, directed by Elaine McMillion, but reflecting the collective authorship of a host of collaborators and contributors. Hollow is an interactive documentary, a participatory web-based documentary project that examines the future (and past) of rural America through the history of McDowell County, West Virginia, as told through the stories of more than thirty current residents. Participants are also invited to mingle with directors and other film lovers during Mead Mixers, new daily happy hours taking place in Café on One.

Mead Dialogues

The festival will feature a series of provocative presentations and interactive experiences, allowing audiences to engage in the conversation and contribute their own voices.

Dialogues include:

Northwest Coast: Past Forward
Saturday, October 25, 2 pm
Experience the U.S. premiere of Emmy-Award winning director Lisa Jackson's How A People Live, a moving film on how the art, dance traditions, and ceremonies of the Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw people have evolved and adapted since the Canadian government forcibly relocated them from their British Columbia homeland in 1964. Following the screening, cultural leaders from that region will host a conversation on the critical issues facing various Northwest Coast communities, past, present and future.
Culture Labs: Collaborations with Makers, Scholars, and Communities
Saturday, October 25, 3:30 pm
Festival participants will discuss their creative collaborations with diverse communities-from cellphone films in indigenous Australia to the reworking of archival footage from the Amazon, to small town efforts to run their own funerals-exploring the possibilities of a range of interactive media practices and research methods. Moderated by Faye Ginsberg, New York University, Center for Media, Culture and History.
Robert Gardner Tribute
Sunday, October 26, 12:30 pm
In honor of documentary filmmaker Robert Gardner, who died on June 21, 2014, the 2014 Margaret Mead Film Festival presents a tribute screening of Gardner's classic Dead Birds (1964).The film focuses on the Dani people of West Papua, New Guinea, and their elaborate system of ritual warfare and revenge. It will be followed by the N.Y. premiere of Gardner's last film, Dead Birds Re-encountered (2013),chronicling his 1989 return to visit the Dani he had met decades earlier. The screenings will be followed by a discussion of Gardner's work and influence with acclaimed photographer Susan Meiselas who traveled with and photographed Gardner on his return trip to New Guinea.

Festival Information and Tickets

All screenings take place at the American Museum of Natural History. Opening and closing night tickets are $15 ($13 Members/students/seniors). All other screenings are $12 ($10 Members/students/seniors). Shorter films may be grouped together in single programs. The Film Lover Pass (five programs of your choice, excluding opening-night reception) is $50. One Day Pass(three films of your choice valid for only Saturday and Sunday) is $30. The Student Pass (three programs of your choice, excluding the opening-night reception) is $25.Tickets can be purchased by phone at 212-769-5200, online at, or at any of the Museum's admission desks. For more information, the public should call 212-769-5305 or visit


The Margaret Mead Film Festival is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

The American Museum of Natural History gratefully acknowledges HBO, Inc. for its generous support of the Mead Films and cultural programming for New York City Public High Schools.

Additional support provided by the Australian Consulate-General and the Italian Cultural Institute. Support also provided by the Consulate General of Denmark, the Consulate General of Peru, the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Finnish Film Foundation, and the Polish Cultural Institute.

American Museum of Natural History (
The American Museum of Natural History, founded in 1869, is one of the world's preeminent scientific, educational, and cultural institutions. The Museum encompasses 45 permanent EXHIBITION halls, including the Rose Center for Earth and Space and the Hayden Planetarium, as well as galleries for temporary exhibitions. It is home to the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial, New York State's official memorial to its 33rd governor and the nation's 26th president, and a tribute to Roosevelt's enduring legacy of conservation. The Museum's five active research divisions and three cross-disciplinary centers support approximately 200 scientists, whose work draws on a world-class permanent collection of more than 32 million specimens and artifacts, as well as specialized collections for frozen tissue and genomic and astrophysical data, and one of the largest natural history libraries in the world. Through its Richard Gilder Graduate School, it is the only American museum authorized to grant the Ph.D. degree. In 2012, the Museum began offering a pilot Master of Arts in Teaching program with a specialization in Earth science. Approximately five million VISITORS from around the world came to the Museum last year, and its exhibitions and Space Shows can be seen in venues on five continents. The Museum's website, broader digital dissemination, and collection of apps for mobile devices extend its collections, exhibitions, and educational programs to millions more beyond its walls. for more information.

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