By Nancy Novick
Documentary fans rejoice! The Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History is back for the 38th year in a row with a selection of films that depict cultural experiences in 30 different countries. The festival, named for the famous anthropologist, starts on Thursday and continues through Sunday evening.
Some anticipated highlights include:
- The U.S. premiere of The Last Patrol directed by Sebastian Junger, a war journalist and author of The Perfect Storm, which follows three comrades-in-arms from Afghanistan as they walk along the railroad tracks from Washington D.C. to Pennsylvania, discussing the transition from combat to civilian life. Mr. Junger will attend. (This film will air on HBO in early November.)
- 28 Up South Africa, a film based on the British series by Michael Apted. This depiction of young people whose early experiences were shaped by apartheid and then reached maturity in a post-apartheid society is sure to give a human face to the complex arc of this nation’s dramatic political transformation. Directors Angus Gibson and Jemma Jupp will attend.
- Tender, which tells the story of community members in Port Kembla, Australia, who developed a not-for-profit funeral service that honors the dead and their family members with personal touches including hand-picked flowers and hand-painted coffins. Director Lynette Wallworth will attend.
- Invitation to Dance, a film about activist/writer/upper West Side resident Simi Linton, who, after suffering a car accident, became involved in the emerging U.S. disability rights movement of the 1970s. She continues to work in this field, with a special focus on making dance more inclusive. Directors Ms. Linton and Christian von Tippelskirch will attend.
- Walking Under Water, a hybrid of fantasy, fiction and fact introduces viewers to the compression diver, Alexan, and his 10-year-old nephew, who are members of a Moro indigenous ethnic group—the Badjao people—of Maritime Southeast Asia. The Badjaos’ way of life, which is based on subsistence fishing, is gradually disappearing. The producer of this film will attend.
- Festival organizers will bestow the Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award on Sunday night, an honor that recognizes the “feature documentary [that] 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.” An encore presentation of the winning film will be shown at that time. Ticket holders also have access to festival extras including Gapuwiyak Calling, a collection of phone cell videos curated by Miyarrka Media, a media-arts collective in the remote community of Anhem Land Region of Australia; the Mead Mixers, refreshments and conversation with filmmakers; and more.
For a complete schedule of the Margaret Mead Film Festival and information on purchasing tickets, go to amnh.org/mead.