The American Museum of Natural History will host the Margaret Mead Film Festival from October 23-26 and will open with the U.S. premiere of Sebastian Junger’s war-centric documentary “Last Patrol.” The film is Junger’s follow-up to “Restrepo” (co-directed by the late Tim Hetherington) which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2010. Warwick Thornton’s “Darkside,” the appropriately seasonal documentary on indigenous Australian ghost stories, will act as the festival’s closing night feature.
This year’s festival will host 14 U.S. premieres–read up on the additional screenings with descriptions from the festival below:
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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!”
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
For more information and to purchase tickets, check out the festival’s website.