The Margaret Mead Film Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary with a blockbuster schedule of global films, filmmakers, artists and anthropologists all focused on our cultural similarities.
Starting this week, the festival at the American Museum of Natural History honors the legacy of anthropologist Margaret Mead, whose groundbreaking approach revealed how our own histories, values, and points of view frame our encounters with other cultures and communities.
This Margaret Mead Film Festival, is Thursday, Oct. 13 to Sunday, Oct. 16. Get tickets now from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) with no surcharge.
Among the festival’s selection of films this year are:
Under the Clouds (Das Nuvens Pra Braxio), directed by Marco Antonio Gonçalves (U.S. Premiere)
Carolina Maria de Jesus spent her life in a notorious favela (slum) in São Paolo. Her house was made of plywood, cans, and cardboard, and she supported her family by collecting and reselling paper. Her diary documenting her difficult and violent daily life was published as Quarto de Despejo and became a best seller in the 1960s. Meet five women in the Complexo da Maré slum in Rio de Janeiro, who draw parallels and contrasts between their experiences and Carolina’s. These women provide an invigorating depiction of life in the favela, subverting the usual themes of violence and male dominance.
Shooting Ourselves, directed by Christine Cynn (New York Premiere)
Christine Cynn, co-director of the Academy Award-nominated documentary The Act of Killing, returns with a scathing examination of the arms trade, told through the personal stories of victims, soldiers, manufacturers, and activists from around the world. The conversation surrounding the weapons industry is too often relegated to the political and economic sphere—here, we meet real people and see their interactions with weapons. The subjects turn the cameras on one another and themselves, engaging important questions about war, politics, and the many unique human experiences that are deeply affected by a world in conflict.
Train to Adulthood, directed by Klára Trencsényi (New York Premiere)
In 1948, the Communist leaders of Hungary built a narrow-gauge railway to be run entirely by a youth volunteer corps. This Children’s Railway still operates today, carrying hundreds of thousands of passengers each year. The film follows the stories of Hungarian teens Viktor, Carkme, and Gergö as they coordinate rail signals, sing train songs, and seek refuge from the economic and political instability around them. The world of the Children’s Railway is festive, well-ordered, and nostalgic, while the broader Hungarian landscape feels uncertain and chaotic. The train becomes a metaphor for current day Hungary, longing for the past while barreling toward the future.
Yallah! Underground, directed by Farid Eslam (New York Premiere)
Through exuberant performances and heartfelt interviews, this film goes deep into the world of alternative Arab music before and during the upheavals of the Arab Spring. Singers, rockers, rappers, and music producers from Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine grapple with conditions out of step with the freedom they seek—to make music in their own way without fear of repression by political or religious authorities. They seem driven less by anger than longing, while also aware of the power of music to transform. As one Ramallah musician puts it, “A bullet would make big sound, a song would make bigger, so I think it’s just switching from a gun to a guitar but the aim is the same.”
Tickets are $15 opening- and closing-night screenings ($12 for Members, seniors, and students); $12 all other screenings ($10 for Members, seniors, and students)
Tickets can be purchased by phone at 212-769-5200, online at amnh.org/mead, or at any of the American Museum of Natural History admission desks.
The Margaret Mead Film Festival is proudly produced by the American Museum of Natural History.