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 13 contenders for this year’s Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award, all presenting U.S. premieres at the festival, are:
- Vincent Carelli and Wewito Piyãko, directors, Antonio y Piti
Thirty years ago, a rubber company enslaved a group of Asháninka people, manipulating them into tapping the trees in the lush borderland between Peru and Brazil. The company was expelled by a coalition of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, led by one mixed-race couple. Now the adult children of this marriage combat political corruption and ongoing environmental disaster.
- Laura Coppens, director, Taste of Hope
When a Marseilles-based tea processing plant was threatened with closure in 2010, workers occupied the factory and won an epic struggle against the transnational food giant Unilever. Their 1,336-day political action became a symbol for labor activists in France and around the world. Encounter the day-to-day reality of a cooperative business trying to stay afloat in a corporate marketplace.
- Erica Glynn, director, She Who Must be Loved
Freda Glynn is an Indigenous Australian media mogul and activist. Her daughter, filmmaker Erica Glynn, begins a quest to understand Freda’s illustrious career. But her mother takes the story in an unexpected direction—unraveling the mystery of Freda’s grandmother’s death. Part detective story, part observational documentary, this extraordinary intergenerational portrait reveals her foundational role in creating a space for Aboriginal media in Australia.
- Gavin Guerra, director, Let the People Decide
“Stealing elections” and “illegal voting” can sound like words meant to whip voters into a frenzy. To the mid-20th century activists who lived the brutal history of voter intimidation and literacy tests, the current voter ID debate is familiar. Now, the legal battle over voting rights in North Carolina puts a new generation of activists in all-too-familiar territory—fighting laws they believe were specifically enacted to intimidate and disenfranchise African Americans at the polls.
- Mari Gulbiani, director, Before Father Gets Back (Sanam mama dabrundeba)
Iman and Eva, two daughters of jihadists, reveal the daily lives of the families of ISIS fighters. As they await their fathers’ return, their mothers, elders, and community members are confounded by the growing specter of radicalism in their remote, mountainous village. Partially shot by the girls themselves, this film offers a glimpse into the growing number of Georgians radicalized by ISIS.
- Tasha Hubbard, director, nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up
In August 2016, a farmer in rural Saskatchewan shot Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Cree youth. The acquittal of his killer by an all-white jury thrust the Boushie family—and the struggle to end violence against First Nations people—into the headlines. While their story has been amplified by their activism, the family continues to seek justice. This screening celebrates 20 years of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival with a special appearance by artistic director Jason Ryle.
- Hye-Ryoung Park, director, The Wandering Chef
Jiho Im is a world-class chef who wanders the mountainous Korean peninsula on foot for unorthodox ingredients—acorns, weeds, and moss. Along the way, he cooks meals and develops deep relationships with the elders he meets. When one of his closest friends dies, he faces the challenge of his lifetime: cooking a feast in her honor for her family.
- Sidse Torstholm Larsen and Sturla Pilsko, directors, Winter’s Yearning
The promise of a new smelting plant by the American aluminum company Alcoa once stoked hope for new jobs and opportunities for the youth of Maniitsoq, a whaling village in coastal Greenland. However, in the decade since Alcoa’s announcement, no factory has materialized. Facing economic uncertainty, the Maniitsoq community discovers alternative financial opportunities in unexpected ways.
- Floor van der Meulen, director, The Last Male on Earth
Sudan was the last male rhinoceros of his species and a tourist sensation in Kenya. Through interviews with visitors to the Ol Pejeta Conservancy, his caretakers, and the scientists who are preserving his genetic information, discover what Sudan’s story reveals about why we should care about biodiversity conservation.
- Isa Willinger, director, Hi, AI
Can humanoid robots be our friends? Scientists and tech visionaries believe that artificially intelligent robots will become an integral part of everyday life. AI robots are already serving the roles of pets, personal organizers, and confidantes. See how early adopters are connecting with these complex AIs as companions.
- Adrian Russell Wills, director, Black Divaz
A drag competition brings Crystal Love, Nova Gina, Jo Jo, Josie Baker, Shaniqua, and Isla Fukyah to Darwin, Australia, to compete for the title of Miss First Nation. Dressed in extravagant outfits and painted with vibrant makeup, the contestants tell their varied stories of growing up LGBTQI and Indigenous.
- Aviva Ziegler, director, Wandering Souls
Can art create a sense of closure for a wounded nation? Forty years after the brutal Khmer Rouge reign and Cambodian genocide, an international group of artists creates a production of film and Bangsokol music to properly mourn those who died. The production is threatened by clashing egos and a limited budget, but the stakes are too high to let the project fail.
- Sam Zubrycki, director, Miguelito – Canto A Borinquen
What happened to Miguelito? After the 11-year-old Puerto Rican salsero played Madison Square Garden in 1972, he and his whole family disappeared from New York City. Now, legendary producer Harvey Averne is anxious to rediscover both Miguelito and the sound of the early 70s New York salsa scene. Experience the lively world of Puerto Rican music as the mystery of an 11-year-old salsero’s disappearance unfolds.
The 2019 Mead Award jury members include the director, producer, and cinematographer Juliane Dressner; Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer and founder of Motto Pictures Julie Goldman; enrolled member of the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma Christina D. King, whose work spans broadcast news, commercials, documentary and fiction feature films, and television; Kamal Sinclair, a senior consultant for Sundance Institute’s Future of Culture Initiative; and J.P. Sniadecki, an artist and anthropologist whose films are in the permanent collections of MoMA and the SFMOMA. The 2019 winner will be announced on Sunday, October 20, at the festival’s Award Ceremony, and the winning film will be shown in an encore presentation that night.
Emerging Visual Anthropologists Showcase
An Emerging Visual Anthropologists Showcase on Saturday, October 19, presents five of the finest shorts to come out of the field of visual anthropology this year.
- Alexis Ligon’s Living with Grace profiles Grace, a racer and Ironman competitor, as she pushes back against cancer, exploring the kind of medicine that exercise can provide.
- Mong Kok First Aid by Mavis Siu examines the photos, fluorescent vests, and gas masks that are shared like precious family heirlooms alongside harrowing stories of Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement.
- Teresa Martinez-Chavez’s Refusing to Let Go (Duxh Benigulun) shows how weaving lessons spark an elderly woman’s memory while passing down Zapotec cultural legacy.
- Surface Layer by Ryan Salch reveals how eczema affects a person psychologically and physically through this autobiographical portrait.
- Eliana Ritts’s Tea for Taiwan examines how bubble tea has become a surprising tool for Taiwanese-American activists in New York City
Following the screenings, a Q&A with the filmmakers and anthropologists will be moderated by Faye Ginsburgand
Pegi Vail, both of the New York University Center for Media, Culture and History, Department of Anthropology.
The festival will feature a series of provocative presentations and interactive experiences, allowing audiences to engage in the conversation and contribute their own voices.
- Collectively in Conversation
Sunday, October 20, 5 pm
Collectively highlights groundbreaking community-based media collectives. Join the filmmakers and leaders of Appalshop, Kartemquin, and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) for a lively conversation about their work, their challenges, and how they are transforming nonfiction storytelling today.
- The New York Times Presents “The Weekly”
Sunday, October 20, 5 pm
Rich storytelling from journalists around the world power The New York Times’ new documentary series, “The Weekly.” Each episode presents a deep dive into an issue that reporters work on for months, or even years, at a time. At this presentation, view the premiere of the October 20 episode and hear from the journalists on the front lines of these stories.
- The Power of First Nations Filmmaking: A Tribute to Barb Cranmer
Friday, October 18, 3:30 pm
How can film empower a community and effect change? Join us for a screening of groundbreaking footage from First Nations leader and filmmaking pioneer Barb Cranmer (‘Namgis), followed by a conversation about her profound impact on Indigenous storytelling and the power of film as an act of resistance. Celebrate Cranmer’s work and explore her legacy, juxtaposed with contemporary Indigenous filmmakers who continue to use film as a medium for activism.
- Mead Mixers
Friday–Sunday, October 18–20
Continue the conversation! With refreshments in hand, meet filmmakers, and share your Mead experiences with other festivalgoers daily in Café on One or Café on 4.
Festival Information and Tickets
All screenings take place at the American Museum of Natural History. Opening night film and special screening tickets are $15 ($13 Members/students/seniors). All other screenings are $12 ($10 Members/students/seniors).
Film Lover Pass (five programs of your choice, excluding the opening-night film and reception and special screenings) is $50 ($45 Members).
One-Day Pass (three films of your choice valid for one day, Saturday or Sunday, excluding the opening-night film and reception and special screenings) is $30 ($27 Members).
Student Pass (three programs of your choice, excluding the opening-night film and reception and special screenings) is $24.Personalized film schedules can be created at mead2019.sched.com.
Tickets can be purchased by phone at 212-769-5200, online at amnh.org/mead, or during Museum hours at the Advance Group Sales desk in the Theodore Roosevelt Rotunda (Central Park West at 79th Street entrance) and at the Rose Center for Earth and Space (81st Street entrance). During the festival, tickets may be purchased up to one hour prior to showtime at any ticket counter.
For more information, visit amnh.org/mead or call 212-769-5305.
The Margaret Mead Film Festival is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.
The Margaret Mead Film Festival is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Special support provided by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Support for the Margaret Mead Film Festival is provided, in part, by the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc. and the family of Frederick H. Leonhardt.
Additional support is also provided by HBO.
Support also provided by
- Mexican Cultural Institute New York
- Eye International
- Australian Consulate General New York
- Dutch Culture USA
- Consulate General of Israel in New York
- Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany New York
- Consulate General of Canada in New York
- Consulate General of Switzerland in New York