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Mead Traveling Film and Video Festival comes to Bloomington

The American Museum of Natural History's Margaret Mead Traveling Film and Video Festival, the premiere showcase for independent cultural documentaries in the United States, will be rolling in Bloomington from Feb. 23 through March 4.

Margaret Mead Film

This image was taken from the film "Awake Zion," which will be shown in Bloomington during the Margaret Mead Film Festival.

Print-Quality Photo

Each year, titles are selected from the annual Mead Festival in New York to travel to selected venues, bringing innovative non-fiction work to communities across the U.S. The films are grouped by program themes, and encompass a broad spectrum of work from indigenous community media to experimental nonfiction (see below for dates, times and descriptions). Bloomington will be the only city in Indiana hosting the festival this year. The festival was last held in Bloomington in 2005.

"This is a rare opportunity to see the films, grouped by themes," said Judy Kirk, assistant director of the Indiana University Mathers Museum. "For some people, this may be the only opportunity they have to see them."

The festival is named in honor of anthropologist Margaret Mead, who worked in the American Museum of Natural History's anthropology department from 1926 until her death in 1978. Mead was a pioneer in the field of cultural anthropology, and one of the first anthropologists to recognize the significance of using film in fieldwork. The festival maintains a commitment to presenting works on cross-cultural issues, and has been devoted to realizing Mead's goal of informing audiences about similarities and differences in cultural practices.

"The Mead Festival is the premier showcase for international documentaries in the United States, and it really does encompass a broad spectrum of work that ranges from indigenous community media to experimental works as well," Kirk said. "These works are usually seen as outstanding, diverse and challenging subjects and it's really important to have access to this range of issues and perspectives in our community."

Several university departments are coming together to sponsor the film series in Bloomington and present it free to the university and community. In addition, two IU Bloomington faculty members will give informal presentations after two film viewings.

John McDowell, professor of folklore, will engage attendees in the themes of the film Al Otro Lado after the showing. Judah Cohen, professor of folklore, will address themes in the film Awake Zion, after the audience has viewed it.

Margaret Mead Film

This photo was taken from the film "Ryan," by Chris Landreth, which will be shown at the Mead Film Festival in Bloomington.

Sponsoring organizations include the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, the Center for the Study of Global Change, the Department of Anthropology, the Department of Communication and Culture, the Department of Gender Studies, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center, the International Studies Program, the La Casa Cultural Center, the Latino Studies Program, the Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program, and the Russian & East European Institute.

All films will be shown at the Glenn Black Laboratory of Archaeology auditorium, on the corner of 9th Street and Fess Avenue, in Bloomington. For more information, please contact the Mathers Museum of World Cultures at, or phone 812-855-6873.

Film Listings and Descriptions

Theme: "Music and Borderlands" -- Feb. 23, 7 p.m.

Al Otro Lado by Natalia Almada (2005, 70 minutes, Mexico/U.S.)
An aspiring corrido composer from the drug capital of Mexico faces two choices to better his life: traffic drugs or cross the border illegally into the United States.

Theme: "Women's Rights" -- Feb. 24, 2 p.m.

Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan, by Petr Lom (2004, 51 minutes Kyrgyzstan)
Arranged marriages are a traditional custom in many societies. In rural Kyrgyzstan, bride kidnapping is a common practice that continues despite its illegal status. This film offers unprecedented access to four women's stories, documenting their abductions in harrowing detail -- from their tearful protests to their physical restraint, to the tense negotiations between the respective families.

Children of the Decree, by Florin Iepan (2004, 52 minutes, Romania)
By the mid-1960s, the feminist movement in the West was advancing women's reproductive rights, but in Romania under the Ceausescu regime, women's reproductive rights were being managed by the state. This film interweaves state propaganda, documentary, and feature films with the candid testimony of public figures, gynecologists and back-street abortionists to highlight the devastating consequences for women and their families.

Theme: Unexpected Cultural Ties -- Feb. 25, 2 p.m.

Awake Zion, by Monica Haim (2005, 60 minutes, Jamaica/Israel/U.S.)
Have you ever wondered why Jews and Rastafarians share the same Star of David and references to Zion? This film explores unexpected cultural convergences through music, interviews, history and performance, and investigates the symbols, laws, culture and themes shared by two communities that might appear to be on opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum.

Theme: Reconsidered Identities -- March 2, 7 p.m.

Ryan, by Chris Landreth (2004, 14 minutes, Canada)
Thirty years ago, at the National Film Board of Canada, famed animator Ryan Larkin produced some of the most influential animated films of his time. But today, Ryan lives on welfare and panhandles for spare change in downtown Montreal. How could such an artistic genius end up in this situation?

Nalini by Day, Nancy by Night, by Sonali Gulati (2005, 26 minutes, India/U.S.)
This experimental documentary looks at the outsourcing of American jobs to India, told from the perspective of an Indian immigrant living in the U.S.

Phantom Limb, by Jay Rosenblatt. (2005, 28 minutes, U.S.)
Experimental filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt uses the phenomenon of "phantom limb syndrome" as a metaphor to explore his feelings about the death of his younger brother 40 years ago.

Theme: Housing in America -- March 3, 2 p.m.

Home, by Jeffrey M. Togman (2005, 78 minutes, U.S.)
Sheree Farmer, a single mother of six living in a struggling neighborhood in Newark, faces the challenges of buying her first home with the help of a fashion industry executive turned social worker. Her story, as she attempts to achieve the American dream, is an intimate and touching commentary on race, class and the future of America's cities.

Theme: Love in War--March 4, 2 p.m.

Land Mines: A Love Story, by Dennis O'Rourke, 2004, 73 minutes, Afghanistan)
This film about Afghanistan, land mines, survival and love chronicles the story of Habiba and Shah, two land-mine victims living together in Kabul and struggling to make ends meet