Director Aleksandra Maciuszek was the recipient of the Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award for her Cuban documentary film Casa Blanca at the 40th edition of the Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
The Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award recognizes documentary filmmakers who embody the spirit, energy, and innovation demonstrated by the anthropologist in her research, fieldwork, films, and writings. The award is given to a filmmaker whose feature documentary 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.
This year's jury was composed by director and cinematographer Kirsten Johnson, cultural anthropologist Carolyn Rouse, film programmer Basil Tsiokos, anthropologist Christine Walley, and Cinema Tropical's executive director Carlos A. Gutiérrez. The jury gave a Special Mention to American filmmaker Jessie Deeter for her film A Revolution in Four Seasons.
Casa Blanca, a Cuban-Mexican-Polish coproduction follows Nelsa and her son Vladimir, who live in bustling multifamily home In a small port town in Cuba. Vladimir has Down syndrome and requires the full attention and care of his mother, a patient, elderly head of the household. But when she falls ill, Vladimir—a beloved member in his community who is gregarious and easily gets into trouble—is thrust into a new role.
Forced to assume adult responsibilities for the first time and make his own way without his mother’s guidance and support, he struggles with the challenges and ultimately finds fulfillment in everyday chores and caretaking. A poignant coming-of-age film and an intimate family drama, Casa Blanca follows the long and universal arc of the mother-son relationship as it grows and changes.
The 40th anniversary edition of the Margaret Mead Film Festival took place October 13-16 in New York City.