The 2015 edition of the Margaret Mead Film Festival once again offers a window into the complexity of the peoples and cultures in the Latin American region. Between October 22 and 25, ten works from countries all throughout the region will be screened as part of the festival at the American Museum of Natural History.
Founded in honor of anthropologist Margaret Mead, this year’s edition of the festival explores thresholds and boundaries— ranging from lyrical explorations to political exposés, from authorial to community indigenous productions, this year’s works reflect in part the diversity of the region.
Offering a look from Mexico to the world, Balance and Resistance / Bering. Equilibrio y Resistencia is perhaps unusual exploration for Mexican photographer Lourdes Grobet, known mostly for her portrayal of the lucha libre tradition. In this work, she takes a close look at a small Inuit community that has traversed the US / Russian border for years.
Fernando Llanos’ Matria (pictured above left) on the other hand, offers a look within one of Mexico’s most emblematic figures: that of the charros, or horseman. Combining personal story with historical narrative, the director explores the figure of his grandfather, a distinguished charro. The film was the winner of the Best Documentary Award at the Morelia Film Festival. In a look at the limits between traditional and alternative medicine, Juanita by Ximena Amezcua follows the everyday life of a practitioner of Mayan traditional medicine.
Central America arrives to the festival charged with a political look. The short documentary El Cacao exposes the dark side of Latin American chocolate production. Marcela Zamora’s El cuarto de los huesos / The Room of Bones (pictured right) follows a group of forensic anthropologists unearthing the remains of the Salvadorian desaparecidos or missing persons.
Venezuela is present in the festival through a depiction of its remote island Cubagua, with a population of 51. In Flor de la Mar, Jorge Thielen Armand traces the attempts of the Venezuelan government to revitalize this historic island, home of the ruins of the first European city in the Americas.
Two works peer into Peruvian Indigenous groups. Earth’s Children / Hijos de la Tierra is a production of a Kechwa-Lamista native community in Peru, following the daily lives of their youngest members, as part of the Indigenous Amazonian Video Project. Icaros looks at the ancestral uses of ayahuasca, a traditional psychoactive drug by, among others, the Shipibo indigenous people.
From the Southern Cone comes Juan Álvarez’s Avant, a work that narrates how renowned ballet dancer Julio Bocca revived the Uruguayan National Ballet Company. After a twenty-year observation by director Aldo Garay, El hombre nuevo / The New Man (pictured left) follows Stephania, a Nicaraguan-born transgender woman living in Uruguay whose life has been shaped by poverty, war, and communist theory, as well as sexual politics. The film was awarded the Teddy Award at the last edition of the Berlin Film Festival.