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JULY

--Japan Cuts: Festival of New Japanese Films
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AUGUST

--ACE Film Festival
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NOVEMBER

--African Diaspora Film Festival
--Avignon New York Film Festival
--Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival
-- International Dog Film Festival
--Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival
--Native American Film + Video Festival
--NY International Independent Film and Video Festival
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JANUARY

--Explorers Club Documentary Film Festival
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FEBRUARY

--NY Arab and South Asian Film Festival
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MARCH

--Craic Film Fleadh
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APRIL

--Brooklyn Underground Film Festival
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MAY

--Bicycle Film Festival
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--Be Film / Tribeca Underground Film Festival

ONGOING --Animation Block
--Asbury Shorts of New York
--Caroline's Funny Film Shorts
--First Sundays Comedy Film Festival
--NewFilmmakers

NYC Film Festivals

Margaret Mead Festival Returns for 30th Year

When asked about the invention of television, anthropologist Margaret Mead said, "For the first time, the young are seeing history made before it is censored by their elders." In 2006, the 30th annual Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival (opening today at the American Museum of Natural History) aims to capture history as it occurs and expose new audiences to the power of the documentary form as a way of examining and questioning the modern world.

As the longest-running showcase for international documentaries in the United States, the festival honors the work of the renowned anthropologist Mead, whose use of film in her fieldwork influenced the documentary form. Mead's keen eye towards the potential of "visual anthropology" -- with her own documentaries examining Balinese dance (Trance and Dance in Bali, Karba's First Years) and child rearing (Bathing Babies in Three Cultures) helped pioneer the genre -- continues to influence the festival that bears her name, whose 32 films this year cover everything from three clergymen in China's Da Liangshan Mountains (The Bimo Records) to the debate over evolution (Flock of Dodos) to a program examining varying degrees of international pop/hip-hop culture (Roots, Bling: Consequences and Repercussions, and Sneakers).

"The work showcased is all about presenting films/video that are culturally sensitive and engaging the public in broad discussion about social justice, environmental and political issues," said festival co-director Elaine Charnov. "There has been a real effort to let individuals and communities tell their own stories."

Works in progress will also be featured on the festival's opening and closing nights, beginning with Immy Humes' Doc -- a portrait of the director's father, an activist and creative visionary from the mid-20th century -- and closing with Jonathan Demme's Right to Return/Pioneers, a year-long record of the "human ecology" of New Orleans. Along with a screening of Spike Lee's recent documentary When the Levees Broke, the latter film continues a theme adopted during 2005's festival: Though it arrived too soon after Katrina to generate new film material, the organizers showed clips from films about New Orleans communities and culture, donating proceeds to the New Orleans Musicians Clinic. "Showing the piece as a work in progress allows for more of the back story and a conversation about the process with the filmmakers," said festival co-director Kathy Brew, who will welcome Demme for a discussion of his new film. "This allows for a more personal and intimate screening experience, for both the filmmakers and audiences."

This year's festival also spotlights the work of Bonnie Sherr Klein, noted for her groundbreaking films challenging journalistic objectivity and pushing the boundaries of American documentaries. Her new film, Shameless: The Art of Disability, her first in 17 years since a stroke left her paraplegic and without speech for several years, will debut at this year's festival. The festival is also screening the director's 1981 feature Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography (pictured above); Sherr Klein will be present for discussions following both films.

"The nature of documentary film is to expose people to worlds and ideas that they may not have access to otherwise," Brew said. "So the reactions are as varied as the films. ... We are looking for artistic excellence -- for interesting, innovative, compelling stories that address important issues of the day -- and work that will elicit strong conversations." -- Jessica Freeman-Slade

The Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival runs November 8-12 at the Museum of Natural History. For additional information, including ticket sales and a full schedule of the festival's screenings, visit the museum's Web site.

Posted at November 8, 2006 10:05 AM

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