Films Explore Women's Rights, Religion, Drugs

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), January 28, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Films Explore Women's Rights, Religion, Drugs

Byline: Lewis Taylor The Register-Guard

The idea that a documentary can be both educational and entertaining seems to go without saying, but nonfictional films haven't always been given their proper due.

Especially among academics.

Between the years of 1936 and 1938, the late New York cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead helped chart new territory by using film to document her field work in Bali. She made several movies about Balinese dance and later produced films on cross-cultural child rearing and other subjects.

Years later, on her 75th birthday, Mead was honored for her pioneering commitment. The American Museum of Natural History in New York City launched a documentary film festival and named it after her. The event continues today and has since branched out into a traveling festival. It is known as the longest-running showcase for international documentaries.

Now in its 31st year, the Margarat Mead Film Festival brings anthropological films of all stripes to venues across the country. It comes to the University of Oregon in February with three different programs, offering films on everything from bride kidnapping to the links between Rastafarianism and Judaism.

"Film is just a different medium and a different way of learning (than books)," said Sarah McClure, assistant director of public programs for the UO's Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the presenting sponsor of the event. "There's also that element of seeing a film in a group and being able to discuss it."

McClure helped select the films from a short list of different programs, choosing those she felt would appeal most to both the campus and the community. She also looked at films that offered tie-ins with the university's academic departments. The festival is co-sponsored by the UO departments of romance languages, English, anthropology and humanities.

The program selection includes a Feb. 9 screening "Al Otro Lado," a movie about an aspiring composer from the drug capital of Mexico. The film explores drug smuggling, illegal immigration and "corrido" music.

On Feb. 16, the movie "Awake Zion" hits the screen, exploring some of the ties between Rastafarians and Jews.

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