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Mead Film Fest at Little Theatre Saturday

April 6, 2009

KALAMAZOO--The Margaret Mead Traveling Film Festival will be at Western Michigan University, with five films screening Saturday, April 11, in the Little Theatre.

All shows are open to the public free of charge, presented for the third consecutive year by the WMU Anthropology Student Union. Seating is limited.

Margaret Mead Traveling Film Festival
Saturday, April 11

  • 3 p.m. "Peace with Seals" (2007) 58 min.
    Monk seal specialist Emanuele Coppola and director Miloslav Novak are on the hunt for any trace of a real, live Mediterranean monk seal. Conversations with marine biologists, philosophers, and beach-goers who have supplanted the seals on Mediterranean shores, lead them to believe that the only monk seals left are those preserved in archival footage. Presented as a wistful documentary fable, the film might well stand as a warning sign for more ominous things to come.
  • 4:15 p.m. "Umbrella" (2007) 93 min.
    In a land where farming has for millennia been the key means of subsistence, director Du Haibin captures changing lives of peasant farmers in China since the 1978 economic reforms instituted by Deng Xiaoping. In five different regions we encounter the varied faces of post-economic reform China, scrambling for livelihoods and respect in the rush toward modernization. We meet factory piece-workers earning barely enough to survive, young farmers-turned-soldiers who claim to withstand army life better than their urban counterparts, a glut of college graduates facing a ferocious job market, merchants who have lost all ties to the land in the so-called "World's Largest Small Commodity Market," and a farming community where all young men have left for work in cities, leaving only children, women and the elderly.
  • 6 p.m. "River of No Return" (2008) 52 min.
    In a remote community in Australia's Northern Territory, Frances grew up speaking 10 different languages. English is her 11th. As a young girl Frances dreamed of being a movie star, but was told it was ridiculous for a Yolngu girl to have such ambitious fantasies. As a 45 year-old grandmother of six living in dire poverty, she is fortuitously cast in the leading role in the film "Ten Canoes," and her desire to leave home and study acting in Queensland confronts her desire to help raise her family in her own culture. Frances must navigate two oppositional worlds, the ancient life of her people, the Yolngu, and the modern world of balanda, or white culture.
  • 7 p.m. "Bomb Harvest" (2007) 88 min.
    In violation of the Geneva Convention, from 1964 to 1973, the United States conducted 580,000 airstrikes over Laos, then occupied as a North Vietnamese supply route to South Vietnam. U.S. B-52s dropped 2 million tons of bombs, one planeload every eight minutes, day and night, for nine years. That's over half a ton of bombs for every man, woman and child in Laos. In a country of less than 7 million people, an estimated 4,847 civilians have been killed since the end of the war, about half of them children. Filmmakers follow an ordnance disposal technician as he trains young Laotians to become certified bomb technicians, learning to recognize and neutralize the roughly 84 million unexploded ordnance still lying in wait.
  • 8:45 p.m. "Today the Hawk Takes One Chick" (2008) 72 min.
    The Lubombo region of Swaziland in southern Africa suffers from the world's highest prevalence of HIV--40 percent of the population--and a life expectancy that has dropped to 32 years. A generation of parents has died, leaving the children in the care of their grandparents. The gentle beauty of the rural landscape and way of life, its humor, joy, and deeply held spiritual beliefs, are in stark contrast with the urgency of the grandmothers' everyday experiences: families living off World Food Program rations, a missing generation of productive young adults, children surviving without parents.

Begun in 1977, the Margaret Mead Film Festival is the longest-running annual showcase for international documentary films in the United States. The film topics always encompass a broad spectrum, from indigenous community media to experimental non-fiction.

The traveling festival comes direct from the Museum of Natural History in New York City, where the main festival takes place each year. It is celebrated for its diverse and exceptional films, which address some of the most engaging and provocative issues of our time.

The Little Theatre is located at the corner of Oakland Drive and Oliver Lane on WMU's East Campus. Free off-street parking is available behind the theatre.


For more information, contact wmuasu@gmail.com, or call the Little Theatre movie line at (269) 387-8221.

Media contact: Thom Myers, (269) 387-8400, thom.myers@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400