Honoring Faye Ginsburg


In 1977, punk rock was battling the California sound, New York City was crawling out of bankruptcy, Annie Hall and Star Wars were released, activist Steve Biko was killed in South Africa, and Deng Xiaoping was about to be restored to power in China. And Barnard undergraduate Faye Ginsburg volunteered at the first Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History.

A symbiosis of sorts developed—the Mead would not be what it is today without Faye, and Faye would not be who she is had she not walked into that unique gathering. She describes those first years as “wild territory” for creating a new community of anthropologists and social activists. 

Faye, the David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology at New York University and the founder and director of the NYU Center for Media, Culture and History, embodies the theme of “Re:Frame” that informs this year’s festival. She is dedicated to the continued challenge of documenting the human experience. She is that rare combination, a sturdy intellectual and an ever-curious student of the world whose questions inspire inquiry from a foundation of theory that always leads us to new territory.

Through 40 festivals, Faye has grown from volunteer to essential partner in the Mead. She views all of our screening contenders, recruits colleagues, dignitaries, artists, and filmmakers from around the world, and is a luminous presence throughout the festival screenings and discussions. 

We choose to honor Faye Ginsburg this year because of her generous and extensive contributions to making the Mead a destination for all people working and interested in other cultural worlds. With Faye’s wisdom and energy,we strive for a moment each year, in her words, to “enter collectively into another cultural reality, a reminder that New York City is not the center of the universe, but can be central to conversations about it.”

As part of the Opening Night festivities, we will honor Faye Ginsburg. Thank you for joining us in celebrating Faye!