Resilience in Motion


Welcome to the Mead

A blind, Indigenous musician from a remote corner of Australia achieves international fame and bridges two wildly different worlds (Gurrumul). Transgender women in Tonga create a safe and jubilant space for self-expression (Leitis in Waiting). A Scottish musician shapes a movement to preserve and reinvigorate the performance of traditional Scottish fiddle (The Groove Is Not Trivial).

Where else but the Mead? As an anthropologist, Margaret Mead helped illuminate our shared humanity, and this year’s festival honors her legacy by connecting us to communities across the globe through stories of resilience, portraits of strength, and actions by people who refuse to be cast as victims.

Each year we are astonished by the breadth of human stories represented. These stories allow us to look past fear-inducing news cycles and renew our belief in real people who are rising up, breaking new ground, and pushing their communities forward. Around the world and in our own backyard, there is a sense of moving forward and drive—we are seeing resilience in motion.

In addition to its best-of-the-best documentary films, this year’s Mead offers virtual reality, oral histories, and more in the Mixed Media Lounge. The Mead also features a beautiful installation by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, a contemporary artist of the Northwest Coast's Haida Nation, who bridges traditional motifs and contemporary experience. New this year is a centerpiece presentation we call Collectively. Focusing on the work of community organizations that train and support Indigenous and other filmmakers, Collectively showcases a slate of films from three extraordinary groups: Bophana Center of Cambodia, Maisha Film Lab of East Africa, and Vídeo nas Aldeias | Video in the Villages of Brazil.

As always, the Mead is a place for conversation and connection—from Mead Mixers to stimulating dialogues to post-screening discussions and the annual Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Ceremony. The Mead is also a gateway to many exciting happenings at the American Museum of Natural History. While you’re here, take time to see our newest temporary exhibitions, Unseen Oceans and Our Senses: An Immersive Experienceand visit old favorites like the big blue whale in the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.

There is a sense of momentum—even hope—to this year’s Mead and we can’t wait to press play together. 

Bella Desai
Director of Public Programs and Exhibition Education


Resilience in Motion | In Their Own Words

Filmmakers reflect on the Mead’s 2018 theme, Resilience in Motion:

“The most interesting and sustainable seeds of resilience are spread from a couple of enthusiasts with a passion for a cause growing a movement and inspiring others.”

—Kurt Reinhard and Christoph Schreiber, Ciao Babylon

“A documentary about modern voter suppression and the 2016 Presidential election, this film’s strength lies in the personal dedication and determination of Laverne, Steve, Claire, and Trista to help their fellow citizens vote. Their continued work fighting for democracy and the resilience they embody parallels our hope for the resilience of democracy itself.

—Anne de Mare, Capturing the Flag

“The singers’ and dancers’ resistance to cultural assimilation is profound. Today, some 40 years after the making of the film, Yup’ik dance flourishes in a remarkable renaissance.” 
—Sarah Elder, Uksuum Cauyai (The Drums of Winter) 

“We have a Finnish concept called ‘sisu.’ It can be translated into grit, bravery, determination, or even resilience, and it’s something that embodies our national character. G. J. Ramstedt, our documentary hero, was infused with a great deal of ‘sisu.’”

—Niklas Kullström and Martti Kaartinen, Eastern Memories

“It’s a film about Scotland's cultural and artistic resilience, resistance to erasure, and sheer joy in celebrating freedom of self-expression. Whether knowledgeable about traditional Scottish music or a complete novice, folks of all stripes find powerful connection to the film’s energetic, free-spirited sound and politically relevant theme of cultural reclamation and resilience.

Tommie Dell Smith, The Groove Is Not Trivial