Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award

Mead Award Slide

The Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award recognizes documentary filmmakers who embody the spirit, energy, and innovation demonstrated by anthropologist Margaret Mead in her research, fieldwork, films, and writings.

The award is given to a filmmaker whose feature-length documentary displays artistic excellence and originality of storytelling technique while offering a new perspective on a culture or community remote from the majority of our audiences’ experience. Filmmakers with works making their U.S. premieres at the festival are eligible. On Sunday evening, the Mead Award winner will be announced in an award ceremony and will be shown in an encore presentation. 

2019 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Winner

Erica Glynn, director, She Who Must be Loved

Director Erica Glynn was the winner of this year's Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award. She Who Must Be Loved draws you in from the opening and keeps viewers engaged as it uncovers a family's complex history," said the jurors. "At its heart is a fabulously compelling main subject–witty, thoughtful and true to her ideals. Like all great films that enable viewers to become immersed in a particular place, this film also resonates with universal themes. Mothers everywhere will relate to the difficult decisions that Freda Glynn had to make as she sought to balance her career and her family life. Through her story, we become aware of the kinds of support and opportunities that all people need to thrive. We understand anew, and on multiple levels, how important it is to enable people to tell their own stories."

Special mention: Mari Gulbiani, director, Before Father Gets Back (Sanam mama dabrundeba)

Said the jurors, "With a vivid sense of place, Before Father Gets Back (Sanam mama dabrundeba) transports the audience into the world of its subjects. The film's dual framing, through both the perspective of the filmmaker and Iman and Eva's discovery of film as a portal to see their world anew and a way to express themselves, provides multiple points of entry for the viewer to connect emotionally with the film. The aesthetics of this film emerge not only from a shared love for film and the act of framing the world, but also from a deeply intimate relationship between the filmmaker and film subjects that captures authentic, intimate and and revelatory moments."

2019 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Jury

Juliane Dressner is a director, producer, and cinematographer. Her film Personal Statement, about three Brooklyn high school seniors determined to get their entire classes into college, was screened at last year’s Mead.

Julie Goldman, founder of Motto Pictures, is an Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer and executive producer of documentary feature films and series. 

Christina D. King is an enrolled member of the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma whose work spans broadcast news, commercials, documentary and fiction feature films, and television, with a focus on human rights issues and civic engagement.

Kamal Sinclair is a senior consultant for Sundance Institute’s Future of Culture Initiative. She previously served as the director of Sundance Institute’s New Frontier Labs Program. 

J.P. Sniadecki, a Mead alum, is an artist and anthropologist whose films are in the permanent collections of MoMA and the SFMOMA. He is the director of the Documentary Media MFA program at Northwestern University.


Marcela Arteaga, director, The Guardian of Memory (El Guardián de la Memoria)

Vincent Carelli and Wewito Piyãko, directors, Antonio y Piti

Laura Coppens, director, Taste of Hope

Erica Glynn, director, She Who Must be Loved

Gavin Guerra, director, Let the People Decide

Mari Gulbiani, director, Before Father Gets Back (Sanam mama dabrundeba)

Tasha Hubbard, director, nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

Hye-Ryeong Park, director, The Wandering Chef

Sidse Torstholm Larsen and Sturla Pilskog, directors, Winter’s Yearning

Floor van der Meulen, director, The Last Male On Earth

Isa Willinger, director, Hi, AI

Adrian Russell Wills, directorBlack Divaz

Aviva Ziegler, director, Wandering Souls

Sam Zubrycki, director, Miguelito - Canto A Borinquen


2018 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Winner

Christy Garland, director, What Walaa Wants  

“What we felt that was really strong about the film was the way that it is showing the kind of growth and development of a young woman who’s a very complex person,” said juror Toby Lee. “That it shows all of her internal contradictions that are also very much connected to the contradictions of the kind of larger historical and political context in which she lives.”

“Also, we like the cinematography,” said juror Sarah Elder. “The intimate nature of it and the access that the director had to the family and to the police academy.”


2017 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Winner

Warwick Thornton, director, We Don’t Need a Map
Special Mention: Carol Salter, director, Almost Heaven


2016 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Winner

Aleksandra Maciuszek, director, Casa Blanca
Special Mention: Jessie Deeter, director, A Revolution in Four Seasons


2015 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Winner

For the first time in the history of the Margaret Mead Film Festival, two directors shared the filmmaker award:

Kim Beamish, director, The Tentmakers of Cairoand
Iiris Härmä, director Leaving Africa: A Story About Friendship and Empowerment
Special Mention: Aldona Watts, director, Land of Songs


2014 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Winner

José Cohen and Lorenzo Hagerman, directors, H2O MX
Special Mention: Simona Ghizzoni and Emanuela Zuccalà, directors, Just to Let You Know That I’m Alive


2013 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Winner

Sarah Gavron and David Katznelson, directors, Village at the End of the World
Special Mention: Lalita Krishna, director, Mallamall


2012 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Winner

Adam Isenberg, director, A Life Without Words (Una Vida Sin Palabras)
Special Mention: Giovanni Giommi, director, Bad Weather
Special Mention: Miyarrka Media for Manapanmirr in the Christmas Spirit


2011 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Winner

Yuanchen Liu, director, To The Light


2010 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Winner

Marc and Nick Francis, directors, When China Met Africa