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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. 

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