Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award

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 awards ceremony and will be shown in an encore presentation. 

The 2017 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Contenders:

Nujoom Alghanem, director, Honey, Rain & Dust 

Luuk Bouwman, director, Dick Verdult — It Is True But Not Here

Marie Clements, director, The Road Forward 

Olga Delane, director, Siberian Love 

Olivier Jourdain, director, Sacred Water

Timothy George Kelly, director, Brexitannia

David Plath, director, So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of a War

Carol Salter, director, Almost Heaven 

Roman Shumunov, director, Babylon Dreamers

Bart Simpson, director, Brasília: Life After Design

Wojciech Staroń, director, Brothers

Manuel von Stürler, director, Lust for Sight

Warwick Thornton, director, We Don’t Need a Map 

The 2017 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award Jury includes:

Alice Apley is the executive director of Documentary Educational Resources (DER), where she oversees curation, marketing, and exhibition of the nearly 900 titles in DER’s catalogue. Alice is co-director of Cinepedia Ethnographica, an expert-generated online catalogue for ethnographic and folklore film. Prior to the DER, Alice conducted rough-cut screenings, impact studies, and contributed to project design and development for educational media and museum producers. From 2009–2011, she served on the board of the Society for Visual Anthropology, where she was a jury member and co-coordinator of the SVA Film Festival. Alice’s production credits include being co-director of the short documentary Remembering John Marshall and director of video case studies for the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

Sally Berger is a film and media curator, lecturer, and writer whose work focuses on the relationships between experimental film and media installation; nonfiction and fiction film; and documentary film and art. She is currently a Fellow at the Center for Media, Culture and History at New York University. Sally was the director/co-founder of the Museum of Modern Art’s Documentary Fortnight—an international nonfiction film festival. She has organized retrospectives of film directors such as Roddy Bogawa, Harun Farocki, Su Friedrich as well as media art installations. Sally’s thematic exhibitions have explored indigenous media, Chinese documentary film, women in film, and groundbreaking media art organizations. 

Bonni Cohen has produced and directed an array of award-winning films. Most recently, Bonni co-directed An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, which wasselected as the 2017 Sundance Film Festival’s opening-night film. In 2016, Bonni co-directed Audrie & Daisy, which premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and became a Netflix Original film. As producer, Bonni served on The Island President, winner of the 2011 Toronto International Best Documentary.  Her work as producer and director on The Rape of Europa won her a PGA and WGA Award nominations and the film was short-listed for the Oscars. In addition, Bonni co-directed Inside Guantanamo, which was nominated for an Emmy for Best Documentary in 2009. Together with Lisa Chanoff, Bonni is the co-founder of the Catapult Film Fund.  

Lewis Erskine, ACE, was born Negro in New York City and grew up Black in America. He attended Pitzer College and holds a bachelor of arts degree in psychology from New York University. Listening to music on 1970s Black radio and watching The Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre grow honed his ear and his eye. One of his first jobs was sound mixing for clubs, concerts, and records. For him, editing work is like being paid to have fun and he has been having this fun since 1985. Lewis is thankful to have been invited and welcomed into the world of long-form documentary by St. Clair Bourne. He’s worked with Walter Cronkite, Michael Moore, Ken Burns, Shola Lynch, Bill Moyers, and Stanley Nelson. 

Andrew Okpeaha MacLean is an Iñupiaq filmmaker, writer, and director born and raised in Barrow, Alaska. His film On the Ice received widespread acclaim at Sundance 2011(where it won Best First Feature), the Berlin International Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival and the 2011 Woodstock Film Festival. He was also named Best Director for On the Ice at the 2011 American Indian Film Festival. His short film Sikumi premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking.He co-founded the Iñupiat Theater, the first theater company in the country solely dedicated to performing in the indigenous Iñupiaq language. From 2014 to 2016, Andrew served as instructor and mentor in the Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program Film Lab, and mentored in the University of Alaska’s FRAME Film Program.  

Previous winners of the Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award include:

2016 Recipient: Aleksandra Maciuszek, director, Casa Blanca

2016 Special Mention: Jessie Deeter, director, A Revolution in Four Seasons

2015 Recipients: Kim Beamish, director, The Tentmakers of Cairo and Iiris Härmä, director Leaving Africa: A Story About Friendship and Empowerment

2015 Special Mention: Aldona Watts, director, Land of Songs

2014 Recipients: José Cohen and Lorenzo Hagerman, directors, H2O MX

2014 Special Mention: Simona Ghizzoni and Emanuela Zuccalà, directors, Just to Let You Know That I’m Alive

2013 Recipients: Sarah Gavron and David Katznelson, directors, Village at the End of the World

2013 Special Mention: Lalita Krishna, director, Mallamall

2012 Recipient: Adam Isenberg, director, A Life Without Words (Una Vida Sin Palabras)

2012 Special Mention: Giovanni Giommi, director, Bad Weather and Miyarrka Media for Manapanmirr in the Christmas Spirit

2011 Recipient: Yuanchen Liu for To The Light

2010 Recipient: Marc and Nick Francis, directors, When China Met Africa

Past Jury Members Include:

2016: Carlos A. Gutiérrez, co-founder and executive director of Cinema Tropical, Kirsten Johnson, director and cinematographer of Oscar-winning Citizenfour, Carolyn Rouse, a cultural anthropologist at Princeton who focuses on how evidence and authority are used to validate truth claims and calls for social justice, Basil Tsiokos, director of programming for DOC NYC, and Christine Walley, an anthropologist at MIT and Mead alum.

2015:Orlando Bagwell, documentary filmmaker and former Ford Foundation Director; Jessica Hagedorn, playwright, novelist, poet, and screenwriter; Meg McLagan, documentary filmmaker and cultural anthropologist; and Lacey Schwartz, documentary filmmaker and outreach strategist.

2014: Director of the Documentary Film Program at the Sundance Institute, Tabitha Jackson; filmmaker and author, Sadia Shepard; filmmaker and professor, Marco Williams; and author, anthropologist, and filmmaker, John L. Jackson, Jr.

2013: senior vice president of HBO Documentary Films, Lisa Heller, filmmaker and professor, Jamal Joseph, former program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, Richard Peña; and author and filmmaker, Sadia Shepard

2012: founder and executive director of the New York African Film Festival, Mahen Bonetti; director, Patricia Cardoso; Executive Director and co-founder of Impact Partners, Dan Cogan; and filmmaker, activist and educator, Judith Helfand

2011: Led by jury chair and Academy Award-nominated director Darren Aronofsky. Other members include Film Forum’s Karen Cooper, documentary producer Liz Garbus, and filmmaker Stanley Nelson

2010: filmmaker, photographer, and anthropologist John Cohen; producer Wendy Ettinger; filmmaker and animator Emily Hubley; and director Thomas Allen Harris