Christy Garland Wins 2018 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award main content.

Christy Garland Wins 2018 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award

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Christy Garland holds the 2018 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award and gives an acceptance speech.
Christy Garland was awarded the 2018 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award for her film What Walaa Wants during a special ceremony on Sunday, October 21, 2018.
R. Mickens/© AMNH

On Sunday night, the 2018 Margaret Mead Film Festival concluded four days of screenings, talks, and parties with the announcement of Christy Garland as the winner of the Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award and a special encore screening of her film What Walaa Wants.

Garland’s film tells the story of a young woman, Walaa, who dreams of joining the Palestinian Security Forces, growing up in a refugee camp while her mother is in an Israeli prison. With her mother’s release, she focuses on her dream but her strong personality and rebellious attitude land Walaa in constant trouble with her superiors, revealing the complexities of growing up female under occupation.

“What we felt that was really strong about the film was the way that it is showing the growth and development of a young woman who’s a very complex person,” said juror Toby Lee, an artist, anthropologist, and assistant professor of Cinema Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. “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.”

Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Uksuum Cauyai (The Drums of Winter) director, and juror Sarah Elder praised “the intimate nature” of the film’s cinematography, and “the access that the director had to the family and to the police academy.”

Garland was selected from among eleven contenders by a jury that included Lee and Elder, along with Chris Hegedus, director of the Academy Award-nominated The War Room; Sam Pollard, a feature film and television video editor and documentary producer-director whose work includes August Wilson: The Ground On Which I Stand for PBS; and Heather Rae, an Academy Award-nominated producer whose work includes Frozen River, Netflix Originals Tallulah and Dude, I Believe in Unicorns, and The Dry Land.

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.