Warwick Thornton Wins the 2017 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award

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On Sunday night, the 2017 Margaret Mead Film Festival came to a close, wrapping four packed days of screenings, talks, installations, and parties.

Indigenous filmmaker Warwick Thornton was recognized with the 2017 Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award for his film We Don’t Need a Map, which had its U.S. premiere at the festival on Friday evening and was screened in an encore presentation on Sunday.

 

Sevanne Kassarjian stands next to Warwick Thornton as he holds his award statuette.

Sevanne Kassarjian (granddaughter of Margaret Mead) and Warwick Thornton.

© AMNH/R. Mickens


Thornton’s feature-length documentary examines how the asterism known as the Southern Cross, a constellation with tremendous cultural importance to Australia’s Indigenous peoples, has been co-opted by the country’s far-right nationalist movement.

 

Man wearing a baseball cap looks at a Captain Cook doll.

We Don’t Need a Map director Warwick Thorton. 

Courtesy of Barefoot Productions


“The interweaving of the indigenous cosmology with colonial and contemporary history and events provides a methodology, a map if you will, for communication and understanding among people of the world,” said Mead Festival juror Sally Berger, curator and fellow at NYU’s Center for Media, Culture, and History, about Thornton’s film

 

A human body lies on a table and two people wearing operating masks and protective clothing stand alongside the table.

17-year-old Ying Ling (right) is in training to be a mortician in Carol Salter’s Almost Heaven.

Courtesy of Rock Salt Films


Filmmaker Carol Salter was also honored with a special mention for her film, Almost Heaven, which had its U.S. premiere at the festival on Sunday and follows 17-year-old Ying Ling as she trains as a mortician at a funeral parlor in Changsha, China.   

Congratulations to Warwick Thornton and Carol Salter, and special thanks to all the filmmakers who were nominated for this year’s Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award for offering new perspectives on the cultures and communities around the world through their outstanding work.