Margaret Mead Film Festival 2013 Offers An Impressive Slate of Artfully Made, Provocative Documentaries From Across the Globe

Featured Critic; New York City, New York
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The 2013 edition of the Margaret Mead Film Festival, the American Museum of Natural History's annual international documentary showcase, screens from October 17 through 20. If the films that I was able to preview are any indication, this year's selections are especially impressive. The theme of this year's festival is "See for Yourself." And that you'll be able to do plenty of, as you view fascinatingly eclectic representations of global cultures, touching on many aspects of the human experience, explored with great skill in narrative and cinematic techniques. In addition to the films, there will be talks, film installations, and live music performances, packing a great deal of activities in just four days.

Here are some selections I especially recommend. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit the Margaret Mead Film Festival's website.

CHIMERAS (Mika Mattila)

The most impressive of the films I was able to preview, the visually stunning and intellectually stimulating Chimeras explores the parallel lives of two Chinese artists. Wang Guangyi, who was involved in China’s avant-garde art movement of the 1980’s, is now a contemporary art-world star, whose canvases sell for millions of dollars apiece. Despite this success, Wang is now going through an anxiety-of-influence artistic crisis, feeling increasingly conflicted over the growing Westernization of Chinese art and culture. Meanwhile, up-and-coming photography artist Liu Gang is getting his first taste of recognition with a major gallery show, featuring warped images of Western pop culture. However, this is complicated by his fiancé’s pressures on him concerning marriage, and a proposed project about China’s one-child policy that others tell him may be politically dangerous.

Chimeras presents a China filled with pervasive Western influences, and Mattila has an unerring eye for capturing images that perceptively illustrate this, from people doing tai chi in front of a looming Cartier storefront, to Beijing’s imitations of Paris and London. Through its portraits of artists, Chimeras brilliantly portrays an unsettled China, constantly in artistic and political flux.

(October 19, 3:30pm)

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documentariesMargaret Mead Film Festival 2013
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