The 40th edition of the Margaret Mead Film Festival, screening at the American Museum of Natural History through October 16, continues its mission of bringing audiences artful and fascinating global perspectives on the most pressing issues of our time. Women's rights, climate change, and immigration are but a few of the issues tackled in this year's selections. Along with film screenings, there are installations, a new virtual-reality lounge, and panels.
Below are my recommendations of some notable films. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit the festival's website.
A REVOLUTION IN FOUR SEASONS (Jessie Deeter) *OPENING NIGHT FILM
This documentary tracks Tunisia's revolution over four years, beginning with the overthrow and ouster of President Ben Ali in 2011, the start of the "Arab Spring." That actually turned out to be the easy part, as this very timely and intensely relevant film shows. The difficult part was when the revolutionaries actually had to govern, an arduous process that exposed and exacerbated deep rifts within Tunisian society, largely along religious lines. This is illustrated by the two women focused on in the film: left-wing journalist Emna Ben Jemaa and Islamist politician Jawhara Ettis.
Though both women are passionately work toward making Tunisia a fully democratic country; they differ sharply in their visions of what such a country would look like. While Emna envisions a secular Western-style democracy, Jawhara seeks a balance between democratic politics and Islamic principles. The film vividly takes us through the contentious elections and power struggles that occurred, which included political assassinations. Despite this incredible turmoil, Tunisia remains one of the region's success stories, at least politically, emerging with the most progressive constitution of any country in that region.