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Margaret Mead Film Festival Offers Six World-Class Films

It's time for the third annual Margaret Mead Traveling Film Festival. If you love to learn about other people in other places in the world - your event is coming - April 10, 11 and 12, 2009.

Each year, the American Museum of Natural History in New York screens dozens of the best innovative, non-fiction films and selects favorites for its traveling show. Once again, UVI is hosting this traveling festival of excellent films from around the world.

This year's program features six films -- all new, all striking and all revealing about the world far from our islands. All films will be screened free of charge from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. in Chase Auditorium, Room 110 of the Business Building on the St. Thomas campus and on St. Croix in the Theater - Evans Center Room 401.

On Friday, April 10, the films are about the relationship between humans and animals, with a story about a seal that escapes the Prague zoo and a second about the first primate research lab caught in a war zone near Russia.

On Saturday, April 11, the first film features African women in Swaziland coping with AIDS, and the second film is about an aboriginal Australian woman who is thrust into the world of modern cinema.

On Sunday, April 12, audiences will visit with a family in the high plateaus of the Himalayas. The family ekes out a living raising goats to produce world famous pashmina wool. The filmmakers travel to Cambodia, where they follow the trail of bomb disposal experts trying to defuse Vietnam War-era bombs before children explode them.

FRIDAY, APRIL 10:

The Lost Colony (De Verloren Kolonie) Duration: 72 minutes - 2008
The Sukhum Primate Center in Abkhazia, the oldest primate research laboratory in the world, is crumbling. This once prominent facility has been hailed for its strides in medical research and space exploration. Founded in the 1920s, the institute now strives for relevance amid Abkhazia's struggle for independence from Georgia, dwindling funds, and the loss of a large portion of its animals to a modern lab in neighboring Russia. On the cusp of its 80th anniversary, filmmaker Astrid Bussink visits the lab as it prepares for a conference designed to drum up support in the scientific community. Meanwhile, one guard searches the surrounding forests for any sign of members of the monkey colony thought to have escaped from the lab during the 1992 military conflict. Archival footage of the center's glory days and present-day activities captured at a detached remove are combined with stunning images of the decaying buildings and grounds. Now, with recently renewed fighting between Georgia and Russia over Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence, Bussink's ironic take on this seemingly hopeless situation becomes prescient.

Peace With Seals - Director: Miloslav Novák - 86 min - 2008
The relationship between humans and animals is undergoing a profound change. In 2002, 'Gaston', a seal, escaped from the Prague Zoo during the floods and managed to swim to Germany before being re-captured. Gaston became a hero, "the most famous animal on earth", even having a statue erected in his honour at the zoo. But why elevate this particular animal to such cult status when at the same time seals, once widespread throughout Europe, are now an
endangered species? The second story took place 50 years earlier and tells the life story of a seal named Ulysses, caught in Sardinia by a Milan photojournalist who, in front of the cameras, tossed the animal into the famous Di Trevi fountain. Patellani - a friend of Federico Fellini's and a specialist on film stars - was fined for his action. The reason, however, was not the killing of a baby seal but the pollution of water in the fountain. We may be approaching a time when it will be impossible to see animals in their natural habitat. Is it acceptable that instead of seals on the beaches of the Mediterranean there are now sun-tanning tourists? Or that you can book a seal-hunting trip through a travel agent? How does this profound change affect our view both of animals and of ourselves? Will every animal one day be domesticated? And what is the domestication of people?

SATURDAY APRIL 11 :

River of No Return - Australia - Darlene Johnson- 52 minutes
Frances Daingangan is a 45-year old mother of three who comes from the remote community of Ramingining in North East Arnhem land. Like many young girls, Frances dreamed of being a movie star - a dream that came true when Rolf de Heer cast her in the lead female role of Nowalingu in Ten
Canoes. Her journey from traditional tribal life to red carpets and award ceremonies is unlike any other. It's a fascinating and unique story as Frances learns to overcome huge personal and cultural challenges. River of NoReturn is a story of change and transformation as Frances learns to move between the ancient life of the Yolgnu and modern world of the white culture.

Today the Hawk Takes One Chick - Swaziland - Africa - 72 minutes
Witnessing the highest prevalence of HIV in the world and the lowest life expectancy, three grandmothers in Swaziland cope in this critical moment in time. Today The Hawk Takes One Chick moves delicately between the lives of three unique grandmothers whose experiences highlight a rural community at the threshold of simultaneous collapse and reinvention. Through the poignant perspective of the three women, the film creates a portrait of a community by layering discrete moments in time. Presented without overt narrative structure or narration, the film's drama emerges from the patient accumulation of steady details that, in sum, tell a greater story of family, struggle, and the weight of an uncertain future in a world dictated by AIDS. The events in the film occur in a rural area with-in a 15-mile radius of St Phillips Health Center where one of the women, Thandiwe Mathujwa, works as a nurse. The facts that precede the film are that in the southern African kingdom of Swaziland, nearly 40% of its people are HIV positive and life expectancy has dropped to 32-years. The lives of the three grandmothers featured in the film have been consumed by addressing the needs of their community while at the same time remaining the threads of the fraying traditional life.

SUNDAY APRIL 12 :

Stone Pastures - Himalayas and Finland- 75 minutes - 2008
Stone Pastures tells the story of a nomadic family living on the Himalayan plateau of Chantang, Ladakh. In this high altitude cold desert, the most inhospitable of environments, father Sonam, mother Phuntsok, old uncle Tsewang, and the boys, Padma and Kunsang, struggle rearing pashmina goats. This struggle contains a paradox: Ladakh's gritty, rocky conditions give rise to the finest of materials, pashmina wool. Produced by the nomads' goats as a warm undercoat, this is the raw material for luxurious Kashmiri shawls, and the family's only source of income. The film follows the family through the seasons in the context of their livelihood. Aspiring towards a more comfortable, settled life, we find Ladakh's nomads in a state of transition, between traditional life and modern ways. In Stone Pastures, this transition is seen mainly through the eyes of the family's youngest son, Kunsang, as he moves away from the life of his ancestors, travelling between the high plateau and boarding school in Leh, Ladakh's Capital.

Bomb Harvest Laos and Australia - 88 minutes - 2007
Over 35 years ago, during the Vietnam War, American bombs rained down on Laos in the 'Secret War', leaving it the most bombed country, per capita, in history. The deadly legacy of this destruction continues, with the country still scattered with unexploded ordnance. A huge live bomb is found behind a village school and straight-talking, laconic Australian bomb disposal specialist Laith Stevens arrives to check it out. He's in the process of training a new 'big bomb' team, so reluctantly leaves the bomb's disposal until the team is up to the task. Reluctant, because rural poverty has triggered a brisk illegal trade in bomb scrap metal and the local children are out hunting for bombs. In order to find the right person to deal with the very dangerous bomb behind the school, Laith will take his team of fledgling bomb disposal specialists down to a remote area of the Ho Chi Minh Trail where they will test their new skills on live bombs for the first time. With the Lao ability to find the humour in horrific circumstances, Laith uses his larrikin jokes and can-do attitude to bond with the team and local villagers in order to get them through this harrowing task alive. But will they get back to the bomb behind the school in time?

These films are world class and these evenings promise to be enlightening and very stimulating. UVI Professor of Communication Dr. Alex Randall says, "These films are real eye-openers, featuring world class cinematography and subjects that stretch the imagination and bring a slice of the outside world to our community." Everyone is invited. Seating is limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

For information about the Margaret Mead Film Festival please contact Prof. Alex Randall at 693-1377 or by e-mail at arandal@uvi.edu