Peruvian Films at the American Museum of Natural History

Those of you in New York will be treated to various films at the American Museum of Natural History which will be hosting the 34th Annual Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival from November 11th to the 14th. Three of the screenings stand out from the rest this year;

Carnival in Q’eros

This groundbreaking documentary shows the remarkable Carnival celebrations — never before seen by outsiders — of a remote community of Indians high in the Peruvian Andes. Their culture offers important clues into the Inca past and the roots of Andean cultures. The Q’eros play flutes and sing to their alpacas in a ritual to promote the animals’ fertility. The film shows how the music evolves from individual, to family, to ayllu, to community, a structure of spiritual activity distinct from the structure of kinship. The Q’eros sing and play separately from each other, producing a heterophonic sound without rhythmic beat, harmony, or counterpoint — a “chaotic” sound texture that exemplifies a key connection between the culture of the Andes and that of the Amazon jungle. The film also focuses on the protracted negotiations by which the Indians were compensated for their participation in the project.

My Land

Raised in a small farming village in the mountains of southern Peru, Feliciano works as a porter on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in hopes of some day taking his son to live in the city. Framed by the seasons, “Mi Chacra” chronicles one year in Feliciano’s life, from the planting season in his community to the harvest, and through a season of work on the Inca Trail. The film paints a vivid picture of this man’s world, of the conflict between his love of the land and the work he has learned from his father, and the desire to see his son living what he sees as a better life in the city.

Peruvian Weavers: A Continuous Warp

Examines warp pattern weaving in Peru, an ancient Andean Indian tradition handed down from woman to woman for some 5,000 years. Features a detailed demonstration of the warp pattern technique on back-strap and four-stake looms by Indian weavers and an interview with Dr. Junius Bird, of the American Museum of Natural History, who discusses this weaving tradition and analyzes significant examples.

Films that will have U.S. premieres at the Mead Festival and feature the filmmakers in person following the screenings include

  • Roscoe Holcomb. John Cohen uses intimate footage as well as interviews with family and community members to trace the life of this seminal banjo player’s early years. Roscoe was featured in Cohen’s first film The High Lonesome Sound, which will also be shown during the festival. (world premiere). Cohen will also play live music with his band the Dust Busters at the after-screening discussion.

  • Eisenwurzen: Das Musical (A Mountain Musical). Filmmaker Eva Eckert tells the humorous and fascinating story of how the Austrian tradition of yodeling is carried on in the warbling of an aging population.
  • The Electric Mind. Nadav Harel’s film is an intimate portrait of an octogenarian widow, a middle-aged artist, and a pre-teen girl looking for relief from their brain disorders through cutting edge technologies and “awake” brain surgeries.
  • My Beautiful Dacia. On a road trip from communism to capitalism, filmmakers Stefan Constantinescu and Julio Soto follow different generations of Romanians with one common love: the Dacia car.
  • Nel Giardino dei Suoni (In the Garden of Sounds). Nicola Bellucci tells the extraordinary story of Wolfgang Fasser, a blind musician and therapist who uses sound to initiate dialogues with severely handicapped children, helping them uncover ways to express themselves and find a place in a world not designed for them.
  • Tankograd. Directed by Boris Bertram, the film tells the story of Chelyabinsk, Russia. Once the site of a top-secret Cold War atomic bomb factory, the town is now the most radioactively polluted city in the world. But it’s also the unlikely hometown of a unique cultural institution: the vibrant, inspiring Chelyabinsk Contemporary Dance Theatre.

Special Presentation

The festival will feature a special presentation of the Museum’s collection of original glass lantern slides, some of which were recently rediscovered in the home of a former Museum library archivist. In the 19th century, these unique slides formed the foundation of a popular series of lectures conducted by Albert Bickmore, the Museum’s founder. With over 40,000 original glass lantern slides in the Museum Library’s collection, the breadthof subjects includes landscapes, scientific specimens, and expedition photography. Many were painstakingly hand-painted, and each is a stunning work of art.

WHEN: Thursday–Sunday, November 11–14, 2010

WHERE: Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Theater, Kaufmann Theater, Linder Theater, and People Center

American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street

TICKETS can be purchased by phone at 212-769-5200, online at amnh.org/mead, or at any of the American Museum ofNatural History admission desks. For more information or to request a schedule by mail, the public should call 212-769-5305.

URL amnh.org/mead

Julio C. Tello

Founder of Karikuy, an organization in Peru that brings travelers to visit and explore the country. Julio also runs the Karikuy Volunteer program and is the editor of this blog. Julio likes to write about his adventures in Peru as well as Peruvian folklore, mysteries and secluded locations.

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