DOC NYC Presents “The Anthropologist”
November 8, 2015. DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary film festival, runs from November 12 – 19 at IFC Center (323 6th Avenue), Chelsea’s SVA Theatre (333 West 23rd Street) and Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas (260 West 23rd Street). The 2015 edition of DOC NYC will include 104 feature length documentaries. More than 200 documentary filmmakers are expected, in person, to present their films. Special guests will include Hillary Rodham Clinton and Martin Scorsese.
On Friday, November 13 the documentary “The Anthropologist” will have its premiere screening at DOC NYC. The screening will take place at the SVA Theatre at 9:30 pm.
“The Anthropologist” is the latest documentary made by Ironbound Films, a unique company which has produced some fascinating documentaries. Ironbound Films boasts no less than three directors – Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger – all of whom work on the company’s movies. Previous Ironbound documentaries include the 2012 documentary “Evocateur: the Morton Downey, Jr. Movie” (available on Netflix) and “The Linguists” (2008).
As someone who teaches sociology, on the college level, I found “The Anthropologist” to be particularly interesting. The story concerns anthropologist Susan Crate and her journeys, over a five year period, visiting regions threatened by global warming. Crate is accompanied by her daughter Katie (who ages from 14 to 18 over the course of the film).
There is an interesting connection to be made between “The Anthropologist” and “The Linguists.” “The Linguists” concerns linguists (language experts) who travel to remote parts of the world to find and record languages soon to disappear. “The Anthropologist” concerns countries and cultures which may soon be under water (quite literally) due to rising tides resulting from global warming. Susan and Katie also travel to Siberia where global warming has caused the permafrost to melt. The resulting water destroys the production of hay, which is needed to feed cows, an important source of food for the people who live there.
The film raises a host of vital questions and ideas, which have implications for all. What happens to a culture once its land is under water? The idea is brought forth that stability requires constant adjustment. Will the culture be able to change and re-establish itself it? What will happened to the very fabric of its society – identity, culture, language as a result of climate change?
“The Anthropologist” is an unusual portrait of global warming in that it looks at the qualitative, as opposed to the quantitative, effects of global warming. In other words, the film is about people and their concerns, as opposed to merely statistics, or as Susan puts it, “The missing part is the human face.” “The Anthropologist” reminded me of the 2011 documentary, “The Island President” which also dealt with the effects of global warming on the Maldive Islands.
“The Anthropologist” delves into the role of what an anthropologist does when negotiating another culture. “You’re making a fool out of yourself five times a day,” we are told, when one does not know the customs of a particular culture.
“The Anthropologist” has been nicely edited by Seth Kramer. He keeps the proceedings moving at a good pace, accomplishing what any good documentary should, which is to make its subject universal and interesting. The film employs a unique structure which emphasizes its theme of mothers and daughters. Susan’s and Katie’s travels and discoveries are intercut with observations from Mary Catherine Bateson, daughter of famed anthropologist Margaret Mead and an anthropologist in her own right. While Bateson speaks of her mother’s work, as well as her own observations about anthropology, her comments are juxtaposed with Susan’s and Katie’s story. The result is a blending of past and present which presents the idea that the more things change, the more they remain the same. We just have to adjust…and may have no choice in the matter.
For more information on DOC NYC go to http://www.docnyc.net
Posted on November 8, 2015, in DOC NYC 2015, Documentary, Feature Articles and tagged Daniel A. Miller, DOC NYC, Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie, Hillary Clinton, Ironbound films, Jeremy Newberger, Katie Crate, Margaret Mead, Martin Scorsese, Mary Catherine Bateson, Seth Kramer, Susan Crate, The Antthropologist, The Linguists. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.