The Anthropologist at Cinema Village November 11 – 17

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Anthropologist Susan Crate (center) and her daughter Katie in “The Anthropologist”

 November 9, 2016. “The Anthropologist,” one of the best documentaries from last year’s DOC NYC, will have its premiere at Cinema Village (22 East 12th Street) on Friday, November 11 and will continue playing at Cinema Village, daily, through November 17. Following the 7:15 pm screenings on Friday November 11 and Saturday November 12 the film’s three filmmakers (yes three!), Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger will conduct Q&A sessions with the audiences.

The Anthropologist” is an award winning documentary from Ironbound Films, a unique company which has produced some fascinating documentaries. Previous documentaries from Ironbound Films include the 2012 documentary “Evocateur: the Morton Downey, Jr. Movie” and “The Linguists” (2008).

The Anthropologist” follows anthropologist Susan Crate on her journeys, over a five year period, during which she visits regions which are threatened by global warming right now, as opposed to areas where global warming may be a problem with which to contend in the future. For example, Susan and Katie travel to Siberia where global warming has caused the permafrost to melt. The resulting water, from the melted permafrost, destroys the production of hay, which is needed to feed cows, an important source of food for the people who live there. Crate is accompanied by her, sometimes reluctant, daughter Katie (who ages from 14 to 18 over the course of the film).

The film raises a host of vital questions and ideas. 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? What will happen to the very fabric of its society – identity, culture, language as a result of climate change?

The documentary 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 an unfamiliar culture.

The Anthropologist” has been nicely and efficiently 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 “The Anthropologist” screenings at Cinema Village visit https://www.cinemavillage.com/Now-Playing/the-anthropologist.html.

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About unpaidfilmcritic

Up until 2009 Seth Shire spent nearly two decades in the New York film industry as a post production supervisor of feature films. Highlights include working on the films of Martin Scorsese, James Toback and Spike Lee. Since leaving the film industry Seth has expanded into new and varied areas where he has found a great deal of satisfaction. Seth currently teaches in the Sociology Department of CUNY Queens College. His courses include "Mass Media and Popular Culture," "Introduction to Sociology," and "Sociology of Cinema" where he is a very popular teacher. Seth is also the film critic for "Town & Village," a Manhattan weekly newspaper, a position he has held for the past six years. Seth gives back to his community through volunteer teaching at Manhattan's "The Caring Community," a center for senior citizens, where he teaches a very popular course on documentaries called "The Golden Age of the Documentary. In the fall of 2010 Seth taught "Critical Reading and Writing" at Parsons School of Design. He has also taught "Cinema Studies" at the New York Film Academy. Seth lives in Stuyvesant Town, in Manhattan.

Posted on November 9, 2016, in Documentary, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thank you for posting this-looking forward to seeing it. Of course, the 7:15 show is way past my bedtime. How you & your amazing mom are well. Does the eponymous filmmaker have a two-tone beard?

    O.S.

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