It's time for the third annual Margaret Mead Traveling Film Festival. 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, the University of the Virgin Islands will host this traveling festival of excellent films from around the world on April 10-12.
This year's program features six films. All of them will be screened free of charge from 6-10 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. Two films will be screened each night.
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 honor 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?
Seating is limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. For information about the Margaret Mead Film Festival, contact Prof. Alex Randall at 693-1377 or by e-mail at email@example.com