The Anthropologist


Marcus Rochester Cinema Wed, Apr 20, 2016 4:45 PM
The Main 2 Fri, Apr 22, 2016 4:40 PM
The Main 2 Sat, Apr 23, 2016 12:45 PM
Ticket Prices
General Public:$13.00
Child (12 & Under):$7.00
Film Info
Premiere Status:Regional Premiere
Programs:- Documentaries
- inFLUX
Tags:Science & Technology
Road Movie
Release Year:2015
Runtime:80 min
Russian Federation
Print Source:Ironbound Films
Director:Daniel Miller
Seth Kramer
Jeremy Newberger
Producer:Seth Kramer
Daniel A. Miller
Jeremy Newberger
Cinematographer:Roger Grange
Screenwriter:Daniel A. Miller
Editor:Seth Kramer
Composer:Peter Rundquist
Dar Williams
Principal Cast:Mary Catherine Bateson
Susie Crate
Katie Yegorov-Crate
Filmography:Debut Feature


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Climate change remains one of the most hotly debated and largely misunderstood topics we face today. A team of filmmakers contextualizes the topic by exploring the parallel stories of Margaret Mead, a cultural anthropologist famous for her studies in the 1960s, and Susie Crate, a contemporary environmental anthropologist. This insightful documentary not only takes us into the field, highlighting different geographical locations struggling with the unavoidable effects of global warming, but also humanizes these issues by seeing them distilled through the perspective of a scientist as a mother and the eyes of a teenage daughter.

"A fresh look at the world (and applications) of anthropology, 'The Anthropologist' combines a uniquely human story with a new take on how to use an ever-evolving science." - Indiewire

Directors' Statement

For the three directors of The Anthropologist — Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller, and Jeremy Newberger — The Linguists was our breakout hit. We followed two young, hip scientists around the world documenting languages on the verge of extinction. The film premiered at Sundance and played at hundreds of film festivals. It aired on PBS and was nominated for an Emmy.

A follow-up seemed like a no-brainer.We checked in with the National Science Foundation about funding another documentary with a similar formula: Make real-life social scientists seem like Indiana Joneses. NSF bit, but with apprehension.

The catch was that we wanted to make this film about climate change. We thought that the many documentaries on the subject were too often birds-eye views of environmental and political trends. We wanted to give climate change a Linguists treatment: Find a couple of down-to-earth characters using their scientific know how to make sense of a crisis. The fact that they too are learning and occasionally stumble make them great proxies for the rest of us.

NSF was right to worry about The Anthropologist. NSF is under constant scrutiny by the Republican-controlled Congress for funding what it considers frivolous or low-priority projects, particularly involving the social sciences. Imagine how Congress felt about a film about both the social sciences and climate change. When learning of our grant, Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), a prominent climate change skeptic,demanded“ every e-mail, letter, memorandum, record, note [and] text message” regarding its approval.

Mr. Smith was the least of our problems.The world’s foremost expert on the anthropology of climate change is Susie Crate, a professor at George Mason University. Unlike either of The Linguists, Susie didn’t do fieldwork with a rapier-witted colleague with whom she was in perfect sync; more like a petulant, unpredictable teenage daughter. Their dynamic—like that of almost all mothers and teenage daughters,we learned—alternated between bestie and beastly. Midway through production, we directed another documentary called Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie. The late, in-your-face talk-show host couldn’t hold a candle to the fireworks that erupted between these two.

Katie especially didn’t share Mort’s love for the spotlight. Over the course of five years, we followed Susie and Katie on expeditions to Siberia, the Kiribati Islands in the South Pacific, the Virginia coast of the Chesapeake Bay, and Peru. Each plan was met with hostility and questions from Katie.Why must my mother drag me on her field trips? Why can’t I stay home with my friends? Why must you film my mom and me even when we’re fighting? To that, the unspoken answer: Otherwise we’d never be filming. As Katie, her bond with her mother, and their relationship with us matured, so too did the trust among our group and our sense of a shared mission.

Raised on John Hughes films (listen for singer-songwriter Dar Williams’ tribute to them in the closing credits), we couldn’t help but seethe upheaval of a teenager’s world as a metaphor for that of our changing planet. Communities we visited also felt anger and incredulity at being forced into a situation; worked to accept it on their own terms; and struggled to build on it in a way of their choosing and that ideally improved upon their original lot. Sometimes, despite whatever progress had been made, these communities would sink back into their original anger and incredulity. But they were determined to move on.

When we returned from the field for the last time, we sought to make sense of this long and intense journey. We took a pilgrimage up to the tiny hamlet of Hancock, New Hampshire, in the midst of a furious, weeklong blizzard. Our guru was Mary Catherine Bateson, the then 76-year-old daughter of the world’s best-known anthropologist Margaret Mead.

Mary Catherine had herself finished a storied career as a linguist and anthropologist. In her living room, surrounded by souvenirs of countries visited and cultures researched, the sunlight streamed through a wall of windows, outside just beginning to melt the mountains of snow. We asked as an anthropologist’s daughter what she observed of the observer. We questioned how and why she first became interested in what her mother did. We asked about how the cultures her mother studied dealt with unprecedented changes nearly a century ago.

Her remarkable insights form the backbone of The Anthropologist. They provide a structure for our observations with Susie and Katie and perspective for them to stand as a lesson. It is one we hope current congressmen, future scientists,and communities both now and eventually in peril will heed


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