Migrants, Jeans, and Dodos: Film Festival arrives at Swarthmore

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The Margaret Mead Traveling Film Festival is the longest running international showcase for documentaries in the United States, featuring a broad spectrum of selections in both subject material and form. The Traveling Festival brings access to the innovative work it receives by providing showings at museums, community centers, festivals, colleges and universities, and libraries across the nation. On Friday January 26 and Saturday January 27, it will be Swarthmore College’s turn to experience what the festival has to offer.

Of the twelve films from the 2006 festival, three were chosen to be shown: “El Inmigrante” by David Eckenrode, “China Blue” by Micha X. Peled, and “A Flock of Dodos” by Randy Olson.

“El Inmigrante” examines the Mexican and American border crisis by telling the story of a young Mexican migrant, Eusebio de Haro, who was shot and killed while journeying north. The film documents various perspectives in this complex issue by interviewing the de Haro family, the community of Brackettville, Texas where Eusebio was shot, members of vigilante border militias in Arizona, the horseback border patrol in El Paso, and migrants en route to an uncertain future in the United States.

“China Blue” peers into blue-jeans factory in China where teenagers Jasmine and her friends try to survive a harsh working environment of around the clock hours after the factory owner agrees to a deal with a Western client. It details how the clothes people buy are really made.

“Flock of Dodos” takes a humorous view on the debate raging between supporters of evolution and intelligent design. Referencing the dodos, the species of flightless bird that was unable to adapt to a changing environment, becoming extinct as well as well-known for its apparent stupidity, Olsen tries to determine who the “dodos” are in this debate.

Organized and recruited by Sociology/Anthropology Professor Miguel Diaz-Barriga, a team of professors will lead a discussion at the conclusion of each film. Professor Diaz-Barriga will be joined by Modern Languages and Literatures professor Aurora Camacho de Schmidt and Sociology/Anthropology professor Braulio Munoz for “El Inmigrante”. History professor Lillian Li and Sociology/Anthropology professor Aya Ezawa will be on hand to lead discussions about “China Blue” and Professor Steven Piker of Sociology/Anthropology and Professor Colin Purrington of Biology will lead the discussion for “Flock of Dodos”

While the issues and stories presented by the three documentaries are very different from one another, Professor Piker explains, “my hope, and perhaps expectation, is that people who will have seen all three films and will have been present for discussions of them will create connecting themes.”

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