Archaeology Fest Film Series

Archaeological Legacy Institute and its partners around the state of Oregon are pleased to present the best films from the 2012 edition of The Archaeology Channel International Film and Video Festival.

Archaeology Fest Film Series, Best of 2012, travels to Portland this January. Top-rated by the Festival jury and audience, these films are organized into two-hour evening programs. The series is a benefit for the Festival, an annual spring event in downtown Eugene and the only film competition for its genre in the Western Hemisphere.

Tickets are $6.00 at the door. All proceeds go to support TAC Festival. More info:

January 11-12 and 18-19, 2013
Fifth Avenue Cinema, Portland State University

Portland, Oregon


Program A: Friday, January 11

• An Introduction to Contemporary Archaeology (UK) 9 min.

This short film is a short introduction (and a spoof!) to the new field of “contemporary archaeology.”  Dr. Brooklyn Honswoggle-Smythe, Buckinghamshire New University’s youngest and most brilliant Contemporologist, guides you through the ins and outs and back-ins of the world of contemporary archaeology—the new subject everyone’s talking about!  Did you know archaeologists could laugh about themselves?  Or should this gibe at the modern theoretitician be taken seriously at some level?  (Honorable Mention by jury in Best Film competition and for Narration, Public Education Value, and Inspiration; Special Mention by jury for most innovative representation of archaeology)
• The Lord of Sipan (Spain) 52 min.
This is the story of a Great Lord of the Moche culture, who was buried with honors so that his message would endure in time, and an archaeologist named Walter Alva, who rescued this Lord from his tomb to fulfill his ancient plan.  The Moche culture developed on the northern coast of Peru between 100 BC and AD 400.  It is a mysterious culture that disappeared shortly after reaching its peak. Today, everyone has heard of the Moche, thanks to the discoveries made during the last two decades. The discoveries continue, and this unique civilization still surprises the world.  (Audience Favorite)
• The Tomb of the Hidden Mummies (Greece) 10 min.
In 1871, in the cliffs of Deir El Behri near the village of Qurna, not far from Luxor in Egypt, a young boy called Ahmed El-Rassul accidentally discovered a hidden tomb in a mountain near his home.  Ahmed and his family looted the tomb for over a decade until their activities became known to the Egyptian antiquities service.  When archaeologists arrived, they were stunned by what they saw: more than fifty royal mummies.  This discovery had a profound impact on what was known of Egyptian history and reminded everyone that looting has been an Egyptian nemesis for thousands of years.  (Honorable Mention by jury in Animation and Effects)
• A Gift from Talking God (USA) 30 min.
To the Navajo people of the American Southwest, “sheep is life.”  The Navajo-Churro sheep is the original breed, which has sustained the Navajo, Pueblo, and Hispanic people for 400 years.  On the verge of extinction a generation ago, the Navajo-Churro is making a comeback to the Navajo people.  The Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity recognizes the breed as a culturally and genetically important animal, worthy of international recognition.  This film offers a portrait of rarely seen traditional Navajo lifeways and sustainable herding practices in the remote Arizona-New Mexico homeland.  (Honorable Mention by Audience in Audience Favorite competition)
• A Treasure of Gold (Greece) 9 min.
In the 1970s, near the village of Aidonia, in the Greek municipality of Nemea, a mule fell into a hole.  Upon rescuing the animal, villagers discovered a rare golden treasure buried amidst a group of skeletons.  A few years later, archaeologists arrived at the looted site.  Sixteen of the 18 tombs already had been emptied, but a small stash of jewelry had been overlooked by the tomb robbers.  Later, a collection of Mycenaean jewelry went up for sale at an auction house in New York City.  This is the story of the plunder of Mycenaean tombs and of the recovery of a treasure made of gold.
Program B: Saturday,  January 12

• Etruscan Odyssey: Expanding Archaeology (USA) 17 min.
The early Mediterranean civilization of Etruria flourished for a thousand years and then vanished, leaving art and artifacts, but little trace of its history.  After decades of painstaking work, archaeologists now are beginning to piece together a fascinating portrait of daily life in Etruscan society.  Etruscan Odyssey engages viewers with a brief historical background utilizing stunning images of artifacts from the finest known collections of Etruscan art.  These works highlight the expert aesthetic and technical prowess of the Etruscans, which continues to inspire a desire to find out more about the lost culture at the heart of the Mediterranean tradition.
• The Fate of Old Beijing (China) 20 min.
In the face of China’s rapid modernization, the country is struggling to preserve its cultural heritage, and nowhere is this more visible than in the ancient alleyways and courtyards of Beijing.  The hutongs are more than simply housing: they are a way of life.  The communal aspect to life within the hutongs means that few residents want to leave—even as their neighborhoods are being demolished and redeveloped.  This film explores the vanishing world of Beijing’s hutongs, the realities of life within those narrow streets, and the future for these culturally irreplaceable areas.
• Bitter Roots  (USA) 71 min.
Bitter Roots puts to rest a Kalahari Myth.  Set in Nyae-Nyae, a region of Namibia in southern Africa’s Kalahari desert, traditional home of the Ju’hoansi, Bitter Roots observes the erosion of a community-led development process in Nyae-Nyae following an imposition of a new agenda by the World Wildlife Fund, which prioritizes wildlife conservation and tourism over subsistence farming.  The film sensitively examines the problems facing the Ju’hoansi, challenging the myth that they are culturally unable to farm.  The film investigates how the Ju’hoansi cope with the expectations of tourists and filmakers while steadfastly continuing to farm against all odds.  (Special Mention by jury for best representation of cultural change; Honorable Mention by jury for Public Education Value)
Program C: Friday, January 18

• Mémère Métisse (Canada) 30 min.
For over sixty years, Cecile St. Amant has been keeping a deep secret: she is Métis (Canadian aboriginal group of mixed First Nations and European heritage).  Cecile’s granddaughter sets out to understand her Mémère’s (grandmother’s) denial and playfully plots her own mission to open her Mémère’s eyes to the richness of her heritage.  She soon realizes that her Mémère will not be easily convinced that being Métis is something to be proud of.  Her persistent prodding reveals a generation’s legacy of shame and the profound courage of the human spirit to overcome it.  (Honorable Mention by jury for Inspiration)
• Robert Blake and the Civil War Sieges of Taunton (UK) 12 min.
Be prepared for a truly fresh look at the exploits of English Parliamentarian commander Robert Blake under Oliver Cromwell during the first English Civil War.  From July 1664 to July 1665, the city of Taunton, the only Parliamentery enclave in the southwest of England, led by Colonel Blake, held out against the Royalist forces led by Lord Goring.  Blake, who went on to become a legendary admiral, famously declared that he had four pairs of boots and would eat three pairs before he would surrender.  This film relates the archaeology and history of the period as well as Blake’s influence.  (Best Narration and Best Music by jury; Honorable Mention by jury in Script, Cinematography, and in Best Film competition)
• Ramesses the Second: The Great Journey (France) 63 min.
Under the reign of Ramesses the Second, pharaoh of the New Empire’s 19th Dynasty, Egypt was living the final hours of its golden age.  After a reign of 67 years, the powerful emperor died at the age of 92.  He became the legendary “Ramesses the Great.”  His mummy was interred in the heart of the Valley of the Kings, on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes, marking the beginning of his Great Journey towards the afterlife on the condition that his tomb be preserved for all time.  (Best Animation and Effects by Jury; Honorable Mention by jury in Best Film competition, Public Education Value, Script, Cinematography, Music, and in Audience Favorite competition)
Program D: Saturday, January 19

• The Renaissance of Mata Ortiz (USA) 54 min.
When anthropologist Spencer MacCallum bought three pieces of pottery from a second-hand store in Deming, New Mexico, in 1976, he had no idea that he was about to begin a journey that would lead to the revival of an ancient art form.  In Mata Ortiz, México, MacCallum partnered with self-taught artist Juan Quezada and slowly created an industry that today is known world-wide.  The Renaissance of Mata Ortiz tells the improbable story of how Quezada and MacCallum both experienced creative and personal breakthroughs which led to dazzling, innovating works by Quezada and a passing of the torch to younger, award-winning artists such as Diego Valles.  (Best Script and Most Inspirational by jury; Honorable Mention by jury in Best Film competition, Narration, Public Education Value, Cinematography, and Music; Honorable Mention by audience in Audience Favorite competition; Special Mention by jury for best representation of sustainability of cultural change)
• The Hobbit Enigma (Australia) 52 min.
This dynamic film examines one of the greatest controversies in science today: what did scientists find when they uncovered the tiny, human-like skeleton of a strange creature, known to many as the Hobbit, on the Indonesian island of Flores in 2003?  Are the bones a previously unknown and bizarre primitive species of human?  The Hobbit discovery forces us to rethink some of the most fundamental questions of human origins. With exclusive access to ongoing interdisciplinary research and new fieldwork, this is a comprehensive account of a startling new view of human evolution.  (Best Film, Best Cinematography and Best Public Education Value by jury;  Honorable Mention by jury for Narration, Animation and Effects, Script, and Inspiration; Special Mention by jury for best representation of archaeology)

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