No droning hypotheses about Neanderthal hunting-gathering, or excruciating analyses of the shifting design patterns in Etruscan pottery here. These films suggest that the study of basic culture is a field full of partisanship and controversy, and of relevance.
Better still, they're free. Tickets to the screenings, which are held in pairs, one at 6:30 p.m. and one at 8 p.m., for three consecutive Wednesdays in the center's Irene P. Flinn Theater, are gratis, available on first-come, first-served basis. These are the scheduled films:
Wednesday, September 8:
6:30 p.m.: Cracks in the Mask -- The film is an exploration of the conflict between ethnographic museums and the rights of indigenous peoples to reclaim their communities' artifacts.
8 p.m.: Skin's Sorrow -- The bereavement over the loss of pets which leads some people to have their animals preserved through taxidermy is the theme of this film.
Wednesday, September 15:
6:30 p.m.: From Sand to Celluloid -- The three shorts in this program, Milerum, Whose Story?, Night Patrol and The Dreaming, are unified by the theme of the "repatriation and the transmission of cultural heritage in Australia."
8 p.m.: Bread Day and The Bathhouse -- The first half of this double bill examines a community of impoverished pensioners at a settlement outside St. Petersburg, Russia. The second explores the lives of elderly patrons of a bathhouse in Lithuania.
Wednesday, September 22:
6:30 p.m.: Pepino Mango Nance and Black Tears -- Music is the theme of this double bill. The former film traces the cultural influences on a young Chicano composer. The latter, in the vein of Buena Vista Social Club, is La Vieja Trova Santiaguera (The Old Troubadours), a quintet of aging Cuban musicians.
8 p.m.: The festival concludes with a repeat screening of Bread Day and The Bathhouse.
Various academic big shots will introduce the films and/or talk about them afterward. Go anyway.
The Irene P. Flinn Theater is located at Arizona Science Center, 600 East Washington. Call 602-716-2000 for more information.