Image from "Freedom Fields," directed by Naziha Arebi.
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This year the Mead Festival adopts the theme of “Breaking the Narrative,” presenting stories that actively disrupt stereotypical representations of cultures. Visitors can sample 44 timely documentaries from around the world—covering topics ranging from refugees at our southern border, to voter suppression in North Carolina, to Libyan women soccer players struggling for recognition. Opening night is the New York premiere of “Freedom Fields,” directed by Naziha Arebi. The film introduces us to the members of a Libyan women’s soccer team born in the utopian hopes of the Arab Spring. Some women move on, becoming mothers and professionals, while others heroically hold on to their soccer dreams.

Highlights of the Festival: 

  • Raúl O. Paz Pastrana’s Border South explores what we can learn about the lives of people journeying the 2,300-mile-long North American migrant trail through the artifacts they leave behind. (N.Y. Premiere)
  • Let the People Decide by Gavin Guerra plunges headlong into the current voter ID debate in North Carolina. Follow a new generation of activists in all-too-familiar territory—fighting laws they believe were specifically enacted to intimidate and disenfranchise African Americans at the polls. (U.S. Premiere)
  • Erica Gornall’s Saudi Women’s Driving School introduces us to the largest driving school complex in the world. For many Americans, getting a driver’s license can seem like a mundane rite of passage. But for women in Saudi Arabia it’s a critical step along the road to independence and an act of feminist resistance. (U.S. Premiere)
  • Can humanoid robots be our friends? This is the central question of Hi AI, directed by Isa Willinger. Scientists and tech visionaries believe that artificially intelligent robots will become an integral part of everyday life. See how early adopters are connecting with these complex AIs as people. (U.S. Premiere)