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ArchaeologyFest Film Series: Best of 2013

To our friends in and near Portland: The best archaeology-related films in the world are coming to Portland, starting Friday night, January 10. This is our annual event, ArchaeologyFest Film Series:Best of 2013! Please come to see some outstanding films and help us support TAC Festival 2014 by enjoying our PSU mini-Festival at the Fifth Avenue Cinema in Portland for four evenings (a different 2-hour show each evening), Friday, January 10; Saturday, January 11; Friday, January 17: and Saturday, January 18. These are the top films from The Archaeology Channel International Film Festival that took place in Eugene last May. All of them are award-winners from this international competition. And it's just six bucks for two hours of sheer enjoyment. Read on below for more details on the schedule and films. Please spread the word where you can.
Doors open at 7 pm and programs begin at 7:30 pm on dates indicated. Admission $6. Tickets at the door. These are the best films from the 2013 edition of TAC Festival. (The 2014 edition of TAC Festival takes place in the Recital Hall at The Shedd Institute and at the Baker Downtown Center in downtown Eugene, May 9-13, 2013.)

Program A: Friday, January 10• Lost Cities of the Amazon (USA) 50 min.
The Amazon is the largest tropical rain forest on the planet, seemingly untouched by man until the Twentieth Century. But today, science is peeling back the canopy to reveal an untold history, one in which great swathes of the dense jungle were once gardens and farms, successfully managed by a huge and organized civilization. This new evidence leads one wonder if the old legends of lost cities might be based in truth. This film reconstructs conquistador Francesco de Orellana's epic journey in search of the mythical city of gold: El Dorado. Today, archaeologist Eduardo Neves has found more than a hundred ancient sites in the central Amazon and, with the aid of satellite photographs, archaeologist Professor Michael Heckenerger has unveiled a complex of huge villages. This ancient society lived in a way similar to that of the Kuikuro tribe living in the area today. (Honorable Mention by Jury for Cinematography and for Inspiration)

• Mysteries of the Ancient Architects (USA) 52 min.
Beginning over 2000 years ago, enormous earthworks were built along Ohio's Scioto River, all constructed on a grand scale with intriguing precision. Many were designed as combinations of giant geometric squares, circles, and octagons. Amazingly, the earthworks seem to adhere to a master architectural design, the earthen signature of a bygone culture. We will never know what these people called themselves, but today the ancient builders are known to archaeologists as the Hopewell Culture. These people had neither towns nor villages. But they did have big ideas and advanced understandings of geometry and astronomy to carry them out. The mysteries persist. Yet, here, we find a tantalizing glimpse into a way of life that resulted in monuments of earth that challenge the imagination. (Best Animation and Effects by Jury; Honorable Mention by Jury for Public Education Value and for Cinematography)

Program B: Saturday, January 11
I Remember, I Believe (USA) 33 min.
I Remember, I Believe tells the story of the Avondale Burial Place, an African-American burial ground discovered by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) during planning for the Sardis Church Road Extension Project. The trauma found on the bones, the large number of infant and children burials, and the protective charm artifacts found with the bodies tell a story of the difficulties of tenant life. All are evidence of their hardships. I Remember, I Believe looks at the history of African-American tenancy and the Great Migration through the legacy of an archaeological site and 101 burials and visually describes a descendant community's discovery of their past. (Best Script and Best Music by Jury; Honorable Mention by Jury in Best Film competition and for Public Education Value, Cinematography, and Inspiration)

• Mi Chacra (My Land) (Peru) 100 min.
A young indigenous Peruvian man and his wife and son have farmed most of their lives in a small village in the mountains above the Sacred Valley. Like many, he believes that life in the city would be better than his village life. At sixteen, he left for the city, but when his father died, had to return to his village to work and care for his family. Now he has a young son of his own and, like his father, desires to see his son study in the city and become something more than he has become. Interwoven with the complex history of a people, this story paints a vivid picture of this man's life, the conflict between his love of the land and the work he has learned from his father, and the desire to see his son living what he sees as a better life in the city.(Honorable Mention by Jury for Animation and Effects).

Program C: Friday, January 17
• Ethiopia: In the Footsteps of the First Christians (France) 53 min.
Northern Ethiopia is the birthplace of Ethiopian Christianity, a religion practiced by almost half of the country's 80 million people. In the northern province of Tigray lies a remote territory dedicated completely to the monastic life, the Waldeba. The Waldeba is home to about a thousand monks and hermits that lead secluded lives of abstinence, fasting and prayer. For these religious people, dying in Waldeba is the way to gain direct access to heaven. In this film, the first documentary on the region, François Le Cadre goes to Waldeba to observe the religious practices of the monks and learn about Saint Samuel, the founder of the most important regional monastery called "the land of the monks." (Best Cinematography by Jury; Honorable Mention by Jury in Best Film competition and for Narration, Public Educatiion Value, Script, and Music)

• 6 Generations (USA) 57 min.
Ernestine De Soto is a Chumash Native American whose mother, Mary Yee, was the last speaker of her native Barbareño language. In 6 Generations, she tells her family history, reaching back to the days when the Spanish made first contact in Santa Barbara. Famous anthropologist John Peabody Harrington, whose work focused on native peoples of California, started research with her family in 1913 and continued with three generations for nearly 50 years. This inspired Ernestine's mother to begin taking notes and, combined with mission records (which survived intact from the late 1700s), they form the heart of this story. The impact of loss of land, language, culture, and life itself is made all the more clear as this story is told in Native American voices describing the events as they experienced them. Ultimately, it is a story of survival and the fierce endurance of Ernestine's ancestors, particularly the women. (Honorable Mention by jury in Best Film competition and for Narration, Public Education Value, Script, Music, and Inspiration; Special Mention by Jury for increasing the awareness of the ethnographic record; Honorable Mention in Audience Favorite competition)

Program D: Saturday, January 18
• Unburying the Past (Malaysia) 46 min.
Malaysia's archaeological heritage stretches back more than a million years. This ancient culture has attracted world attention in exhibitions abroad and in the media for the last two decades. Sites all over the country have revealed their ancient secrets, providing important evidence on Malaysia's earliest habitation sites. This documentary explores Malaysia's most important sites and their link to the rest of the world. It showcases Southeast Asia's oldest nearly complete Paleolithic human skeleton, the iconic Perak Man, whose discovery also has caught the attention of medical archaeology as probably the earliest example of a congenital deformity. It also demonstrates how Malaysia has been connected over thousands of miles and thousands of years with other cultures in south and east Asia and the Pacific. (Best Narration and Best Public Education Value by Jury; Honorable Mention by Jury in Best Film competition and for Animation and Effects; Honorable Mention in Audience Favorite competition)

• The 2000 Year Old Computer (UK) 59 min.
More than a hundred years ago, sponge divers found an extraordinary mechanism at the bottom of the sea near the island of Antikythera. It astonished the international community of experts on the ancient world. Was it an astrolabe? Was it a mechanical model of the solar system? An astronomical clock? Or something else? This film tells the extraordinary story of how, more than 2,000 years ago, the ancient Greeks built a computer. A scientific detective investigation set against the glories of a classical Greece, The 2000 Year Old Computer follows a mysterious trail of numbers to solve the puzzle of the spectacular Antikythera Mechanism. (Best Film and Most Inspirational Film by jury; Honorable Mention by jury for Animation and Effects, Script, and Cinematography; Special Mention by jury for best representation of archaeology; Audience Favorite Film)

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