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Review: Documentary ‘The Anthropologist’ looks at mothers and daughters, culture and climate change

Susie Crate, left, and daughter Katie Yegorov-Crate in the documentary "The Anthropologist."
(Ironbound films Inc.)

The utterly winning documentary “The Anthropologist” takes a unique perspective on the field of anthropology through the lens of a pair of female anthropologists and their daughters. Margaret Mead’s daughter, Mary Catherine Bateson, provides context and running commentary on her mother’s work and the role of the anthropologist, while the film follows environmental anthropologist Susie Crate and her teen daughter Katie as they cross the globe doing field work.

Directed by Seth Kramer, Daniel A. Miller and Jeremy Newberger, the film has a bright style and energetic pace. We follow along as Susie and Katie travel from their home state of Virginia to Siberia, Kiribati and Peru, studying how climate change and culture work in concert. Their story serves as the embodiment of the concepts that Bateson describes in her interview.

There’s a grand tradition of the female anthropologist, heralded by Mead, and the film uncovers the unique qualities that these particular women bring to participant observation: empathy, direct questioning, a zealous sense of curiosity and a willingness to both listen to the people and share some of themselves.

As Susie sends Katie off to college, her message is that we can’t change the world, we can only change ourselves, and hopefully the world changes alongside us.

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‘The Anthropologist’

In English, Russian, Sakha, Kiribati, Spanish and Quechua with English subtitles.

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 18 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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