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Digging for Documentaries: The best of the Archaeology Film Fest Series comes to Bend 

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After attending the first weekend of the Archaeology Film Fest Series, having not considered archaeology much since metal detectors were all the rage in 1990s England, I second a statement that I found on the website of the Archaeological Legacy Institute: Archaeology is humanity's rearview mirror - enabling a much better understanding of our place and time in the world. The films chosen by the local Archaeological Society are mind-expanding and inspirational. They transport you not only to other lands but outside of yourself, providing endlessly nourishing visuals, information and insight.

The Archaeology Channel is a website packed with documentaries on ancient and present cultures across the world and provides the basis for Eugene's Archaeology Channel Film and Video Festival, and its offshoot the Archeology Fest Film Series, which kicked off this past weekend at Central Oregon Community College and continues this weekend. Two of last weekend's movies, From Grief And Joy We Sing and The Twilight of the Celts went well beyond what uninitiated audiences might expect from an archeology-based film festival.

In From Grief And Joy We Sing, producer Holly Wissler presents the musical traditions of the Quechua community of Q'eros in the Andes of Peru. We follow the Quechua people through a year in the mountains and see the rituals they have developed around their relationship with their environment, like the llamas and alpacas that are essentially family members, the medicinal flowers and the crops of corn. The group's survival is a struggle against both the harsh Andes elements, and the march of modernity that sees the younger generation find solace in the city life of Lima.

The Twilight of the Celts details the discovery of a Celtic sanctuary in Switzerland, a place where the Celts would offer sacrifices to their gods in the form of objects, animals and even human body parts. The film shows the creative side of archaeology off-site when the findings become speculative stories about the ways of such ancient peoples. Two cracked human skulls are central to furthering theories regarding the Celts' blood thirst. Their anticipation and enthusiasm is infectious, and the scenes around the sanctuary are creepier than anything you could make up.

Showing at COCC on Friday, February 26 will be Borneo: The Memory of Caves and The Last Romans. The former centers on the discovery of a rock art site 10,000 years old in the tropical rainforest of Borneo, the latter on the city of Sagalassos in Turkey, which is brought to life in illustration of how Greco-Roman civilization looked in Late Antiquity. Both films were award-winners at last year's festival.

On Saturday, February 27, there will be Breaking The Mayan Code. The Maya hieroglyphic script was, until recently, the last writing system to be deciphered. Based on a best-selling book, the documentary reveals the efforts undergone from Guatemala to Russia, at Mayan temples and Madrid libraries to break the code. This film was voted Best Film and Audience Favorite in 2009.

Archeology Fest Film Series

7pm, Friday and Saturday, February 26 and 27. Central Oregon Community College, Boyle Education Center, Room 0155. 2600 College Way, Bend. $6.


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