Folklife Friday is a weekly digest of arts and culture articles, podcasts, and videos from across the web. Read on for a selection of the week’s best cultural heritage pieces, and don’t forget to check back next Friday for a new set of weekly picks.
Review: In ‘The Eagle Huntress,’ a Girl from Mongolia Soars
Central Asian snow peaks and swooping aerial shots set the scene for The Eagle Huntress, a new documentary from Otto Bell about Aisholpan, a 13-year-old Kazakh girl whose passion for eagle hunting, a traditionally male practice, brings her face-to-face with the harsh surroundings of far western Mongolia. “In form and content,” A. O. Scott writes in the New York Times, “this is a film that expands your sense of what is possible.”
Melanie Joly’s fight for Canadian culture is neither easy nor popular
In the age of Netflix and other streaming services, the responsibility to protect cultural programming, and the broader industries it supports, falls on people like Melanie Joly, the Minister of Canadian Heritage, who last week visited Paris to discuss how the country can maintain its cultural sovereignty at a time when streaming services drive markets. “This is not a Canadian cultural question,” Kate Taylor of the Globe and Mail explains, “but an international issue of both creativity and fairness.”
Born to Sing the Gospel
In a new work from Dust to Digital, music critic Michael Corcoran sheds new light on Washington Phillips, a gospel musician from Texas whose career in the late 1920s remains shrouded in mystery. Among the characteristics Corcoran examines in the essay are Phillips’s assurance and vulnerability. “Listening to Phillips, you sense that his confidence didn’t come easily,” Max Nelson writes in the New York Review of Books. “He had to keep reminding himself of the consolations he preached.”
A Viral Video of Bhangra-Dancing Sikhs Shoveling Snow is Bringing Holiday Cheer to the Internet
Canada’s Maritime Bhangra Group earlier this month released a video of bhangra dancing and snow-shoveling that’s taken the internet by storm—no pun intended. The two-minute-long video, filmed in a Halifax parking lot, was originally posted to the group’s Facebook page with a call to support the ALS Society of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, a non-profit that supports ALS research.
The Potter’s Magic Fingers
In this Harvard archaeology course, students are learning clay and pottery-making techniques from tradition bearers such as Wilma Tosa, a Native American potter based in Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico. The hands-on course is part of a broader curricula grounded in experimentation and cultural understanding. “We shouldn’t confuse it with a hobby or something that’s not academic,” Matt Liebmann, associate professor of the social sciences and co-teacher of the course, explained. “It’s important to use their hands as well as their brains in learning how these artifacts were made.”
Special thanks to Fred Knittel, Maya Potter, and Rori Smith for their contributions to this week’s Folklife Friday digest.