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Through These Eyes

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Tucked away in a Buffalo, New York, basement is all that remains of a grade school program from the 1970s. Man: A Course of Study (MACOS) looked to the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic to help American students see their own society in a new way. The program, which erupted in great controversy, would ultimately highlight the liberal spirit and the potent prejudices of the entire decade.

This riveting documentary reveals how an educational dream became a bitter political battle over cultural differences. MACOS was an innovative social sciences program designed to teach American children "what it was to be human." At its core was The Netsilik Film Series, an acclaimed benchmark of visual anthropology that captured a year in the life of an Inuit family living in the remote Canadian Arctic, reconstructing an ancient culture on the cusp of contact with the outside world. But the graphic images of the Netsilik people created a clash of values that tore rifts in communities across America and revealed a fragile relationship between politics and education. A fiery national debate ensued between academic and conservative forces.

Through These Eyes looks back at the high stakes of this controversial curriculum. Decades later, as American influence continues to affect cultures worldwide, the story of MACOS resonates strongly.

2004, 55 min 15 s

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