In 1961, archaeologist and Penn State anthropology professor William T. Sanders traveled to México’s Teotihuacán Valley to film "Land and Water," an ecological study of the region and its land-use practices just prior to the massive urban expansion of Mexico City.
Nearly 60 years later, another Penn State-led team returned for a look back at the original film and the drastic environmental and cultural changes that have occurred since Sanders' film.
The resulting documentary, "Land and Water Revisited," will premiere at 7 p.m. Friday through a livestream on YouTube from The State Theatre.
Producers Kirk French, Elijah Hermitt and Neal Hutcheson will introduce the 58-minute film and after the showing will host a 30-45 minute Q&A that will include two Mexican families from the original 1962 film, who will be connecting virtually. Questions will be taken from the YouTube Live comments.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event is livestream only and The State Theatre will not be open to the public.
French, an assistant professor of anthropology at Penn State is the film's writer and director. Hermitt, a videographer and 2018 Penn State graduate in anthropology, is editor and director of photography. Hutcheson, an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, handled camera and audio.
Centre County musician Chris Rattie created the film's music.
"This was an important step because the people of the Teotihuacán Valley had never seen the film," French said in an email. "By setting up public viewings in the communities throughout the valley, we were able to connect with many residents and interview them about the changes that have taken place over the last 60 years. We even met family members of the participants in the 1962 film. These were often emotionally powerful moments."
"Land and Water Revisited" not only documents the problems of unregulated urban growth, but also tells the stories of how the people of the valley have adapted and changed.
"Cultural conservation was not the intention of the original film, but it is a sobering reminder of how quickly traditional landscapes and cultural adaptations vanish when sustainability is ignored," French said.
The film also includes interviews with scholars about the role humans have played, past and present, in altering the environment, as well as a look at researchers are doing today to answer complex questions about sustainability.
"Land and Water Revisited" was originally scheduled to premiere in April at the Society of American Archaeology meeting, but was postponed because of COVID-19.
WHAT: "Land and Water Revisited" premiere
WHERE: YouTube Live (introduction and Q&A streamed from The State Theatre)
WHEN:7 p.m. Friday, July 24
WHO:Producers Kirk French, Elijah Hermitt and Neal Hutcheson will host a 15-minute introduction. Following the virtual screening of the film, they will host a Q&A including members of two families from the original "Land and Water."