With only about 2,500 members, the Moken people form one of the smallest ethnic groups in Asia. These nomadic, seafaring people use nets and spears to fish, and they barter for material goods at markets where they live on the coasts of Burma and Thailand. For about eight months of the year, they live in temporary thatch huts, spending the rest of time in small, hand-crafted wooden boats.
A documentary on the Moken, “Sailing a Sinking Sea,” will help launch the Rural Route Film Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image on Friday with director Olivia Owens Wyatt in person. This eleventh annual, three-day event focuses on life in isolated areas with 19 films from 16 different countries.
This year’s theme is strong, independent women (behind and in front of the camera). In the Argentine movie “Dog Lady,” a nameless woman lives in a shack outside Buenos Aires. Without speaking or spending money, she cares for a pack of dogs, scavenges for food and water, and experiences a sexual encounter.
The production “Edén” is based on director Elise DuRant’s childhood in the 1980s. A nine-year-old girl is forced to leave Mexico with her artifact-smuggling father. Years later, her father dies, and she returns home to confront the man responsible for their emigration while realizing her new cultural identity. DuRant will attend this screening on Sunday, and the all-female band Mariachi Flor de Toloache will perform.
There’s also an emphasis on music this year. Barbara Oldham, a founding member of the Jackson Heights-based Quintet of the Americas, will play the alphorn during the opening night party atop Brooklyn Grange Rooftop Farm in Long Island City on Friday. The next day, the Main Squeeze Orchestra, an all-female accordion troupe, will perform before Funny Bunny, a comedy about a love triangle involving a farm activist.
Also, on Saturday, the festival will debut the world premiere of “Down Down the Deep River,” an experimental narrative about growing up in New Hampshire by Will Sheff of indie band Okkervil River. Sheff will perform before the motion picture and participate in a Q&A afterward.