The American Museum of Natural History's Margaret Mead Film Festival, occurring December 4–6, 2020, screens documentaries that increase our understanding of the complexity and diversity of the peoples and cultures that populate our planet. The festival has evolved with the times while maintaining its important history and has grown steadily to reflect ever-evolving incarnations of storytelling, technology and growing access to communities near and far.

Hundreds of filmmakers and scholars, thousands of moviegoers, and over 40 international nonfiction films and media converge over three days of screenings, conversations, and parties. The Mead aims to connect viewers to cultures and communities around the world, creating empathy and understanding through visual media.

The Margaret Mead Filmmaker Award recognizes documentary filmmakers who embody the spirit, energy, and innovation demonstrated by anthropologist Margaret Mead in her research, fieldwork, films, and writings.

The award is given by a jury of scholars, filmmakers, and film industry veterans to a filmmaker whose feature-length (60-minutes or more) documentary displays artistic excellence and originality of storytelling technique while offering a new perspective on a culture or community. Filmmakers with works making their U.S. premieres at the festival are eligible.