Agave is Life

Meredith Dreiss and David O. Brown's film, Agave is Life, is the inspiration for our festival. The film, which was released in 2014, has won numerous awards and has screened at many film festivals.

Still from  Agave is Life

Still from Agave is Life

Here's the film summary from the filmmakers:

Agave Is Life  unveils the 10,000 year-old story of mankind's symbiotic relationship with the agave plant. Once a critical resource for survival among hunter and gatherers living in the arid regions of the American Southwest and Mexico, we learn how agave later became embedded in myth, religion, art, and culture. For these indigenous peoples, it was truly a gift from the gods.

While contemporary consumers may only recognize it as the source of tequila, they will soon discover that for millennia this hardy desert succulent provided all life's necessities:  food, drink, textiles, fuel, shelter, and medicines.  Yet, as the film demonstrates, agave faces an uncertain future. Ancient folkways, from fiber craftsmanship to traditional alcoholic pulque and mescal production,  are rapidly disappearing today. While entrepreneurs and scientists work to turn the tide, the loss of diversity of both cultivated and wild agave species may be the ultimate arbitrator.

Agave Is Life  is visually enriched by stunning aerial footage, ancient festivals, and mystical rock art. It has been accepted in the 2014 Rassegna Internazionale del Cinema Archeologico Film Festival in Italy. Narrated by Edward James Olmos, with original music by Alcvin Ryzen Ramos, it promises to enlighten, delight, and surprise.


David O. Brown holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin and has labored for more than 35 years as a professional archaeologist and anthropologist, authoring scores of articles, professional papers and technical reports on the archaeology and cultures of Texas and surrounding areas as well as the central and northern Andean region of South America. In addition to extensive experience in field investigations and research in several regions, he has taught at universities in Texas and Ecuador. In recent years, he has worked closely with partner Meredith Dreiss in the production of the documentary film Agave is Life. He assisted in a number of roles for the film, serving as director and music coordinator, as well as helping with research, scriptwriting and editing.

Meredith Dreiss holds an M.A. in Anthropology with a specialization in Mayan Archaeology.  She is currently a Research Fellow at The Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory at The University of Texas at Austin and is President of ArcheoProductions, Inc.  Her company develops and produces anthropology-related educational projects. The documentary film, Chocolate Pathway to the Gods, was produced in 2005 and later became the title of an academic book, co authored with Sharon Edgar Greenhill, and published in 2008 by the University of Arizona Press.  Her current documentary film, Agave is Life, explores 10,000 years of a unique human-plant symbiosis. Meredith also sits on the Board of Directors of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation which funds sustainability projects.

Caitlin Murray