Tiffany Shlain’s film The Tribe asks how the daughter of Polish-Jewish immigrants, a woman named Ruth Handler, came to invent the Barbie doll in 1959. It answers this question by sifting through thousands of years of Jewish history in 15 image- and fact-filled minutes.

The film falls somewhere between avant-garde video and public service announcement, drawing on 1960s archival footage, spoken-word poetry, and dry but clever narration from actor Peter Coyote. The Tribe will be in competition next month at Sundance.