Raising Social Consciousness Through Film: A Cinema Series Addressing Moral IssuesAugust 3, 17, at 7:30 PM
Raising Social Consciousness Through Film: A Cinema Series Addressing Moral Issues
Mondays at 7:30 PM, August 17
sponsored by the Social Action Committee
Watch the films—all available on Netflix— before the discussion date, and then every two weeks, we will gather via Zoom to discuss the film.
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”—Robert Kennedy
Film can exert a powerful influence on how we see the world and the way we consider problems facing society. This summer, we will watch four films and discuss the problems they highlight and how they have affected our world view.
Monday, August 17, 7:30 PM
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, written, directed by and starring Chiwetel Ejiofor (201; 113 minutes; Netflix)
The film is based on the memoir The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer.
Born in Kasungu, Malawi, 13-year-old William Kamkwamba comes from a family of farmers who live in the nearby village of Wimbe. William also dabbles in fixing radios for his friends and neighbors and spends his free time looking through the local junkyard for salvageable electronic components. By the mid-2000s, failing crops due to drought and the resulting famine have devastated William’s village, leading to riots over government rationing and William’s family’s being robbed of their already meager grain stores. People soon begin abandoning the village, and William’s sister elopes with his former teacher in order to leave her family “one less mouth to feed.” Seeking to save his village, William invents an unconventional way to save his family and village from famine.
-The 13th, directed by Ava Duvernay (2016; 100 minutes; Netflix)
Ava DuVernay follows up her acclaimed film Selma with a searing documentary that looks at the mass incarceration of minorities following the passage of the 13th amendment. As the documentary points out, it’s not just ingrained cultural racism that results in the widespread incarceration of African-Americans and other minorities. There’s a financial incentive as well, and it’s good business to lock people up. The 13th systematically goes through the decades following the passage of the 13th amendment to show how black people were targeted by the media, by the government, and by businesses to create a new form of slavery. It is a movie that will infuriate you, depress you, and hopefully spur you to action against a system that has done egregious harm to our fellow citizens. – Matt Goldberg
-American Factory, directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert; executive producers Michelle and Barack Obama (2019; 110 minutes; Netflix)
American Factory (美国工厂; 美國工廠) is a 2019 American documentary film directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert. In this Sundance award-winning documentary, high-tech China clashes with working-class America when a Chinese billionaire repurposes a defunct GM plant in Dayton, Ohio, and hires 2,000 blue-collar workers, only for the two sides to struggle finding common ground. The new would-be savior is Fuyao Glass America, a Chinese windshield manufacturer that rehired about two-thirds of the 3,000 workers laid off by GM. However, the inclusion of hundreds of Chinese workers that Fuyao flew in to mix with the grateful Ohioans ends up becoming a source of great tension. Shot in an immersive cinema-verite style, American Factory reveals the absurd everyday conflicts that prevent the workers from cohering and the ensuing culture clash.
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim Lebrecht; executive producers Michelle and Barack Obama (2020; 108 minutes; Netflix)
Crip Camp shines a light on the individuals who spent most of their adult lives fighting for basic human rights, with many having attended a camp for disabled tends called Camp Jened in the 1970s. Incredible archival footage from this camp opens the film, but we then follow the various people we’ve met as they spend the next few decades embroiled in activism to pass legislation to make the world accessible for those with disabilities. It’s a fight that never should have had to be fought in the first place, and it’s both inspiring and infuriating to see how tirelessly these individuals had to push and push and push to affect even the tiniest bit of change. – Adam Chitwood