Film and Social Change

Discipline: Communication Studies
Instructor: TBD
Credits: 3

Field Work: Film and Social Change
Prerequisites: Must be of sophomore standing or higher.

In this globally-focused, upper-level course, we will:

  • SEE a variety of films from several different cultural locations;
  • ANALYZE these media “texts” within their sociopolitical, cultural, and historical “contexts;”
  • EVALUATE their social change impact and efficacy at raising awareness of specific issues, changing hearts and minds, or more direct political action; and
  • ARTICULATE ideas, reactions, and interpretations to film both orally and in writing.

This course is designed to introduce students to the ways in which the medium of film participates in efforts towards social change across the global landscape. Students will gain an understanding of the relationship between artistic expression, culturally-specific context, societal impact, and political efficacy in films addressing social change. We will watch narrative fiction as well as documentary films, many tied to the places we will visit on our Spring 2023 voyage.

Full-length films include work by filmmakers from across the globe: Fisher Stevens’ Before the Flood (USA), Ai Weiwei’s Never Sorry (China), Erroll Morris’ The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (Vietnam/USA), Amit Virmani’s Menstrual Man (India), Deborah Hoffman and Frances Reid’s Long Night’s Journey Into Day (South Africa/USA), Fernando Meirelles’ City of God (Brazil), Jehane Noujaim’s The Square (Egypt), and Ava Du Vernay’s 13th (USA). We will also view and discuss excerpts from an array of other films: Michael Patrick Kelly’s Operation Lysistrata (USA), Justin Chadwick’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (South Africa/USA) and Clint Eastwood’s Invictus (USA/South Africa), Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching for Sugarman (Sweden/United Kingdom/Finland), Gillo Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria), Megan Mylan and Jon Shenk’s Lost Boys of Sudan (Sudan/USA), Ferid Boughedir’s Halfaouine Child of the Terraces (Tunisia), Raoul Peck’s I Am Not Your Negro (USA), and Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop (United Kingdom).

We will see films (in and outside of class), engage in a rigorous dissection of the films in class discussion, and write short responses to the films we see.

Field Work