Section XI: Reimagining and Reinventing Culture 

Track 8: Documentary Films
John  Forney, chair

 Documentary films have replaced investigative journalism as the means of communicating the deeper truth about current events and the world.  This track will consist in discussion about this new form of communication, the showing of examples, and discussion.

Film Schedule
All films shown in Hahn 101,
Pomona College

Thursday – June 4: 9 AM-5 PM 

       Years of Living Dangerously – the seven episodes of this Emmy award-winning series will be showing throughout the day, with an hour off for lunch break. Years of Living Dangerously explores the damage to the planet stemming from global warming. It features such notables as Thomas Friedman, Harrison Ford, Lesley Stahl, Matt Damon and Arnold Schwartzenegger. Brought to the screen by Showtime, it has superb production values.


Friday – June 5

11-12:30 PM: Section XI plenary lecture: Luke Higgins, “But is it True?”—Smith Campus Center Theater.

1:30-3 PM –“When Heaven Meets Earth: The Plight of the Chesapeake Watermen.” Jeffrey Pohorski, Producer. A deeply religious community, the watermen of the Chesapeake Bay community on Tangier Island, nevertheless were polluting and exploiting the bay, setting up a conflict with the environmentalists of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. This film tells how a faith based graduate student, Susan Drake Emmerich, worked with the community to bring their practice into line with the values implied in their religious commitments. A Telly and Aurora Award PBS documentary. “…a great introduction to Community Organizing 101.”–John Forney.

3:30-4 PM: Coffee Break

3:30-5 PM – Hellfire: A Journey from Hiroshima. A film by John Junkman and John Dower. This documentary features Iri and Toshi Maruki, the atomic artists of Japan, and tells the story of how they came to paint the impact of the bomb—and beyond. “One of the world’s most powerful and sustained expressions of the effect of the atomic bomb,” says the New York Times. According to the poet Denise Levertov, this is one of the best peace education films every made. A project of the Film Fund and Madison Campus Ministry. Nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary category in 1987.


Saturday – June 6

 11 AM-12:30 PM: – American Winter: In the Richest Country on Earth, Millions of Families Have Been Left Out in the Cold. This film relates an intimate, up close and devastating portrait of what has happened to working class Americans in the era of “trickle-down economics.” It is a realistic portrait of the lives of the 40 percent of Americans struggling in poverty or near-poverty. It demonstrates like few films what is happening to ordinary people living in an era when the “game is rigged” and there is little hope of getting out from under crushing debt and massive layoffs. Winner, Bending Toward Justice Award.

2-3:30 PM – “HOME” — a feature film by French photographer, Yann Arthus-Bertrand

In the past 200,000 years, humans have upset the balance of planet Earth, a balance established by nearly four billion years of evolution.  We must act now.  It is too late to be a pessimist — the price is too high.  Humanity has little time to reverse the trend and change its patterns of consumption. Through visually stunning footage from over fifty countries, shot entirely from an aerial perspective, photographer Yann Arthus–Bertrand shows us a view most of us have never seen.  He shares with us his sense of awe about our planet and his concern for its health.  With this film, Arthus-Bertrand hopes to provide a stepping-stone to further the call to action to take care of our HOME.

3:30-4 PM: Coffee Break

4-5:30 PM – Inequality for All. Jacob Kornbluth, Director. Featuring former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, this film focuses on the devastating effect of income inequality in the US, documenting the disparity with facts and humor, but he doesn’t leave us there. He presents realistic prescriptions for moving America forward so that all share in the incredible wealth that we as a society have generated over these past several decades. A must see, for those who have not seen this film.


Sunday, June 7

11-12:30 PM – Howard Zinn: You Can’t be Neutral on a Moving Train. Deb Ellis and Denis Mueller, Directors. The life and times of Howard Zinn: the historian, activist, and author of several classics including “A Peoples History of the United States”. Archival footage, and commentary by friends, colleagues and Zinn himself. As the Boston Herald has proclaimed, “Before Michael Moore, there was Howard Zinn.”  This film is the portrayal of one of the most prominent organizers of the late 20th century. Through his writing and activism he helped change the consciousness of his time. 

2-3:30 PM — Consuming Kids: the Commercialization of Childhood. Adriana Barbaro and Jeremy Earp, Directors. This  film focuses on the explosive growth of child marketing, using the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world. Every parent and grand parent should see what is being sold to our kids and to their families.Through a relentless barrage of ads our children are being manipulated to believe that happiness only comes through having more stuff.

3:30-4 PM: Coffee Break

4-5:30 PM — Call of Life: Facing the Mass Extinction. Monte Thompson, Director. As the world warms and the seas acidify, we are moving toward the extinction of fifty percent of all life forms on the planet. As a result of human activities, especially our addiction to fossil fuels, we have created a crisis in nature. As a result of the crisis we have started, we are aware as never before of the fragility of  life and our place in it.  A film by the Species Alliance. John Muir Award, Yosemite Film Festival, and Best Science Communication Film, Reel Earth Festival, New Zealand.