Humanities Institute

Announcing New Lineup for the Controversy & Conversation Documentary Film Screening Series

Thu, April 20, 2017
Announcing New Lineup for the Controversy & Conversation Documentary Film Screening Series
Controversy & Conversation Screenings, June-November 2017

The Humanities Institute is excited to announce that we have selected, in cooperation with the Austin Public Library, a series of new titles to screen at our Controversy & Conversation documentary film screening series!

The new titles address a wide range of topics, including corporate encroachment on private lands, income inequality, campus sexual assault, net neutrality, and prison reform.

The new lineup will kick off on July 6, 2017 with ABOVE ALL ELSE, a firsthand account of activists on the front line of the climate fight, in which one man risks it all to stop the tar sands of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from crossing his land. Shot in the forests, pastures, and living rooms of rural East Texas, ABOVE ALL ELSE follows David Daniel, a retired stunt man and high-wire artist, as he rallies neighbors and activists to join him in a final act of brinkmanship: a tree-top blockade of the controversial pipeline. What begins as a stand against corporate encroachments on one man's land becomes a rallying cry for climate protesters nationwide.

Watch the trailer for ABOVE ALL ELSE here

On August 3, we will screen THE DIVIDE, which tells the story of 7 individuals striving for a better life in the modern day US and UK - where the top 0.1% owns as much wealth as the bottom 90%. By plotting these tales together, the filmakers uncover how virtually every aspect of our lives is controlled by one factor: the size of the gap between rich and poor.

Watch the trailer for THE DIVIDE here

IT HAPPENED HERE, which will be screened on September 7, is a compelling new documentary from director Lisa F. Jackson and producer Marjorie Schwartz Nielsen that explores sexual assault on campuses through the personal testimonials of five survivors who transform their experiences into a springboard for change. In raw and intimate interviews, the students describe surviving sexual assault only to be met with apathy, disbelief, blame and retaliation from the authorities when they tried to report the crime. When they tried to get justice, they were ignored, belittled and shamed, while their attackers remained on campus with impunity. But instead of hiding away in shame, they chose to speak out, and found a way to force institutional change. 

Watch the trailer for IT HAPPENED HERE here

Is the Internet under attack? Is free speech, innovation, and democracy up for grabs? On October 5, we will screen KILLSWITCH: THE BATTLE TO CONTROL THE INTERNET. In this documentary, Lawrence Lessig, Tim Wu and Peter Ludlow frame the story of two young hactivists, Aaron Swartz and Edward Snowden, who symbolize the disruptive and dynamic nature of the Internet. Their lives parallel one another as they free information to millions on the Internet, putting them directly in the cross-hairs of the most powerful interests in the world. Will this be a cautionary tale of what happens when you dare to take on elite power structures? Or will it be the spark that ignites a revolution that will redefine democracy in the digital age?

Watch the trailer for KILLSWITCH here

Finally, concluding our series for 2017, we will screen THE RETURN. In 2012, California amended its “Three Strikes” law—one of the harshest criminal sentencing policies in the country. The passage of Prop. 36 marked the first time in U.S. history that citizens voted to shorten sentences of those currently incarcerated. Within days, the reintegration of thousands of “lifers” was underway. THE RETURN examines this unprecedented reform through the eyes of those on the front lines—prisoners suddenly freed, families turned upside down, reentry providers helping navigate complex transitions, and attorneys and judges wrestling with an untested law. The film asks, at a moment of reckoning on mass incarceration, what can California’s experiment teach the nation?

Watch the trailer for THE RETURN here

In addition to our new lineup, on May 4, 2017 the Humanities Institute and the Austin Public Library will be featuring CODE BLACK, a 2014 documentary that follows a team of young doctors-in-training as they wrestle openly with their ideals and with the realities of saving lives in an overburdned and complex system. Then, on June 1st, we will screen DAMNATION, a film that explores the potential problems that the increasing number of dams across America poses. 

Our Controversy & Conversation film series is a partnership between the Humanities Institute of the University of Texas at Austin and the Austin Public Library. On the first Thursday of each month, an award-winning documentary film on a controversial social topic of the day is screened at the Terrazas Branch of the Austin Public Library and is followed by a community discussion of the issue. Directors of the documentaries and community leaders are frequently present to participate in the discussion and answer questions. The Humanities Institute features blog posts related to past and upcoming films and the Austin Public Library hosts interviews on its Controversy & Converesation series of its podcast Volumes

Please join us!

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