Humanities Institute

Controversy and Conversation

Controversy and Conversation Co-Sponsored Community Program






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 & Conversation series of its podcast Volumes. Below is a list of current and past film screenings.

Current Film Screenings

Spring 2020

February 6th: I Am Not Your Negro (2016) dir. Raoul Peck, discussant: Dr. Jennifer Wilks from UT English and African and African Diaspora Studies

March 5thReversing Roe (2018) dirs. Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, discussant: Dr. Lauren Thaxton from Women's Health at Dell Medical School

April 2nd (POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE): RiverBlue (2017) dirs. David McIlvride and Roger Williams

April 23rd (Virtual Screening): Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things (2016) dir. Matt D'Avella, discussants: Ashlee Bushee, Doran Kim, Anai Moreno, and Megan Schuetz from Fashion Anonymous 

May 7th (POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE): Building the American Dream (2019) dir. Chelsea Hernandez

June 4th (POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE)Trinidad (2008) dir. Jay Hodges and PJ Raval

Past Film Screenings

Summer / Fall 2019

The Bleeding Edge (2018) dir. Kirby Dick, discussant: Lisa McGiffert from Patient Safety Action Network

The River and the Wall (2019) dir. Ben Masters, discussant: HI Director, Pauline Strong

Getting Back to Abnormal (2013) dir. Paul Stekler, Andrew Kolker, Louis Alvarez, Peter Odabashian, discussant: Dr. Paul Stekler from UT Radio-Television-Film and film maker

Merchants of Doubt (2014) dir. Robert Kenner, discussant: Dr. Kerry Cook from UT's Department of Geological Sciences

Before the Flood (2016) dir. Fisher Stevens, discussant: Dr. Jonathan Lowell from UT's Planet Texas 2050  

Spring 2019

Dark Money (2018) dir. Kimberly Reed, discussant: Amanda Gnaedinger for Common Cause Texas

Icarus (2017) dir. Bryan Fogel, discussant: Dr. John Hoberman from UT Department of Germanic Studies

Wasted! The Story of Food Waste (2017) dirs. Anna Chai and Nari Kye, discussant: Lisa Barden from Keep Austin Fed

Human Flow (2017) dir. Ai Weiwei, discussants: Nishtha Jain from UT Department of Radio-Television-Film and Susan Stasney from Refugees Services of Texas

The Central Park Five (2012) dir. Ken Burns, discussant: Andrea Marsh, UT School of Law

Summer / Fall 2018

Cartel Land (2015) dir. Matthew Heineman, discussant: Dr. Jake Dizard, Mexico Security Initiative, UT Strauss Center for International Security and Law

Nobody Speak (2017) dir. Brian Knappenberger, discussants: Richard Whittaker from The Austin Chronicle and Martin Riedl from the UT School of Journalism

Do Not Resist (2016) dir. Craig Atkinson, discussant: Gabriel Solis from Texas After Violence

Vessel (2014) dir. Diana Whitten, discussant: Heather Busby from Circle of Hope International

Documented (2013) dir. Jose Antonio Vargas, discussant: Robert Painter from American Gateways

Trashed (2012) dir. Candida Brady, discussant Memi Cardenas from Austin Resource Recovery

Spring 2018

Private Violence (2014) dir. Cynthia Hill, discussant: Maisha Barrett from  SAFE Austin

Zero Days (2016) dir. Alex Gibney

Meth Storm (2017) dirs. Craig Renaud and Brent Renaud, discussant: Dr. Steve Powell from Seton Medical Center

Whose Streets? (2017) dir. Sabaah Folayan, discussant: Sukyi McMahon from Austin Justice Coalition

Water & Power: A California Heist (2017) dir. Marina Zenovich

Summer / Fall 2017

The Return (2016) dirs. Kelly Duane de la Vega and Katie Galloway

Killswitch (2014) Ali Akbarzadeh, discussants: Kevin Welch from Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin and Dr. Philip Doty from the UT School of Information

It Happened Here (2014) dir. Lisa F. Jackson, discussants: Breall Baccus from UT’s Title IX Office and Amanda Lewis from Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA)

The Divide (2015) dir. Katharine Round, discussant: Dr. Bob Jensen from the UT School of Journalism

Above All Else (2014) dir.and discussant John Fiege 

Spring 2017

DamNation (2014) dir. Travis Rummel and Ben Knight

Code Black (2014) dir. Ryan McGarry, discussant: Dr. Ted Held from People’s Community Clinic 

How to Change the World (2015) dir. Jerry Rothwell, disscusants: David Lyon from the Environmental Defense Fund Oil & Gas and Dave Cortez from the Sierra Club 

Starving the Beast (2016) dir. and discussant Steve Mims

Southwest of Salem (2016) dir. and discussant Deborah Esquenazi

How to Die in Oregon (2011) dir. Peter Richardson, discussant: Cindy Merrill 

Summer / Fall 2016

GTFO (2015) dir. Shannon Sun-Higginson

Under the Stack dir. and discussants Anne Fischel and Lin Nelson

True Cost (2015) dir. Andrew Morgan

Gerrymandering (2010) dir. Jeff Reichert  

Just Gender (2013) dir. George Zuber

Trapped (2016) dir. Dawn Porter 

Spring 2016

The House I Live In (2012) dir. Eugene Jarecki

Merchants of Doubt (2014) dir. Robert Kenner

Sushi, The Global Catch (2011) dir. Mark Hall

Whose Is This Song? (2003) dir. Adela Peevla

Before You Know It (2013) dir. and discussant PJ Raval

Peace Officer (2015) dir. Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson

Fall 2015

This Changes Everything (2015) dir. Avi Lewis, discussant: Naomi Klein author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

No Sanctuary: Big Business and Family Detention (2014) dir. Matthew Gossage

Shadows of Liberty (2012) dir. Jean-Phillippe Tremblay

Triple Divide (2015) dir. Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman

The Homestretch (2014) dir. Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly 

Spring / Summer 2015

At the Death House Door (2008) dir. Peter Gilbert and Steve James

Forks Over Knives (2011) dir. Lee Fulkerson

Terms and Conditions May Apply (2013) dir. Cullen Hoback

Beyond Pollution (2012) dir. Barker White

Inequality For All (2013) dir. Jacob Kornbluth

Blue Gold: World Water Wars (2008) dir. Samuel Vartek


Note on film screenings at APL: the Austin Public Library including the Terrazas Branch is currently closed. All in-person screenings are currently on hold until further notice.

"Thank you for making excellent choices in documentaries to get me thinking! They are so worthwhile and thought provoking." - C&C Participant

"I enjoyed the conversation at the end. I'm not one to speak up but it was nice hearing ideas from different people." - C&C Participant

HI Director Pauline Strong, former HI Program Coordinator Melissa Biggs, and APL Librarian Andrew Murphy discuss the Controversy & Conversation film screening series on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission Webinar Series, offering practical advice about fostering academic partnerships with community libraries.

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    University of Texas at Austin
    Office Address: SAC 4.138
    Mailcode F1900
    Austin, Texas 78712