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Online Discussion with Dr. Scott Churchill

Our resident film critic and Institute Fellow Dr. Scott Churchill selects leading films as they are released year-round and assigns several for members to watch on their own and then come together to discuss as the Institute. Learning from Dr. Churchill, guest critics, and each other, we become “better” filmgoers, which means that we watch with enlightened, thus more delighted eyes.

Per session: $30, Educator Members $12
Semester: $100, Members $85, Educator Members $40

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Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Netflix)

Tensions and temperatures rise at a Chicago music studio in 1927 when fiery, fearless blues singer Ma Rainey joins her band for a recording session. Oscar winner Viola Davis plays the Mother of the Blues opposite Chadwick Boseman in this adaptation of August Wilson's play.

Da 5 Bloods (Netflix)

Four African American veterans return to Vietnam decades after the war to find their squad leader’s remains—and a stash of buried gold. Starring Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, and Clark Peters, and includes the late Chadwick Boseman.

Mank (Netflix)

Mank is a 2020 American biographical drama film about 1930s Hollywood reevaluated through the eyes of scathing wit and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish Citizen Kane.

The Mauritanian (Where to Watch)

A defense attorney, her associate and a military prosecutor uncover a far-reaching conspiracy while investigating the case of a suspected 9/11 terrorist imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for six years. Tahar Rahim and Jodie Foster star in this dogged drama based on the story of Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

Nomadland (Hulu)

Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad.

The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, Nomadland features real nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.

Cinematic Representations of the 'Other': from Freaks to The Elephant Man

Read a letter of introduction from Dr. Churchill for April 19th's session.

Freaks (Todd Browning, 1932)

A circus' beautiful trapeze artist agrees to marry the leader of side-show performers, but his deformed friends discover she is only marrying him for his inheritance. (Watch on Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, GooglePlay, AppleTV+)

Even Dwarfs Started Small (Werner Herzog, 1970)

Dwarfs confined in an institution on a remote island rebel against the guards and director, also dwarfs, in a display of mayhem. (Watch on Amazon Prime, Vudu, YouTube, iTunes, AppleTV+)

The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Werner Herzog, 1974)

The film closely follows the real story of foundling Kaspar Hauser, using the text of actual letters found with Hauser. (Watch on Amazon Prime, YouTube, AppleTV+)

The Elephant Man (David Lynch, 1980)

A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous façade, there is revealed a person of kindness, intelligence and sophistication. (Watch on Amazon Prime, YouTube, Vudu, iTunes, AppleTV+)

Augustine (Alice Winocour, 2012)

Augustine is a look at the relationship between pioneering 19th century French neurologist Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot and his star teenage patient, a kitchen maid who is left partially paralyzed after a seizure.

An optional choice: Domino (Tony Scott, 2005)

From Dr. Churchill: "...a tour de force of editing, with almost kaleidoscopic cinematography - featuring an ensemble cast of actors all having great fun making this action film, which is arguably one of Tony Scott's best."

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

This allegorical film reached new heights with this subversive story told by an Eastern European director with the sensibilities of someone coming to Hollywood from a politically oppressed nation.


DR. SCOTT CHURCHILL teaches film at the University of Dallas, where he is Professor of Psychology. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Dallas Institute.



Review past Dinner and a Classic Movie selections here.