The Power of Family: New Documentary Films in Social Context

 View and discuss three recent documentary films that explore long-term relationships in which family members experience challenges and adversity, along with resilience and joy, within specific social contexts. View each film independently; then meet online for discussions led by cultural historian Lori Rotskoff, who will frame each session with insights into the content and creative process behind each film. Suggestions for further reading, director interviews, and film reviews will also be offered. 

The films to be discussed at each class session include:

 A Secret Love, directed by Chris Bolan (2020); Netflix. 

This film documents the 65-year journey of love and commitment between two remarkable women—Pat Henschel and Terry Donahue—who fell in love in 1947 and kept their romance a secret from their families for most of their lives. Director Chris Bolan crafts an intimate, revealing narrative about his great aunts (one of whom is a former women’s professional baseball player) while highlighting the challenges of aging and the marginalizing effects of bigotry experienced by many LGBT people. 

Time, directed by Garrett Bradley  (2020)    Amazon

Time chronicles the story of Fox Rich—an entrepreneur and mother of six boys—as she fights for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year sentence in prison for a robbery they both committed in the early 90s in a moment of desperation. Combining the video diaries Fox has recorded for Rob over the years with intimate glimpses of her present-day life, director Garrett Bradley paints a mesmerizing portrait of the resilience and radical love necessary to prevail over the endless separations of the country’s prison-industrial complex.

Dick Johnson Is Dead, directed by Kirsten Johnson (2020)  Netflix

 Described by reviewer David Sims as a “bizarre cinematic experiment” and “an audacious and bittersweet attempt to confront mortality,” this personal documentary by cinematographer and director Kirsten Johnson offers a tender and at times fantastical narrative of old age, debility, grief, and loss–and also the consolations of faith, family rituals, and abiding father-daughter love.



Day: 3 Wednesdays
Dates:  January 27 – February 10
Time: 1:30 – 2:45 PM
Location: ZOOM
 Fee:  $75



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