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Free Film Screenings and Discussions

More than 30 screenings to take place this semester on campus

A film screening room at Smith Warehouse.
A film screening room at Smith Warehouse.

Soon after the lights came up and film credits for James Stewart, Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant rolled, Laura Eastwood was engaged in a discussion about the way "The Philadelphia Story" examined the ideas of love and marriage in the 1940s.

She was among Duke community members who gathered Jan. 15 to watch and discuss the film during a screening sponsored by the Center for Philosophy, Arts, and Literature. This semester the center will show two more movies using classic comedies to kick start conversations about the nature of love.

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"I love old movies, but I don't want to watch them at home alone," said Eastwood, grant manager for the Humanities Writ Large program at Duke. "This opportunity to share a movie with others is fun, free and convenient, and it broadens my perspective."

Over the course of this semester, Duke community members and the public can watch at least 30 movies and participate in discussions on various themes.

Screen/Society, which is organized by the Arts of the Moving Image Program at Duke, is coordinating at least seven film series on campus. These series are organized in collaboration with academic programs such as Duke's Center for Canadian Studies and Duke's Kenan Institute for Ethics. For example, Kenan will host three more movies as part of its Ethics Film Series under the theme, "Love and Justice."

"There is a growing recognition that film is a compact, compelling way to present information, and it opens the doors to expanded conversations," said Hank Okazaki, exhibitions programmer for Duke Program in Arts of the Moving Image and the coordinator of the Screen/Society.

The Center for Philosophy, Arts, and Literature (PAL) hopes to continue conversations created by classic romantic comedies by screening "His Girl Friday" on Feb. 19 and "The Lady Eve" on April 9. More information is available on the center's website.

"At PAL, we believe it is part of the humanities to have conversations," said Toril Moi, director of PAL and James B. Duke Professor of Literature and Romance Studies. "Putting the experience of watching a movie into words fosters community and helps us become more aware of what we've just been through."

After participating in the conversation about "The Philadelphia Story," Eastwood, the grant manager for the Humanities Writ Large program, said the opportunity to engage in discussions led by a faculty member steeped in the field of film opened her eyes to facets of the movie she had never noticed before.

"Until last night I would never thought to connect 'The Philadelphia Story' and Shakespeare but now I can see how the little sister is so reminiscent of Puck in `A Midsummer Night's Dream'," she said. "And the discussion got me really thinking about what it takes to keep a good relationship going."

Eastwood has already marked off Feb. 19 to return to the Smith Warehouse to watch "His Girl Friday."

"I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation," she said.