Ethics Film Series

Each spring, the Kenan Institute for Ethics sponsors a film series in collaboration with Duke’s Screen/Society, the Center for Documentary Studies, and the Arts of the Moving Image Program. The films provide popular and accessible vehicles for talking about ethics around a particular theme, and each series as a whole offers rich opportunities for debate and discussion on ethical issues for audiences from both the Duke and Durham communities.


Spring 2015: Sound Beliefs
Music, Ethics, Identity

This year’s Ethics Film Series centers around the idea that music can act as a space and as an action at and through which identity is contested, exchanged, and upheld. This year’s four films—which range from a modern-day musical about the love story of a Czech immigrant and an Irishman, to a documentary profile of aging Cuban musicians who find global notoriety — explore the many ways ethics, morals, and personal identity are expressed and shared through music.


January 26
The Visitor
(dir. Thomas McCarthy, 2007)
February 24
Buena Vista Social Club
(dir. Wim Wenders, 1999)
March 24
(dir. John Carney, 2006)
April 14
The Punk Singer
(dir. Sini Anderson, 2013)

All films will begin at 7:00pm  in the Griffith Film Theater in Duke University’s Bryan Center, followed by a post-film discussion with faculty. The films are free and open to the public. Refreshments are provided.

Parking is available in the Bryan Center Parking Deck. Upon leaving the film, you may receive a voucher to hand to the attendant.


Previous series

Aiming close to home, the 2014 series explored “The South: Navigating the Past, Carving out a Future.” Each of the films were released within the past decade and explore different but connecting issues that define the reality of living in a place often ascribed to the mystique of a “New South”—one marked by both great social and cultural progress and by enormous, and persistent, inequalities. Screenings included Moving Midway (2007), Junebug (2005), deepsouth (2012), and Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012). The directors of Moving Midway and deepsouth joined us for the Q&A following their films.

The 2013 series  “Love and Justice” explored how individuals – both alone and in context of their communities – engage the tension between the demands of justice and the grace of love. For this series, we partnered with the Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival for two of the selections, which included  Gran Torino (2008), Le fils (The Son) (2002), Brother Number One (2011), and Habibi (2011).

Condemned to be Free,” the 2012 series, featured four films focusing on individuals—even in the most restrictive, oppressive circumstances—who claimed their existential freedom by taking responsibility for their decisions and actions. Films included Defiance (2008), Of Gods and Men (2010), Human Terrain (2010), and Little Town of Bethlehem (2010).

The Institute’s 2011 Ethics Film Series featured four films that touch on the theme of community, addressing the tensions that arise between individual rights and the common good and examining how individuals become members of and valued by their communities. Films included The Heart of the Game (2005), Restrepo (2010), Monica & David (2009), and Lars and the Real Girl (2007).