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 2016: Film Fe(a)st
Exploring food, culture, and ethics

This year’s Ethics Film Series connects with a series of programming at the Institute focused on food, culture and ethics. The four films and one documentary series chosen reflect different ways in which visual narratives can help unearth the ways in which preparing and eating food brings us closer to one another.

The films will be screen every other Wednesday from January 27 through March 23 at 7:00pm  in the Griffith Film Theater in Duke University’s Bryan Center, followed by a post-film discussion with faculty and special guests. 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 will receive a voucher to hand to the attendant.


January 27
Chef’s Table (2015)

(With director and Duke alumnus Brian McGinn)

February 10
Wall-E (2008)

February 24
Black Gold (2009)

(Plus free coffee cupping)

March 9
The One Hundred Foot Journey (2014)

March 23
Chef (2014)



Previous series

The 2015 film series, Sound Beliefs: Music, Ethics, Identity centered around the idea that music can act as a space and as an action at and through which identity is contested, exchanged, and upheld. The selections, including The Visitor, Buena Vista Social Club, Once, and The Punk Singer, were chosen to explore the many ways ethics, morals, and personal identity are expressed and shared through music.

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).