2013 Ethics Film Festival getting started with Gran Torino Jan. 14

The Ethics Film Series is a signature series at KIE meant to engage the Durham community in conversation on ideas such as justice, personal freedoms, and social responsibility through the lens of feature films. This year’s theme is “Love and Justice,” with four films that will explore how individuals – both alone and in context of their communities – engage the tension between the demands of justice and the grace of love. When justice executed is seasoned by love, the boundaries of the ethical, social, and political expand in unprecedented ways. After each film, the audience is invited to stay and discuss issues raised by the films with Duke faculty and specialists. The screenings are free and open to the public, with parking passes and refreshments provided.

The first film, Gran Torino (2008), will be screening Monday, January 14. It features actor-director Clint Eastwood as disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski. The story follows his growing friendship with his neighbor, a young Hmong teenager who tried to steal Kowalski’s prized possession: his 1972 Gran Torino. The post-film discussion will be led by Professor Marianna Torgovnick (English Department and Arts of the Moving Image). Torgovnick’s research and teaching expertise relates to film and media studies, cultural criticism, religion, and contemporary American issues.

On Monday February 11th, Le fils (The Son) (2002) will be shown. In this award-winning Belgian-French mystery film, themes of compassion and justice unfold in unexpected ways. The story follows Olivier, a carpentry instructor at a vocational school, who is still recovering from the murder of his only son five years earlier and the subsequent dissolution of his marriage. When a new student applies to join his class, Olivier initially refuses but then secretly begins following the boy.

The last two films in the series are selections from the Human Rights Watch Traveling Film Festival. Brother Number One (2011) will be screened Monday, March 18. The director of the film, New Zealander Rob Hamill, tells the story of his brother’s death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. It explores the violence of the regime and its followers, killing nearly 2 million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979. Thirty years later, Rob Hamill has a rare chance to take the stand as a witness at the Cambodia War Crimes Tribunal. In this documentary,  Rob retraces his brother’s final days, meeting survivors who tell the story of what countless families across Cambodia experienced at the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

The award-winning and international festival favorite Habibi (2011)by director Susan Yousef, will show April 8. The film follows young lovers Qays and Layla, university students in the West Bank who are forced to return home to Khan Yunis, Gaza. In conservative Khan Yunis, their relationship can only be sustained through marriage, but Qays is too poor to con­vince Layla’s father that he can provide for his daughter. As the couple struggles to be together, Qays paints verses from the classical Sufi poem Majnun Layla all over Khan Yunis, a rebellious act that angers Layla’s father and the local self-appointed moral police. Lyrical and passionate, Habibi depicts a reality where personal happiness must be weighed against society’s opinions, and a choice sometimes made between one’s people and one’s heart.

All films begin at 7:00pm
Griffith Theater, Bryan Center
Free admission, parking passes, and movie snacks

The series is sponsored by the Kenan Institute for Ethics and presented by Screen/Society at Arts of the Moving Image and the Center for Documentary Studies.