Film Series Examines ‘the Politics of the Unseen’

October 3, 2019
Terry Tempest Williams
A new film series at HDS is being curated by Terry Tempest Williams, pictured, and Geralyn White Dreyfous. / Photo: Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

Curated by Terry Tempest Williams and Geralyn White Dreyfous, “The Politics of the Unseen: Exploring the Moral Imagination” is a special film series and salon open to all members of the Harvard community as well as the general public.

The films, which will begin screening later this month, will focus on issues of social and racial justice, ethics of data collection and its impact on free elections, moral leadership, gun violence, and dreams of farming and caring for the land—all of which at their core are spiritual issues.

Each of these films are stories about how nothing is as it appears, how courage matters, how failure can create reflection, and how the world can change. Participants will discuss the role of the moral imagination in addressing these concerns, examining how film contributes to our understanding of societal change and how we as a community might engage more fully in movement-building rooted in creativity and compassion.

Each film will be framed within the context of “the politics of the unseen,” screened, and then followed by a spirited discussion with filmmakers, producers, actors, and spiritual and intellectual influencers. Dialogue with the students and questions from the audience will be encouraged.

The series is free and open to Harvard students and members of the Harvard community, as well as to the general public. To register for the film series, please contact Gretchen Legler at Priority will be given to registered participants with remaining seats open to the general public. All reserved seats will be held until 2:45 pm. Doors will close promptly at 3 pm.

Film screenings will take place at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, 24 Quincy Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Dates: October 28, November 4, November 11, and November 18, with a special screening of Harriet, a biopic on Harriet Tubman to follow the last film. Note: The Harriet screening will take place at Kendall Square theater in Cambridge with the director present.

Time: Four consecutive Monday afternoons from 3 pm to 6 pm.

Film Schedule

October 28: The Great Hack (View trailer)

Executive producer Geralyn Dreyfous in conversation with journalist Carole Cadwalladr from The Guardian, and Ravi Naik, Human and Data Rights Barrister.

November 4: The Two Popes (View trailer)

Stephanie Paulsell, Interim Pusey Minister of the Memorial Church at Harvard in conversation with producer Jonathan Eirich.

November 11: The Biggest Little Farm (View trailer)

HDS MDiv candidate and farmer Gretchen Legler in conversation with producer Laurie David.

November 18: Us Kids: We Call BS: A Film in Progress (View trailer)

Robb Moss, Harvard College professor and Chair of the Department of Art, Film and Visual Studies at Harvard in conversation with Us Kids director Kim Snyder, Us Kids producer Maria Cuomo Coles, David Hogg, Harvard student and March for Our Lives founder, and Bria Smith, Emerson student and March for Our Lives board member.

November 18 at 7 pm: Harriet (View trailer)

David B. Wilkins, Lester Kissel Professor of Law, and the Rev. Gloria White Hammond, Swartz Resident Practitioner in Ministry Studies at HDS, in conversation with Harriet producer Debra Martin Chase.

The screening of Harriet will be shown at Kendall Square Cinema, 355 Binney St., Cambridge, Mass., at 7 pm. Seating will be on a first come basis as the theater has 160 seats.

Film Series Curators:

Terry Tempest Williams is writer-in-residence at the Harvard Divinity School. Among her books are Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, considered a classic in environmental literature; Finding Beauty in a Broken World; When Women Were Birds; The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks; and most recently, Erosion: Essays of Undoing.

Her work has been translated and anthologized worldwide. A recipient of both a Lannan Literary Award in creative nonfiction and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Geralyn White Dreyfous has a wide and distinguished background in the arts. In 2007, she co-founded Impact Partners Film Fund bringing together financiers and filmmakers so that they can create great films that entertain audiences, enrich lives, and ignite social change. Since its inception, IP has been involved in the financing of over 50 films, including: The Cove (2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature); The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib, (2007 Emmy Award for Best Documentary Special); and Hell and Back Again (2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature).

Geralyn's independent executive producing credits include the Academy Award winning Born Into Brothels; The Square, and Peabody Award winning The Invisible War. She was honored by the International Documentary Association with the Amicus Award in 2013 for her significant contribution to documentary filmmaking.

Special acknowledgement goes to Robin Kelsey, Dean of the Arts and Humanities at Harvard, whose phrase “The Politics of the Unseen” has inspired this film series and HDS salon.

Also, we are thankful to our partners, the Center for the Study of World Religions at HDS, the Department of Art, Film and Visual Studies (AFVS) at Harvard, and The Constellation Project.

Finally, Harvard Divinity School gratefully acknowledges the support of the Susan Shallcross Swartz Endowment for Christian Studies for these events.