Winona State’s Film Studies Program announces its 2019 University Theme Film Series: “Careers, Conflicts, and Callings,” Oct. 1-Nov. 7.

In support of the “Career Readiness” theme, these ten films explore the complexities of finding, following, undertaking, and even sometimes leaving one’s career path.  All film screenings are free and open to the public.

Headlining the series is the Minnesota premiere of 17 Blocks, director Davy Rothbart’s verité-inspired documentary charting four generations of the Sanford-Durant family in Washington, D.C., just blocks away from the nation’s capital. Director Rothbart, a journalist and filmmaker, will appear along with his film Tuesday, Oct. 22.

This year’s lineup of films features award-winning documentaries, cult and contemporary indie comedies, a number of critical favorites and Oscar-nominated biopics—and even a surprise throwback for Halloween evening.

All film screenings take place in Stark 103, Miller Auditorium, unless otherwise noted, and begin at 7 pm.

Tues. Oct. 1. On the Basis of Sex (2018, dir. Mimi Leder).  The critically acclaimed biopic focuses on the early career challenges and first cases of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, portrayed by Felicity Jones. Rated PG-13. Co-sponsored by Campus Cinema, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, the Department of Social Work, and the Winona Chapter of The League of Women Voters. Guest speaker: Ruth Charles, Professor of Social Work.

Sat. Oct. 5. Office Space (1999, dir. Mike Judge).  Initially a box-office disappointment, this sympathetic workplace comedy examined the plight of info-tech workers and eventually became a cult classic and meme machine. Starring Jennifer Aniston and Ron Livingston. Rated R for language and brief sexuality. Guest speaker: Chad Kjorlein, Teaching and Learning with Technology.

Tues. Oct. 8. Generation Startup (2016, dir. Cynthia Wade and Cheryl Miller Houser).  A new generation of entrepreneurs challenging the status quo as they embark upon their careers is the subject of this inspiring documentary featuring, among others, Venture for America Founder and CEO Andrew Yang.  Sponsored by the College of Business. Guest speaker: WSU alumni Nathaniel Nelson and Ben Strand from Treedome and Winona Main Street, former WSU Innovate Challenge Grant Recipients.

Tuesday, Oct. 15. North Country (2005, dir. Niki Caro).  Starring Charlize Theron in an Oscar-nominated performance, Niki Caro’s docudrama portrays the grim reality of a workplace hostile to women and the costs to those who stood up to expose harassment. Rated R for sequences involving sexual harassment, including violence and dialogue, and for language. Sponsored by WSU’s Common Book Project. Guest speaker: April Herndon, Professor, English and Director of WSU’s Common Book Project.

Sat. Oct. 19. The Greatest Showman (2017, dir. Michael Gracey).  The feel-good hit musical from the Oscar-, Grammy-, Tony-, and Golden Globe Award-winning songwriting duo Pasek & Paul (Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land) stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, and Zendaya and engaged millions of fans while glossing over some thorny ethical questions about P. T. Barnum’s career. Rated PG-13.

Tues. Oct. 22. 17 Blocks (2019, dir. Davy Rothbart).  Award-winning director Davy Rothbart will appear at WSU to present his verité-inspired documentary charting the challenges faced by four generations of the Sanford-Durant family just blocks from the nation’s capital, but beset by extreme poverty, gang-related violence, drug addiction, and domestic abuse. For this family, careers might seem impossible.  This film is not rated but includes adult content. Co-sponsored by the Frozen River Film Festival, College of Liberal Arts, Department of English, Office of Inclusion & Diversity, and the Integrated Wellness Center.

Fri. Oct. 25. Sorry to Bother You (2018, dir. Boots Riley). This Sundance hit mashup of sci-fi tropes and irreverent humor had the attention of critics and audiences alike last year for its savvy take on workplace politics.  Lakeith Stanfield stars as a young black telemarketer who navigates a career roadblock by adopting a white accent and then finds himself deep in a corporate conspiracy. Rated R for pervasive language, some strong sexual content, graphic nudity, and drug use.

Tue. Oct. 29. Finding Home in Boomtown (2019, dir. Matt Maxwell).  Another award-winning documentary from this year’s festival circuit, Finding Home in Boomtown shows the challenges faced by a young Christian couple who leave behind a comfortable career to follow their calling: building housing communities for the homeless.  This film is not rated. Co-sponsored by Frozen River Film Festival. Guest speaker: Director Matt Maxwell, via Skype.

Thur. Oct. 31. The Blair Witch Project (1999, dir. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez). Join us for a career-themed Halloween celebration with the cult classic from what many say was one of the cinema’s most inventive and radical years, 1999.  The film depicts challenges enterprising filmmakers face as they pursue their careers and aspirations in the face of mounting danger—and the result kickstarted a new subgenre of found-footage horror films. Rated R for language. Co-sponsored by Campus Cinema. SLC 120.

Thurs. Nov. 7. One Week Job (2010, dir. Ian Mackenzie).  Like many young people, Sean Aiken wondered what to do with his life. So he took on 52 different jobs, each for one week at a time, to try to determine his best path in life, and the results were inspiring for himself and for audiences across the country. This film is not rated. SLC 120.

The series is curated by Film Studies majors and minors under the supervision of Prof. J Paul Johnson. The series is funded by the Office of Community Engagement and the Department of English, with additional support for specific films from the Frozen River Film Festival, the Office of Inclusion and Diversity, the Integrated Wellness Center, the Colleges of Business and Liberal Arts, Campus Cinema, the Retiree Center, the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, the Department of Social Work, and the Winona Chapter of the League of Women Voters, with thanks to the Department of Art & Design.

Public Performance Licenses are provided through the cooperation of Swank Motion Pictures; CriterionPicUSA; Maxwell FilmWorks; OneWeekJob Productions; Beachside Productions; and Creative Breed Productions.

Additional details and a complete schedule will be found on the WSU Film Studies Facebook page. Contact pjohnson@winona.edu for further information.

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Madeline Peterson

I am an English Writing and Film Studies major at Winona State University.