A film series curated and presented in a collaborative partnership with the Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity, Caltech Sustainability, and the student-led Caltech Y. The films in this series address current concerns in various realms of science as well as important matters of social justice.
Movies That Matter's first public presentation of the 2023-24 academic year probes one of the best known medical (and scientific) ethics issues of the not-so-distant past. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, starring Oprah Winfrey, will be shown for free to the Caltech community on October 11, 2023, at 7:00 PM in Beckman Auditorium followed by a conversation with the audience focusing on the ethical issues raised by the film led by Caltech Professor Michael Alvarez (Founding Co-Director of the new Caltech Center for Science, Society and Public Policy).
Henrietta Lacks was a Black woman whose cells were used to create the first immortal human cell line. Told through the eyes of Lack's daughter Deborah (Oprah Winfrey) and a journalist, the film chronicles Deborah's search to learn about the mother she never knew, and how the unauthorized harvesting of Lacks' cancerous cells in 1951 led to medical breakthroughs.
Though this presentation is free to the public, registration is required for this screening.
Tuesday, July 25, 2023 at 7 p.m. PT
This Sundance award-winning film from Exposure Labs captures footage of the most severe oceanic bleaching event in recorded history. Between 2014 and 2017, 75 percent of corals suffered or died from heat stress brought on by climate change. It is predicted that if nothing changes, by 2034 there will be severe bleaching events every year and by 2050, 90 percent of reefs could be lost.
Following the screening, there will be a Q&A with a filmmaker from Chasing Coral.
Who Killed Vincent Chin?
Tuesday, May 16, 2023 at 7 p.m. PT
This 1987 documentary recounts the murder of Chinese American automotive engineer Vincent Chin and reveals information about this racially motivated hate crime and how the murderers escaped justice in the court system.
The film, which chronicles a historical moment of anti-Asian hate in the U.S., is being screened at a time when racial hate crimes are once again haunting this country. Chin lived and worked in Detroit. His murderers were angry at the success of the Japanese auto industry in the U.S. car market and killed Chin with a baseball bat. Nominated for an Academy Award, Who Killed Vincent Chin? became a landmark in Asian American filmmaking and a classic in U.S. independent cinema.
Following the screening, there will be a Q&A with co-director and co-producer Renee Tajima-Peña.
Presented as part of Caltech's recognition of Asian/American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander Month in May. The event is a collaborative partnership with Caltech Public Events, the Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity, and the Caltech Y.
Small Island Big Song
Tuesday, April 18, 2023 at 7 p.m. PT
Filmed over three years on 16 island nations across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, this grassroots musical features Indigenous musicians on the frontlines of the climate crisis who have crafted songs that speak to the immediate threat of sea level rise and the consequences to their cultures if they are forced to leave their island nations for higher land.
Immediately following the screening, there will be a Q&A with filmmakers Tim Cole and BaoBao Chen, who will join remotely from Taiwan.
Manzanar Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust
April 20, 2022, 6:00 p.m. PT
Sitting at the foot of the majestic snow-capped Sierras, Manzanar, the WWII concentration camp, becomes the confluence for memories of Payahuunadü, the now-parched "land of flowing water." Intergenerational women from Native American, Japanese American and rancher communities come together to form an unexpected alliance to defend their land and water from Los Angeles.
In a live Q&A following the screening, filmmaker Ann Kaneko and Max Christman, Caltech manager of sustainability programs, discuss relevant issues brought forth in the documentary and the significance of Earth Week.
Earth Day, held annually since 1970, has offered a continuing opportunity to recognize the human role in environmental protection. Caltech Sustainability hopes that collaboration with other Caltech groups with seemingly distinct missions will illustrate the interdisciplinary nature with which the world's greatest sustainability problems must be addressed. Environmental justice must be a leading theme as we look to address the climate crisis and other sustainability challenges.
This was a virtual, one-time, free screening
100 Years From Mississippi
February 11, 2022, 7:30 p.m. PT
100 Years From Mississippi is a true story of resilience, forgiveness, memory, and hope. Mamie Lang Kirkland still remembers the night in 1915 when panic filled her home in Ellisville, Mississippi. Her family was forced to flee in darkness from a growing mob of men determined to lynch her father and his friend. Mamie's family escaped, but her father's friend, John Hartfield, did not. He suffered one of the most horrific lynchings of the era. Mamie vowed to never return to Mississippi – until now. After 100 years, Mamie's youngest child, filmmaker, Tarabu Betserai Kirkland, takes his mother back to Ellisville to tell her story, honor those who succumbed to the terror of racial violence, and give testimony to the courage and hope epitomized by many of her generation.
Watch the trailer
A live post-screening Q&A followed with filmmakers Tarabu Betserai Kirkland and Barry Shabaka Henley; Allen Edson, President of the NAACP, Pasadena Branch; and Caltech's Danielle L. Wiggins, assistant professor of history, Division of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Watch the post-screening Q&A
This was a virtual, one-time, free screening