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Cinema and Religion Continues for Fifth Season

Fifth Season of Cinema & Religion Informal Class for the Community Begins January 22, 2018
Free series returns to The Moviehouse & Eatery on Monday Nights at 6:30 PM

Hymnboard with dates

Austin, Texas—For the fifth consecutive season, Concordia University Texas (CTX) will offer the informal course Cinema and Religion to the community on Monday nights beginning January 22, 2018. The class is held each week at 6:30 p.m. at The Moviehouse and Eatery in The Trails at 620 Shopping Center across from the University. Continue reading Cinema and Religion Continues for Fifth Season

Lenses Informal Class Back for Third Season

Concordia University is pleased to announce the return of Lenses, our popular Informal Classes for the Community starting Monday, September 11, 6:30 PM at The Moviehouse and Eatery. Thanks to the ongoing support of many of the cinephiles who have taken one or more of these classes on film, the series is again offered free to anyone who registers. The class meets Mondays through November 27 at the Moviehouse, located in the Trails of 620 Shopping Center just west of the Concordia campus. (Note that the series will pause on October 9 and November 20 for fall and Thanksgiving breaks respectively.)

The Lenses informal class is designed to help develop media literacy skills in the community. Meeting alongside traditional students each Monday, community participants will closely examine a carefully selected popular film artifact using one of ten distinct perspectives (lenses). Professors from the university and other featured respondents will help conduct a brief discussion after each screening. Together, the participant will employ these various lenses in achieving rich and deep interpretations of each film’s content. Continue reading Lenses Informal Class Back for Third Season

FAQ About Informal Classes on Film


Q: How does the informal class differ from a traditional college class?

A: In essence, this class does much more than just study film. More importantly, we must fully examine both our personal and the societal responses to the messages found in these artifacts. As such, Concordia University has rented the theater as a suitable classroom for examining films in their most natural and powerful state. Unlike a movie you attend for entertainment purposes, we include a lively discussion that helps us all understand the experience we’ve shared.

Note that we have both traditional Concordia students (who are registered for a formal version of the course) learning alongside our community participants. One major difference is that the traditional students attend a lecture prior to the examination of the selected film that prepares them to analyze it critically.

Q: Do I have assignments if I attend the Informal Class?

A: No. Just enjoy the discussion after the film or feel free to add your insights as well. For your benefit, we’ve provided some of the formal course’s lecture notes in a pre-class slideshow running in our theater. You may also call the various student-led radio shows during the week on Tornado Radio (, 512-234-3335. The schedules are TBA).

Q: Do I get academic credit?

A: This is a non-credit Informal Class, so the registrar at Concordia does not maintain a formal academic record of this class. The class is for your own edification.

Q: Why are you examining R-rated films?

A: Our approach is not to ask if we should show films like these, but ask if these more difficult scenes and themes somehow make the film exempt from serious examination. We find that many R-rated films are in need of a close, scholarly analysis.

Q: May I bring someone with me?

A: All participants must register. Use this form to reserve your seat (along with up to three other registrants).  The form will allow you to edit the number or names after you submit it. Listing a potential participant on this form registers them for the class.

Q: Can I order food and drinks as I normally do when watching a film?

A: Of course! But we do not pick up the tab for refreshments.

Q: What if the weather is bad?

A: Check your email. If you confirmed your participation in the Informal Class via email, you will receive a message if the event is postponed or canceled.

Concordia University Announces Fourth Season of Film Series

Cinema & Religion Informal Class for the Community Returns to The Moviehouse & Eatery on Monday Nights
Series kicks off with a special screening hosted by the director and producer of the film.

Austin, Texas—Concordia University Texas (CTX) will again offer the informal course Cinema and Religion to the community on Monday nights beginning January 23, 2017. The class is held each week at 6:30 p.m. at The Moviehouse and Eatery in The Trails at 620 Shopping Center across from the University. The series begins with a special screening of the 2016 film The Vessel, starring Martin Sheen. Concordia is pleased to announce the filmmakers Julio and Marla Quintana gave agreed to participate in a discussion after the screening.

The course will begin January 23 and will run every Monday through April 10 at the Moviehouse & Eatery. (The class will not meet on March 13 during Spring Break.) The non-credit course is free and open to registered members of the public who are invited to develop media literacy as co-learners alongside traditional college students. Through close examinations of popular films, the course helps people develop skills in discovering and analyzing religious themes in popular media fare.

The course is built around specific religious themes repeatedly found encoded in our culture’s popular cinematic narratives. Each week the class will examine an outstanding story artifact—a film that raises one or more of these profound religious questions for viewers. The experience will equip film audiences to analyze the story’s suggestions concerning the character of God, the search for transcendence, the struggle between revenge and forgiveness and the means and nature of redemption.

The class features a discussion following the examination of each night’s film lead by CTX professors Dr. Jake Youmans and Dr. Philip Hohle. Details on an additional special screening and other guests are pending, but this site will update these as they are confirmed.

To register for any or all of these class sessions do not contact The Moviehouse & Eatery directly. Instead, simply email Professor Philip Hohle at <> to register for the free course and to reserve a seat. Community learners have no assignments or attendance requirements. No college credit is awarded for the informal course.


Syllabus (Traditional Students)

# Date Topic/Film Reading Questions Length
1 Orientation: No Film <> afterlife in film <>
Group Planning
Group Planning
2 1/23/17 Unit 1: Basic Methodology Reel Spirituality: Introduction
The Vessel Must we wear our grief? 86
3 1/30/17 Unit 2: Core Questions Reel Spirituality: The Power of Film
Gran Torino How fulfilling is it to live a life to oneself? 116
4 2/6/17 Unit 3: Three ways to compare religions Reel Spirituality: History of the Church and Hollywood
Hacksaw Ridge Can you compromise your fatih and still be religious? R 139
5 2/13/17 Unit 4: The Monomyth Reel Spirituality: Theological Approaches
Take Shelter What if there really is a supernatural? 120
6 2/20/17 Unit 5: Christ Figures Reel Spirituality: Why look at film?
Birdman 119
7 2/27/17 Unit 6: Man vs. Monster Reel Spirituality: Are Movies Art?
Dead Poets Society Can God’s law be emancipating? 126
8 3/6/17 Unit 7: The Redemptive Cycle Reel Spirituality: In Film, Story Reigns Supreme
Anna Karenina How patient is God’s love? 129
10 3/20/17 Unit 8: The Quest for Transcendence Reel Spirituality: Image and Music
Blue Like Jazz What is the Christian’s place in the world? 108
11 3/27/17 Unit 9: Herophobia and Heroic Teleology Reel Spirituality: Becoming a film critic.
Se7ven How does one pay the wages of sin? 127
12 4/3/17 Unit 10: Religious Ideology in Film Reel Spirituality: Responding to Film Ethically
Ex-Machina Why does the creation rebel against the creator? 108
13 4/10/16 Unit 11: Postmodern Influences Reel Spirituality: Responding to Film Theologically
Guardians of the Galaxy Who protects you from evil? 121
14 4/17/16 EASTER BREAK
Unit 12: Wrap up/Blackboard Clean Up Reel Spirituality: An Exercise in Dialog
15 Final Exam (at CTX): TBA

Is Democracy Dead—or is it just Obsolete?

Lesson Learned on the Road to Waco

It is a bright Texas afternoon and Interstate 35 is not so crowded. I set the cruise control—that sublime moment when driving to Waco becomes an actual joy. Driving a few of clicks above the limit, it is not long before I found myself gaining on a slower car, and I realize that I will have to pass. In my driver’s side mirror, I see another car approaching at a much faster speed. I have to make my choice quickly: Do I move into the left lane at my current speed and force this guy to slow down as I pass the car? Do I hit the gas and race around the slower car as fast as I can? Or do I hit my brakes and stay in my lane until the driver speeds past? I select the third option. Afterward, I began wondering why had I deferred to the driver in the fast lane. Then I realized this road encounter had revealed something profound about democracy.traffic

Thomas Hobbes and other 18th century Enlightenment thinkers outlined our social contracts, the mutual sacrifices members of a community make without hesitation. This willingness became fundamental to the establishment of our democratic government. In light of recent events and trends in the news, I am fearful that our democracy has died, or at the very least, it appears somewhat obsolete. Citizens are beginning to abandon the lumbering deliberations that a democratic process requires. We no longer seek to engage in tedious duels of logic to uncover truth.

Instead, we crave a fast-food version. The true statesman has been replaced by the sophist, who publically shames and demonized the opposition until they can no longer speak. Those who influence public opinion are simply those who command attention while talk shows seldom feature those who practice serious dialectic. On defense, these ideologues tightly drape their identities around the issue, making it impossible to counter without inflicting personal offense. The truth uncovered by these methods is most often a mirage as such politicking denies the community the opportunity to use rational dialectic in deciding the issue.

It is difficult to practice dialectic today because a mutual appeal to authority is no longer possible. Postmodern apologist Jean-François Lyotard observed that our great institutions have lost their credibility. Democracy itself is certainly not immune from this penetrating critique. In the new democracy of public opinion, the only appeal with credible density is the appeal to self and the ultimate limit to your opponent’s authority is your right to take offense: “Freedom for me means freedom from you.” To say the least, this is not a very hopeful foundation on which to build a better community.

Civic order requires more selfless engagement and democracy has always maintained an inherent imbalance in this regard: the majority always wins. When outvoted, the collection of offended selves finds the democratic process tyrannical, and the courts often seem fixated on reversing this reality. The law has lost its sting, and you can sense it even when driving our highways. Liberal or conservative, the problem lies in all segments of American society. If the lawmaker is proven unjust, the lawbreaker becomes free to act without restraint. Like the driver who hopes to change lanes, those who still obey the law must make way for those who fearlessly enjoy their freedom from social contracts.

Let us become more intolerant of those who selfishly disregard our contracts, regardless of their age, race, or ideology, including me. A militaristic police state is not the answer, but a citizenry that respect the laws of community—those generated by honest dialectic in a democratic process—will make such policing unnecessary. The sacrifice is honorable and healthy. May we all enjoy the security that comes from the true practice of democracy.


On the River’s Edge with Rick

Review of River’s Edge (1986)—by Philip Hohle, Ph.D. ©2015

It took a while, but I finally bit the bullet and jumped into an official paid membership with the Austin Film Society (AFS). I even went to my first screening, hosted by AFS founder Richard Linklater (the members all call him Rick). I am privileged to be in a town small enough for these close encounters, but large enough to attract and keep talent like Linklater, who is arguably at the top of the royal class of independent filmmakers these days.

Linklater is a fascinating person—he thinks very deeply about the subject material in his films. Anyone who has seen The Waking Life or the Before trilogy can appreciate the brilliance he demonstrates as he addresses difficult philosophical questions. Certainly, this was part of the appeal for the Oscar-nominated Boyhood film that is still fresh in everyone’s mind. So it was a surprise to me that the Q&A after the screening seemed oddly devoid of satisfying philosophy.

The series is called Jewels in the Rough, a revisiting of films from the 1980s that Linklater argues are worth another look. The film screened on May 20th was the Tim Hunter dark teen drama titled River’s Edge. In his rambling introduction to the film, Linklater adequately prepared the audience for the dark teen angst this film would project. Then he also spoke, as a fellow filmmaker might, about the casting choices and other non-content aspects of the movie. This film features Keanu Reeves in his first major role and the always-entertaining Crispin Glover. Linklater informed the audience that some critics thought Glover provided an “over the top” performance.

Perhaps River’s Edge is the prototype of the darker version of the teen angst genre, where a John Hughes flick would be on the opposite, lighter side of the scale. But one thing they have in common is the fact that adults are missing from the stories. This is not to say that adults are not visible, it is just that the parent’s generation can only worsen the heroes’ angst—providing no compassion, no guidance, and certainly no answers. To my disappointment at my first AFS event, we never got around to hearing Linklater philosophize on the dark angst that drives River’s Edge. In the Cinema and Religion series I curate for Concordia University at The Moviehouse & Eatery, I purposely avoid chatter about actors and auteur directors unless their performance directly shapes the content. While film history has never been my primary interest (my co-teacher Dr. Youmans is more versed in these details than I am), I mostly avoid it because those discussions take away from the time needed to unearth and analyze the socio-cultural-religious themes we find underscoring the films we watch.

With older films, I am generally unconcerned about spoilers, so let me summarize the plot: a clique of teens discovers that one of their own has murdered his girlfriend, also a member of the gang. She is left lying completely naked on the banks of a wide river outside of town. The teens react to the problem of the dead body in different ways. Lanye (Glover) wants to dispose of the body to protect the cohesion of the group. The girls of the group are muted in their response to their dead friend—perhaps the most shocking moment in the film. One rationalizes, “He (John) had his reasons [to kill Jamie].” One of the girls (Clarrisa) is puzzled over the realization that she cried more over the death of a character in a movie than over her friend. Later, death is discussed as something akin to the sensation of being stoned. I expected the attitudes expressed in these comments to be disruptive to some degree for the younger people in the audience—but it was never brought up in the discussion afterward. Granted, this taboo may be an implicit norm of the AFS organization. In any case, I have my own series that can provide this kind of analysis, so I should not impose that norm on my new friends. Nevertheless, I was disappointed that we left so much food on the table.

In a day where sexual assault is considered intolerable, we find in this film characters who are numb to the problem of the violent rape-death of a friend. And therein we find the unappreciated genius of the film, the conundrum the viewer must wrestle with: are there circumstances that eliminate the possibility of a functioning ethic—an absolute right and wrong that can provide answers? The girls try to phone the police, but they discover they do not know what to say. The conundrum silences them, since John (the one who strangled Jamie) is still their friend. For now, they need the safety of their gang, and that seems to be a sufficient mechanism to cope with the surprise of seeing their friend starkly naked and restlessly dead. Of course, the drugs and alcohol help. I saw the conundrum an insightful metaphor for the study of mass media effects on today’s audiences who invite all kinds of transgressive characters into their living rooms.

In my research, we’ve discovered that viewers can and often do select their own protagonist. In light of that truth, I propose that Matt (Reeves) was the protagonist of this story. He is the transitional character I most identified with, as he immediately senses the moral problem his friend John has created and is less and less willing to go along with the cover-up. At the same time, he provides the only hint of parenting in his dysfunctional family. While he can still bum pot from his mother, he serving as somewhat a father figure to his innocent little sister and reluctant disciplinarian to his troubled pre-teen brother. Completely the opposite of his friend John, Matt treats Clarissa with complete respect.

Also a transitional character, others might select the mysterious drug supplier Feck as the protagonist (played by the iconic Dennis Hopper). From the lawless and dangerous Frank Booth (Blue Velvet) persona in the beginning, Feck becomes a man apparently willing to submit himself the law for the punishment of his own crimes. When we meet him, he is a pathetic shell of a man hiding from the murder of his girlfriend in the past, bragging about the fact to the impressed teens who he keeps supplied in drugs. Feck chooses to remain in his dysfunction, repelling the society that would burden him with their laws. While the film begins with Feck as the gang’s model for living free, he transitions to the place where he realizes that justice should be served. Slowly distancing himself from the Booth persona, Feck realizes that he has moral limits. In spite of his past crime and his eccentric and creepy behavior throughout the film, by the end he mortifies himself in a confession to the law (who remain off-screen) in the hope that the cycle of guilt will be broken—not only for himself, but for the teen gang, and for the benefit of the whole community.

The most pathetic character is John Sampson, a hulking teenager without restraint or remorse. He murders Jamie because she “talked shit.” In the flashback to the actual murder, she is seen fully clothed as she dies, but of course, in the crime scene we see later she lies completely naked—a subtle, but egregious story detail not forgrounded in the Q&A after the screening.

John tells Feck that the murder was exhilarating, a moment of “total control.” This anthem of the male rape-culture under attack in today’s headlines goes almost unnoticed and unpunished, except by Feck who becomes lucid to the growing need to distance himself from this young thug. Feck tries to explain that John’s senseless murder of Jamie was different than his own transgression: “I loved her!” It is interesting to see the filmmaker propose that the viewer judge Feck more favorably in their rationalizations for murder, but even Feck slowly becomes aware that John and he are too much alike—both of them are tragically guilty of an unforgivable sin against the community and the sin is lawlessness. But the filmmaker Hunter twists this revelation— we are shown the flashback of Jamie’s murder when John speaks of being in total control, but Hunter intercuts the scene with a concurrent action: Clarrisa’s seduction of the relatively innocent Matt. Almost as stunned as Jamie, Matt becomes passive as Clarrisa takes charge of the sex—she is on top and in control. The editing provides a most strange juxtaposition, especially in light of contemporary conversations about violence and sex. What is even stranger is the fact that these scenes at the heart of the film’s message did not provoke commentary after the screening.

No doubt, River’s Edge raises important issues, especially for the millennial generation who are the inheritors of the 1980s baggage. The IMDB site for the film points out that the plot is enhanced by the gang’s relative ambiguity to the death and crime so close to them. Indeed, death has lost its sting—the wide-eyed corpse lying in the dirt does not seem real to the pot-hazed kids in the film, and even the awakening of a moral conscious is subtle and demands no justice or emotional response to death’s offense. As the film ends, Matt and Clarissa have found some new strength in their relationship; but at the funeral after they visit the casket of their dead friend—now fully clothed—they return to the pew without any sign of grief. Death has lost its sting for these teens, and the film tries to leave one with a sense of hope that everything will be OK for them.

As observers of this 1980s angst, this mostly millennial screening audience seemed quite willing to pass on the film’s profound statements about life and death. Somewhat like Jamie’s teenage friends—stoners who cannot negotiate the reality of death—this audience seemed too numb to appreciate the tragedy of this film. Linklater predicted this accurately in his introduction to River’s Edge—today’s audiences are able to laugh at and appreciate this film without feeling its pain.

Why Major in Communication—Broadcast & Production at Concordia University Texas

Why study Broadcast & Production?

The calling of the communicator is to articulate truth within the context of our time and place in history. Such a task demands the critical use of human methods of thought conveyed within the finest in artistic expression. These works are not ends in themselves—they serve a higher purpose.

No matter your career, an inability to frame and relate compelling stories can be a barrier to success. Even writer Flannery O’Connor lamented,  “There will always be people who refuse to read the story you have written.”

  •  Film is the new lingua franca of not just American culture but, increasingly, global culture” (James K.A. Smith). Life’s truths are conveyed through stories—and the more engaging the story, the more truthful it feels.
  • Our cultural narratives are “signposts that provide us with instructions and directions, filters that screen out parts of experience and focus on others, mirrors that reflect ourselves back to us, and barriers that block the truth." (Denis McQuail).
  • These stories can present a “vision of how the world is as well as how it might be” (John Lyden).
  • Popular film (and television) “not only express values and identities but can also create them” (Joel Martin and Conrad Ostwalt, Jr.).
  • Students of production and broadcast have a unique opportunity to help shape culture in immediate, direct, and powerful ways.

    Production Students

The student of Communication is an exemplar for the most well-rounded education in the liberal arts tradition. No student practices the virtuosity of communication itself—the discipline is all about dialectic, the art of discovering truth in all subjects. As such, Communication is involved in everyone’s business, and everyone’s business needs communicators—especially good storytellers.

Why study at Concordia University Texas (and not a prestigious film school)?

The awards given at Sundance and SXSW film festivals reveal that it is not only film school graduates who are telling compelling stories. Much of the best in independent film is made by those who never took a single class in filmmaking. The most important and compelling narratives are made by those who majored in life.

  • First and foremost, the education at Concordia is higher education. The curriculum reflects a liberal arts emphasis in the traditions of the best universities in the world. Students think critically about ideas before they ever pick up a camera.
  • Few film schools still address the proposition that art should be moral. Concordia is a faith-based institution in the Lutheran tradition, where students engage the paradox of living in both God’s kingdom and the secular world at the same time. As such, filmmakers and critics are not afraid to take on difficult and even sensuous topics that are already a part of our world’s conversations.

Student Broadcaster

The curriculum for Broadcast and Production at Concordia provides a unique 360º perspective. The student critic becomes a better filmmaker at the same time the student filmmaker becomes a more insightful critic. Few other schools set the stage for this convergence in their curriculum.

  • Different from the typical film school, students are challenged to explain and interpret popular culture’s stories we find so prevalent in the mass media. The student begins to understand the sense-making of the viewer and how their schemas are applied to the mediated experience in a search for truth.
  • “[Film] is a powerful ‘incarnational’ medium that can reveal truth about our world, opening up our experience in a way that propositions and textbooks cannot” (James K.A. Smith).

Without a doubt, students at Concordia learn film school techniques of composition, mise-en-scène, audio production, and editing techniques as they would in other schools. Certainly, with those skills the student at Concordia produces art, but more significantly, they are allowed to produce truth.

Features of the Concordia University Texas degree in Communication—Broadcast & Production
  • The curriculum provides opportunities to produce/direct both dramatic film production (shorts and short features) as well as broadcast journalism news packages and documentaries.
  • In addition to a three-sequence experience designed to develop production skills, students enjoy a range of supporting subjects including Media Law & Ethics, Cinema & Religion, and Digital Journalism & New Media Communication.
  • Practicum courses, travel courses, a required internship, and a capstone course help prepare the student for a professional career in a production, broadcast or a related field. Our alumni have enjoyed a wide range of careers within the industry. They are radio and television show hosts, actors, broadcast journalists, independent filmmakers, editors, and producers.
  • Concordia University maintains a digital lab with the latest in editing and graphics workstations. We also provide a radio lab, where students produce programs for Tornado Radio. The Black Box Theater doubles as a film soundstage and broadcast news station. Students also have options to gain experience in sports broadcasting.
  • The University is fortunate to be located in Austin, Texas. Several major directors call Austin home. Oscar-nominated director Richard Linklater started and maintains the Austin Film Society, and three major film festivals call Austin home: The Austin Film Festival, South by Southwest (SXSW), and the Attic Film Festival (faith-based). Likewise, there are ongoing film projects in the area, and students have opportunities to observe the industry at work—and some have even served as crew or extras.

·      Dr. Philip Hohle brings 20+ years of experience in production to the classroom. He is well-connected in industry, not only in Austin but Hollywood as well. One special course is a 10-day trip to Hollywood to study the inner workings of the entertainment industry.


For more information, contact Hohle at

Cinema and Religion at The Moviehouse & Eatery (Spring ’16)


Informal Class for the Community Returns for Third Season: Cinema and Religion at The Moviehouse & Eatery

Austin, Texas— Concordia University Texas (CTX) will again offer the informal course Cinema and Religion to the public on Monday nights beginning January 25. The series takes place weekly at The Moviehouse and Eatery in The Trails at 620 Shopping Center across from the university. The course objectives are designed to help people develop skills in discovering and analyzing religious themes in popular movies. The non-credit course is free and open to members of the public who are invited to develop media literacy as co-learners alongside traditional college students.

The course is built around 12 specific themes repeatedly found in our culture’s popular cinematic narratives. Each week the class will examine a different film selected specifically as an outstanding artifact where profound religious questions are raised in the story. CTX professors Dr. Jake Youmans and Dr. Philip Hohle will facilitate the discussion of each film’s theme and questions. Other film and religion experts from the Austin area are also slated to contribute. The class begins at 6:30 p.m. and will end after a short discussion following the examination of each night’s film.

The experience will equip film audiences to explore questions concerning the character of God, the search for transcendence, the struggle between revenge and forgiveness and the means of redemption as they are found encoded within these narratives. For the upcoming series, these themes are found in a wide range of popular movie titles, including Stand by Me and Her. The series will include exploration of relatively unexamined films such as The One I Love as well as those already universally recognized for having rich religious themes like The Matrix and Noah. Other films currently tabbed for examination include The Lego Movie, The Fifth Element, Shallow Hal, American Beauty, Kumaré, Whiplash, and Black Swan.

For the public, the course will begin January 25 and will run every Monday through April 18 at the Moviehouse & Eatery. A special event planned for the Monday during the South By Southwest festival in mid-March, which is during the university’s spring break. To register for any or all of these class sessions do not contact The Moviehouse & Eatery directly. Instead, simply email professor Philip Hohle at to register for the free course and to reserve a seat. Community learners have no assignments or attendance requirements. No college credit is awarded for the informal course.

Lenses at The Moviehouse & Eatery (Fall ’16)


Concordia University Returns to The Moviehouse for Lenses—A Film Series Designed to Cultivate Media Literacy

Contact: Philip Hohle 512-313-5409

Mondays in the fall will be special for the Northwest Austin community, as Concordia University is offering a new film series titled Lenses. Sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in partnership with The Moviehouse & Eatery, the series is an informal class for the community and is free to anyone who registers.  The series begins on Monday, Sept. 16 and runs through Dec. 5. at the Moviehouse in the Trails of 620 shopping center just west of the Concordia campus. (Note that the series will pause on Oct. 10 and Nov. 21 for fall and Thanksgiving breaks.)

The purpose of the series is to develop media literacy among people. The class will give the student-participant new skills in interpreting popular movies. Each session will involve an examination of a film from one of ten unique lenses. The practice will serve to develop tools in the viewer in fully appreciating or critiquing the media messages they encounter. Faculty members from the college will be on hand for a brief discussion after each screening to guide the audience in interpreting the films from these perspectives.

Communication professor Dr. Philip Hohle curates this series just he produces the Cinema and Religion series offered at The Moviehouse each spring. Both are extensions to traditional classes and according to Hohle, “The participants from the community really enjoy the interaction with our traditional students. I think it works both ways. We always enjoy great synergy— some nights it is hard to wrap things up because the discussions are so lively.”

The primary lens used on each night is supported by key questions that will frame the experience. Beginning on Sept. 16, the viewer will use the lens of accuracy to ask if the film Captain Phillips is truthful.  History professor Dr. Matt Bloom will be on hand to help the student-participant work through the facts presented in this film. Examinations using lenses focused on values, genre expectations, socio-cultural interaction, psychological consciousness, and critical ideology, will follow each week. The lens of religion is used more thoroughly in the spring series. Films by acclaimed directors are slated for examination, including Austinites Richard Linklater and Robert Rodriguez.

Space is limited, and as it has been with the Cinema and Religion series, participants will be required to register by emailing For more information, visit <>.