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Movies About the Risks, Rewards, and Essential Creativity of Friendship
a seminar with Jeffrey Overstreet

We are living in a time that feels increasingly fragmented, as communities become camps of cultural like-mindedness. Marilynne Robinson describes this fragmentation as a threat to America’s foundational ideals: “Democracy, in its essence and genius, is imaginative love for and identification with a community with which, much of the time and in many ways, one may be in profound disagreement.”

Perhaps more than ever, we need imaginative visions of friendships that flourish in spite of, and even because of, fundamental differences in culture, belief, and priorities. In this seminar we will watch six overlooked cinematic treasures from around the world that provide just such visions: movies about fracture, forgiveness, and faithfulness among friends. We will give particular attention to films about relationships between artists. And then we will discuss their narratives, study their cinematic artistry, and talk about what they reveal about our own relationships.

While these visions come from artists from a variety of cultural backgrounds and religious commitments, they all amplify the summons of the Gospel: love your neighbor. Frederick Buechner reminds us that, in order to love them well, “before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces.”

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