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Cinema of Substance 2009-2010

A film series showcasing poignant films from around the world exploring who we are and how we might be.  The subjects of the films are then further examined in audience discussions with the films' award winning writers and directors.

Co-sponsored by the USC School of Cinematic Arts

Upcoming Films

2010-2011 Films


  • Tsotsi: Screening followed by discussion with director Gavin Hood

    Saturday, April 11, 2010, 6pm
    Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre
    Set amidst the sprawling Johannesburg township of Soweto - where survival is the primary objective - Tsotsi traces six days in the life of a ruthless young gang leader who ends up caring for a baby accidentally kidnapped during a car-jacking.  The film is a psychological thriller in which the protagonist is compelled to confront his own brutal nature and face the consequences of his actions. It puts a human face on both the victims and the perpetrators of violent crime and is ultimately a story of hope and a triumph of love over rage.
  • No Puedo Vivir Sin Ti: Film Screening

    Friday, February 12, 2010, 7pm
    Norris Cinema Theatre/Frank Sinatra Hall
    A father’s love for his child is unconditional, a bond that can’t be broken. But sometimes government bureaucracy can interfere. Li Wu-hisung lives in a harbor zone in Taiwan with his small daughter. He doesn’t have a job, so he takes on risky tasks on boats to earn money. When he tries to do the right thing and enroll his daughter in a school, the government decides it’s in the child’s best interest to remove her from his care. The title of the film, which translates to I can’t live without you, becomes evident once the man’s daughter is taken from him. He does everything he can to get her back, leading to a desperate standoff in front of the media and the world.
  • Waltz With Bashir

    Wednesday, October 25, 2009, 6:30pm-9pm
    Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre
    Nominated: Best Foreign Film, 2009 Academy Awards
    Winner: Best Foreign Film, Golden Globes
    Winner: Best Picture, National Society of Film Critics
    Winner: 6 Israeli Academy Awards
    One night at a bar, an old friend tells director Ari Folman about a recurring nightmare in which he is chased by 26 vicious dogs. The two men conclude that there's a connection between the dream and their Israeli Army mission in the first Lebanon War of the early eighties. Ari is surprised that he can't remember a thing anymore about that period of his life. Intrigued by this riddle, he decides to meet and interview old friends and comrades around the world. As Ari delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, his memory begins to return in surreal images.
  • Taxi to the Dark Side: Film Screening Followed by Q&A with Director


    Tuesday, September 22, 6 p.m.
    Film followed by Q&A on ethical issues with director Alex Gibney
    Winner of the 2008 Academy Award for documentary feature, Taxi to the Dark Side is a gripping investigation into a murder mystery that examines the death of an Afghan taxi driver at Bagram Air Base. The film exposes a worldwide policy of detention and interrogation that condones torture and the abrogation of human rights. This disturbing and often brutal film is the most incisive examination to date of the Bush Administration’s willingness, in its prosecution of the “war on terror,” to undermine the essence of the rule of law.

  • "Persepolis": Followed Film Screening followed by presentation and Q & A with Firoozeh Dumas

    Monday, March 24, 2008, 6pm
    Winner of the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, Best Foreign Independent Film (BIFA) and Academy Award Nominee for Best Animated Feature. "Persepolis" is a wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely intertwined with the history of her country. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, "Persepolis" is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression.

    Co-sponsors: Middle East Studies, USC College Department of Comparative Literature, Thematic Option, USC Comic Book Club