On Tuesday, September 18, Emerson College’s Visual and Media Arts (VMA) Department kicks off the fall line-up for its Bright Lights Film Series, with more than half the films made by women for the second year in a row. All screenings, which are free and open to the public, feature post-film discussions with special guest filmmakers, faculty, and alumni, including: Producer and faculty member Linda Reisman (Leave No Trace) and Director Heather Cassano, (The Limits of My World); Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon, (Recovery Boys); and Director Jim Cummings, (Thunder Road). In addition, the series features two new partnerships, one with LunaFest, screening its traveling shorts program, and another with HubWeek, co-presenting a screening of Black Memorabilia. The Boston Jewish Film Festival is also collaborating with the film series this fall, co-sponsoring four films made by Jewish filmmakers with Jewish subjects: Generation Wealth, The Tale, RBG, and 306 Hollywood.

The series remains committed to crafting a diverse program including filmmakers of color, queer cinema, and films dealing with disability, and identifies those films with a special Bright Lights Series’ rating system. Ratings include W (made by women), F (feminist films), POC (produced by/featuring people of color), SJ (dealing with social justice themes), I (international), LGBT, D (by/featuring people with disabilities), and EC (made by a member of the Emerson community).

All screenings begin at 7:00 p.m. and take place in the Bright Family Screening Room, located at the Paramount Center, 559 Washington Street. Seating is first come, first served, and there is no advance registration required.

For additional information about screenings and updates on special guests, visit the Bright Lights Series website and Facebook page.

Bright Lights Series, Fall 2018

Note: The Bright is closed the week of November 19th-23rd for the Thanksgiving break.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties

Tuesday, September 18th
Co-presented by Wicked Queer
Directed by John Cameron Mitchell, comedy, 102 minutes, USA, 2018.

Worlds collide when Enn, a shy teenager in 1970s London, meets the beautiful and rebellious Zan at a party. They set in motion the ultimate showdown between their rivaling worlds and test the limits of how far they will go for true love. Discussion led by faculty to follow. F, LGBTQ

Leave No Trace

Thursday, September 20th
Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston
Directed by Debra Granik, drama, 109 minutes, USA, 2018.

A father and daughter live a perfect but mysterious existence in Forest Park, a beautiful nature reserve near Portland, Ore., rarely making contact with the world. But when a small mistake tips them off to authorities, they are sent on an increasingly erratic journey in search of a place to call their own. Discussion with producer and VMA Senior Distinguished Producer in Residence Linda Reisman moderated by Emerson Visual Media Arts Professor and Associate Chair Cristina Kotz Conejo. F, W, EC

Lunafest: Short Films Directed by Women

Tuesday, September 25th

LUNAFEST was the first all-women traveling film festival to hit the screens and amplify the voices of strong women everywhere. This year’s program will benefit Chicken and Egg Pictures. Discussion with a few of the directors to follow. POC, SJ,W, F, I

BLIFF: Estiu 1993 (Summer 1993)

Thursday, September 27th
Co-presented as part of the Boston Latino International Film Festival
Directed by Carla Simón, drama, 97 minutes, Spain, 2017.

Six-year-old Frida looks on in silence as the last objects from her recently deceased mother's apartment in Barcelona are placed in boxes. Although her aunt, uncle and younger cousin welcome her with open arms, Frida finds it hard to forget her mother and adapt to her new home in the Catalan countryside. Discussion led by faculty to follow. POC, F. W, I

Generation Wealth

Tuesday, October 2nd
Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston and the Boston Jewish Film Festival
Directed by Lauren Greenfield, documentary, 106 minutes, USA, 2018.

Lauren Greenfield’s postcard from the edge of the American Empire captures a portrait of a materialistic, image-obsessed culture. Simultaneously photographic journey, memoir, and historical essay, the film bears witness to the global boom–bust economy, the corrupted American Dream and the human costs of late stage capitalism, narcissism and greed. Discussion follows with director Lauren Greenfield and moderated by Assistant Professor of Visual Media Arts Maria Agui Carter. This screening and discussion are sponsored by Canon USA. W


Thursday, October 4th
Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston
Directed by Megan Griffiths, drama, 96 minutes, USA 2018.

SADIE is the story of a 13-year-old girl who lives at home with her mother while her father serves repeated tours in the military. Sadie is extremely attached to her father despite his prolonged absence, and when her mother begins dating a new man, Sadie takes extreme measures to end the relationship and safeguard her family through the only tactics she knows--those of war. Discussion with director Megan Griffiths to follow. F, W

Black Memorabilia

Tuesday, October 9th
Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston, part of Hubweek Open Doors
Directed by Chico Colvard, documentary, 63 minutes, USA, 2018.

Our modern global economy connects disparate individuals in unexpected ways. At the intersection of international commerce, racial identity, and historical narrative, this story follows the propagation of demeaning representations of African Americans. From industrial China to the rural American south to contemporary Brooklyn, we observe the people and places that reproduce, consume and reclaim Black Memorabilia. This feature documentary takes us on a journey into the material culture of racialized artifacts and confronts us with the incendiary features of these objects. Discussion with director Chico Colvard to follow. POC, SJ

The Limits of My World

Thursday, October 11th
Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston and Reelabilities
Directed by Heather Cassano, documentary, 70 minutes, USA, 2018.

The Limits of My World tells the story of a severely autistic young man facing the challenges of entering into the adult world after his “high school” graduation. Because of state policy, Brian is forced out of the education system after his 21st birthday. Now officially an adult, Brian moves from his residential school to his new home. His family worries that without the day to day structure of education Brian will regress to his previous violent behaviors. To combat this fear, Brian’s parents enrolled him in a newly formed program designed specifically for adults with autism. He is the first to participate in this program, as services for adults with autism are scarce in the state of Maryland. Discussion with director Heather Cassano (MFA ‘17) to follow. W, D, EC

Recovery Boys

Tuesday, October 16th
Directed by Elaine McMillian Sheldon, documentary, 89 minutes, USA, 2018.

In the heart of America's opioid epidemic, four men attempt to reinvent their lives and reenter society sober after years of drug abuse. Recovery Boys, is an intimate look at the strength, brotherhood, and courage that it takes to overcome addiction and lays bare the internal conflict of recovery and the external hurdles of an unforgiving society. Discussion with director Elaine McMillion Sheldon (MFA ‘13) to follow. W, EC

First Reformed

Thursday, October 18th
Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston
Directed by Paul Schrader, drama, 113 minutes, USA, 2017.

Reverend Ernst Toller is a solitary, middle-aged parish pastor at a small Dutch Reform church in upstate New York on the cusp of celebrating its 250th anniversary. Once a stop on the Underground Railroad, the church is now a tourist attraction catering to a dwindling congregation, eclipsed by its nearby parent church, Abundant Life, with its state-of-the-art facilities and 5,000-strong flock. When a pregnant parishioner asks Reverend Toller to counsel her husband, a radical environmentalist, the clergyman finds himself plunged into his own tormented past, and equally despairing future, until he finds redemption in an act of grandiose violence. Discussion led by VMA associate professor Harlan Bosmajian to follow. SJ

BPFF: The Judge

Tuesday, October 23rd
Co-presented as part of the Boston Palestine Film Festival
Directed by Erika Cohn, documentary, 76 minutes, USA/ Palestine, 2017.

A unique portrait of Judge Kholoud, the first woman judge to be appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a (Islamic law) courts—her brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women, and her drop-in visits with clients, friends, and family. With unparalleled access to the courts, it presents an unfolding vérité legal drama, with rare insight into both Islamic law and gendered justice. In the process, the film illuminates some of the universal conflicts in the domestic life of Palestine—custody of children, divorce, abuse—while offering an unvarnished look at life for women and Shari’a. Discussion with director Erika Cohn to follow. POC, W, SJ, I

BAAF: Drawn Together

Thursday, October 25th
Co-presented as part of the Boston Asian American Film Festival
Directed by Harleen Singh, documentary, 52 minutes, USA, 2017.

With a lively backdrop of superheroes, comic books, and animated comics, this film brings together three talented artists—a Sikh, a woman, and an African American—who are challenging the racist stereotyping currently endemic in America through their work. The documentary provides the rare opportunity to explore the subjects of race, gender, and religion stereotyping through the universally popular medium of comic books and cartoons. Drawn Together boldly encourages viewers to unlearn stereotyping, look beyond the obvious, and confront media prejudices—all through an uncommon and inherently engaging everyday source. Panel discussion led by VMA professor Sarah Zaidin to follow. POC, SJ, W

Screening with Flip the Record directed by Marie Jamora, drama, 15 minutes, USA, 2017.

In this 1980s coming-of-age story set to pulsing hip-hop music, a Filipino-American teen discovers her identity through a budding talent for turntablism. POC, W, F

and Wonder Buffalo directed by Christine T Berg, comedy, 19 minutes, USA, 2017.

A coming of age story of a Thai American teen finding acceptance and empowerment cosplaying as her favorite superhero. POC, W, F

Good Manners

Tuesday, October 30th
Co-presented by the Boston Underground Film Festival, Wicked Queer and Boston Latino International Film Festival
Directed by Marco Dutra and Juliana Rojas, fantasy/ horror, 135 minutes, Brasil, 2017.

Clara, lonely and desperate, arrives at an upscale apartment building to attend an interview for the job of a live-in nanny. The interviewer is Ana, a heavily pregnant young woman who is also very isolated. Although the difference in these women's classes and backgrounds are undeniable, Ana decides to hire Clara and a friendship slowly begins to develop between the two. Clara has some dark and broken secrets but so does Ana. As the two open up more to each other, their worlds become inevitably linked. Discussion led by VMA assistant professor Sarah Zaidan to follow. POC, I, F, W


Thursday, November 1st
Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston
Directed by Adam Mazo and Ben Pender-Cudlip, documentary, 86 minutes, USA, 2018.

For most of the 20th century, government agents systematically forced Native American children from their homes and placed them with white families. As recently as the 1970’s, one in four Native children nationwide were living in non-Native foster care, adoptive homes, or boarding schools. Many children experienced devastating emotional and physical harm by adults who mistreated them and tried to erase their cultural identity. Discussion with directors Adam Mazo and Ben Pender Cudlip to follow. POC, SJ

Thunder Road

Tuesday, November 6th
Directed by Jim Cummings, drama/ comedy, 92 minutes, USA, 2018.

Officer Arnaud raises his daughter as a love letter to his late Mom. Based on the 2016 short film. Discussion with writer, director and star Jim Cummings (‘08) to follow.

The Tale

Thursday, November 8th
Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston and the Boston Jewish Film Festival
Directed by Jennifer Fox, drama. 114 minutes, USA, 2018.

Jennifer has it all, with a loving boyfriend and a great career as a journalist and professor. But when her mother discovers a story - "The Tale" - that Jennifer wrote when she was 13, detailing a special relationship Jennifer had with two adult coaches, Jennifer returns to the Carolina horse farm where the events transpired to try to reconcile her version of events with the truth. Discussion with director Jennifer Fox moderated by VMA assistant professor Maria Agui Carter to follow. W, F

Half the Picture

Tuesday, November 13th
Directed by Amy Adrion, documentary, 94 minutes, USA, 2018.

HALF THE PICTURE is a documentary about the dismal number of women directors working in Hollywood, using the current EEOC investigation into discriminatory hiring practices as a framework to talk to successful women directors about their career paths, struggles, inspiration and hopes for the future. Discussion with director Amy Adrion to follow.W, SJ, POC

A Fantastic Woman

Thursday, November 15th
Co-presented by Wicked Queer and Boston Latino International Film Festival; part of Trans Awareness Week
Directed by Sebastian Lelio, drama, 100 minutes, Spain, 2017.

Marina's life is thrown into turmoil following the death of her partner. Mourning the loss of the man she loved, she finds herself under intense scrutiny from those with no regard for her privacy. Discussion led by faculty to follow.LGBTQ, I, F, POC

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Tuesday, November 27th
Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston
Directed by Morgan Neville, documentary, 94 minutes, USA, 2018.

For over thirty years, Fred Rogers, an unassuming minister, puppeteer, writer and producer was beamed daily into homes across America. In his beloved television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred and his cast of puppets and friends spoke directly to young children about some of life’s weightiest issues, in a simple, direct fashion. There hadn’t been anything like Mr. Rogers on television before and there hasn’t been since. Though he may be best known today as a soft-spoken, cardigan-wearing children’s television host, in reality, Fred Rogers’ career represents a sustained attempt to present a coherent, beneficent view about how we should best speak to children about important matters and how television could be used as a positive force in our society. Discussion with producer Nicholas Ma to follow. SJ


Thursday, November 29th
Co-sponsored by the Boston Jewish Film Festival
Directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, documentary, 98 minutes, USA, 2018.

At the age of 85, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has developed a breathtaking legal legacy while becoming an unexpected pop culture icon. But without a definitive Ginsburg biography, the unique personal journey of this diminutive, quiet warrior's rise to the nation's highest court has been largely unknown, even to some of her biggest fans – until now. Discussion led by faculty to follow. W, SJ

306 Hollywood

Tuesday, December 4th
Co-sponsored by the Boston Jewish Film Festival and Boston Latino International Film Festival
Directed by Elan Bogarin and Jonathan Bogarin, documentary, 82 minutes, USA, 2018.

306 Hollywood is a magical realist documentary of two siblings who undertake an archaeological excavation of their late grandmother’s house. They embark on a journey from her home in New Jersey to ancient Rome, from fashion to physics, in search of what life remains in the objects we leave behind. Discussion with directors Elan and Jonathan Bogarin to follow. W, POC

Eighth Grade

Thursday, December 6th
Co-sponsored by the Independent Film Festival of Boston
Directed by Bo Burnham, drama, 94 minutes. USA, 2018

Kayla is a 13-year-old who must endure the tidal wave of contemporary suburban adolescence as she makes her way through her last week of middle school -- and the end of one disastrous year of eighth grade. Discussion led by faculty to follow. F

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Based in Boston, Massachusetts, opposite the historic Boston Common and in the heart of the city’s Theatre District, Emerson College educates individuals who will solve problems and change the world through engaged leadership in communication and the arts, a mission informed by liberal learning. The College has 3,780 undergraduates and 670 graduate students from across the United States and 50 countries. Supported by state-of-the-art facilities and a renowned faculty, students participate in more than 90 student organizations and performance groups. Emerson is known for its experiential learning programs in Los Angeles, Washington, DC, the Netherlands, London, China, and the Czech Republic as well as its new Global Portals, with the first opening last fall in Paris. The College has an active network of 51,000 alumni who hold leadership positions in communication and the arts. For more information, visit