MIT: Independent Activities Period: IAP

IAP 2017 Activities by Category - Film and Television

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"Chinese Mayor": Retooling China's Heartland

Christopher Leighton, Associate Professor of History

Feb/02 Thu 06:00PM-09:00PM E51-285

Enrollment: Limited: Advance sign-up required
Prereq: None

While the prosperity of coastal China’s export-oriented economies have captured international attention, much of the country’s old industrial heartland lags behind. Plagued by pollution, declining heavy industry, and corruption, how can these cities be transformed? Preserving the stability and prosperity of China will rely on how well that question can be answered. 

Zhou Hao’s 2014 documentary, “The Chinese Mayor,” offers and intimate view of this problem and a frank picture of Chinese government in action. Granted unusual access to Geng Yanbo, the 54 year old mayor of Datong, a prototypical rustbelt city—China’s most polluted—of 3.5 million, it follows his struggles to transform the city. The mayor grapples with local businesses in decline, angry and dispossessed residents who protest, and complicated national-level politics.  

Participants will watch a documentary film, share a meal of Chinese food, and discuss these questions. No prerequisites; all welcome.  Please sign up here.


Sponsor(s): History
Contact: Christopher Leighton, E51-288, 617 324-5134,

39th Annual Science Fiction Marathon

Erika Lu

Jan/28 Sat 07:00PM-07:00AM 26-100

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)

Our feature films this year are: Edge of Tomorrow, Arrival, It Came From Outer Space, and ET!

Sponsor(s): LSC
Contact: Victoria Gunning, 617-253-3791,

Climate Action Film Series

Tse Lang Yim, Kaylee Brent, Patrick Healy Moran

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Every Thursday over IAP, from 7:00-9:00pm, we will be watching a different climate-related film.  In the third week, the executive producer of Age of Consequences, Sophie Robinson, will host a Q&A session after the film!

1/12/17 in room 32-123:Years of Living Dangerously (selected episodes)

1/19/17 in room 4-270: Before the Flood

1/26/17 in room 32-123: Age of Consequences

2/2/17 in room 4-270: How to Let Go of the World (and love all the things climate can't change)


Sponsor(s): Fossil Free MIT
Contact: Kaylee Brent, 360-852-6604, KBRENT@MIT.EDU

Harry Potter Movie Mash

Madison Evans, President

Jan/26 Thu 07:00PM-10:00PM 32-082

Enrollment: No limits

Hello Witches and Wizards!  Come join us at the Annual Quidditch Team Movie Mash!  We will be featuring all 8 of the Harry Potter films on 8 different screens simultaneously.  Come and watch your favorite scenes, catch up on the movie you missed, or sit back and laugh at all the fun scene mixes.  Fun fact: In the first movie, where Sean Seamus blows up his water is about the same time as when he blows up the bridge in the final movie!

Sponsor(s): MIT Quidditch
Contact: Madison Evans,

Media Lab Director's Fellows Sheila Hayman's Documentary Film Festival

Sheila Hayman, Media Lab Director's Fellow, Filmmaker

Enrollment: Unlimited: Advance sign-up required
Sign-up by 01/10
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions
Prereq: none

During the month of January the Media Lab will screen some of Director's Fellow Sheila Hayman documentary films once a week. On the week of January 23rd, Sheila will be at the Lab, and will host an informal conversation about her films with the students interested in watching them, on January 27, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. The subjects of these films go back to the times when Internet was just being introduced to the masses, and many other technological advancements and discoveries. Sheila believes it might be good to show parts of all of these as a way of introducing where she comes from, creatively, and what we might do together, next. The films will include:

Films to be shown:

Jan. 11: A Short History of the Future: The City (1986) 

Jan. 18: A Short History of the Future: The Spaceship (1986)

Jan. 27: Horizon: The Electronic Frontier (1993) (Sheila Hayman will be in attendance)


Contact: Claudia Robaina, E14 Third Floor Atrium, 917-573-8682,

A Short History of the Future: The City

Jan/11 Wed 04:00PM-05:00PM E14 3rd Fl. Atrium

As a young filmmaker, Sheila began to wonder where our image of 'the future' came from: all those self-driving cars, helicopters, teleportation machines and automatic everything. She discovered that it all started at the turn of the 20th century, a period as exciting as our own, when motorcars, electricity, X-rays, cinema, the telephone, radio and metal framed building technology arrived within a couple of decades.

Claudia Robaina - Coordinator, Media Lab Director's Fellows Program

ShortHistory of the Future:The Spaceship

Jan/18 Wed 04:00PM-05:00PM E14 3rd fl Atrium

Originally supposed to be a single film, it became two when I discovered the extraordinary story of the codependency of the film and space industries in 20th century America. The movie business gave a concrete form to dreams of space travel before it even existed: the space industry gave the movies great stories in which dilemmas of the time were, and are, played out in allegory.

Claudia Robaina - Coordinator, Media Lab Director's Fellows Program

Horizon: The Electronic Frontier

Jan/27 Fri 04:00PM-06:00PM E14 3rd fl. Atrium

Made in 1993, this was the first network documentary to tell the story of the digital revolution, then unfolding on the West Coast of America. From online communities to the vanishing High St, from invisible digital retouching and graphical user interfaces to copy-and-paste editing, it's all here. It also includes the first major interview with Bill Gates, then just a fresh-faced nerd in a Seattle office.

Claudia Robaina - Coordinator, Media Lab Director's Fellows Program, Sheila Hayman - Media Lab Director's Fellow, Filmmaker

Movie Night: Idiocracy

Eugenia Beh

Jan/17 Tue 05:00PM-07:00PM 2-105

Enrollment: Unlimited: No advance sign-up

Corporal Joe Bauers, a US Army librarian, is the most average man in the world. But when he wakes up 500 years later after an army experiment goes awry, he finds himself in a world where he may be humanity's best hope for survival. Having just passed its tenth anniversary, Mike Judge's satirical sci-fi comedy is now more relevant than ever. Come laugh and cry and ask yourself, Can it happen here?

Contact: Eugenia Beh, 14E-210, 617 253-0605, EBEH@MIT.EDU

Pre-screening of Richard Leacock's unfinished film "November Actions"

Deborah Douglas, Curator of Science and Technology, MIT Museum

Jan/16 Mon 02:00PM-04:00PM 6-120

Enrollment: For MIT community only; RSVP required to

November Actions is a detailed depiction of a distinctive and significant campus protest incident at MIT in the fall of 1969. Produced by Richard Leacock, a well-known, innovative documentary filmmaker and former MIT professor, it is, arguably, the most important film ever produced about MIT. Few have ever seen it because shortly after completing the rough cut, Leacock found an anonymous note suggesting he was a “lackey” of the administration. In 1994, Professor Glorianna Davenport transferred the large collection of November Actions negatives, work prints, rough cuts and sound tracks to the MIT Museum. In 2010, when the MIT Museum was preparing its major MIT150 Exhibition, Davenport and another Leacock student and colleague, Brian Bradley proposed the idea of restoring the work. It was a spectacular idea but even better because Leacock himself agreed to allow them to finish the film for release. Lacking funding, the Museum prepared four short excerpts that were included in the exhibition. The MIT Museum has now secured the funds to complete the project and has plans to premier a “finished” version this June. Open to members of the MIT community only, including spouses & partners and alumni, this pre-screening is a unique opportunity see an extremely rare museum artifact depicting firsthand a very dramatic moment in both MIT’s and U.S. history. 

Sponsor(s): MIT Museum, Science, Technology, and Society
Contact: Deborah Douglas, N51 (MIT Museum), 617-253-1766,

STAR WARS: A Spiritual Journey

Karl LaClair, Protestant Chaplain, Adam Reynolds, Blue Ocean Faith Chaplain

Enrollment: Advanced sign-up appreciated (but not required)
Limited to 20 participants
Attendance: Participants welcome at individual sessions

Have you ever found yourself swept up in a galaxy far, far away with a sense of wonder and amazement at the possibility of living a truly heroic life?  Have you ever wondered if our fascination with heroic journeys might mean we are destined to someday embark on our own epic life journey?  

In this series we will be examine the quintessential mythology of our generation to see what we can learn about living a life of heroic purpose. We’ll focus on the hero’s journey of Luke Skywalker from Star Wars and how his story is one of personal and spiritual growth.  We will look at clips from Star Wars Episodes IV, V, and VI and key scenes where we see Luke struggle and grow in his own epic spiritual journey.  We’ll explore how the archetypal spiritual journey of Luke Skywalker can inspire our own personal and spiritual growth. 

Whether you’ve seen Star Wars a million times or zero times, anyone is welcome at this series, which will explore the impact of a hero’s spiritual journey and how it can speak to us in our own lives.

Plus FREE FOOD - A feast fit for a Wookie! (or an Ewok)

Hosted by Karl and Adam (<--- These ARE the droids you're looking for.)

Sign up here:

Sponsor(s): Blue Ocean Faith
Contact: Karl LaClair, W11-011, 617-252-1780,

Episode IV

Jan/16 Mon 07:00PM-08:30PM 4-153

Karl LaClair - Protestant Chaplain, Adam Reynolds - Blue Ocean Faith Chaplain

Episode V

Jan/23 Mon 07:00PM-08:30PM 4-153

Karl LaClair - Protestant Chaplain, Adam Reynolds - Blue Ocean Faith Chaplain

Episode VI

Jan/30 Mon 07:00PM-08:30PM 4-153

Karl LaClair - Protestant Chaplain, Adam Reynolds - Blue Ocean Faith Chaplain

Starr Forum presents: "Amour"

John Tirman, Executive Director, CIS

Jan/27 Fri 12:00PM-02:30PM E15-070, Bartos Theater

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)

 Amour is a 2012 French-language romantic drama film written and directed by the Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Huppert. The narrative focuses on an elderly couple, Anne and Georges, who are retired music teachers with a daughter who lives abroad. Anne suffers a stroke which paralyses her on the right side of her body.

The film was screened at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards, and was nominated in four other categories: Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Emmanuelle Riva), Best Original Screenplay (Michael Haneke) and Best Director (Michael Haneke). At the age of 85, Emmanuelle Riva is the oldest nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

At the 25th European Film Awards, it was nominated in six categories, winning in four, including Best Film and Best Director. At the 47th National Society of Film Critics Awards it won the awards for Best Film, Best Director and Best Actress. At the 66th British Academy Film Awards it was nominated in four categories, winning for Best Leading Actress and Best Film Not in the English Language. Emmanuelle Riva became the oldest person to win a BAFTA. At the 38th César Awards it was nominated in ten categories, winning in five, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress.

2hrs 27m


Sponsor(s): Center for International Studies, MIT France Program, MIT Germany Program, CIS
Contact: Michelle Nhuch,

Starr Forum presents: "Cache"

John Tirman, Executive Director, CIS

Jan/20 Fri 12:00PM-02:00PM E15-070, Bartos Theater

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)

Caché, titled Hidden in the UK and Ireland, is a 2005 French psychological thriller written and directed by Michael Haneke. Starring Daniel Auteuil as Georges and Juliette Binoche as his wife Anne, the film follows an upper-class French couple who are terrorized by anonymous tapes that appear on their front porch and hint at childhood memories of the husband.

Caché opened to acclaim from film critics, who lauded Binoche's acting and Haneke's direction. The ambiguities of its plot continue to attract considerable discussion among scholars; many have commented on the film's themes of "bourgeois guilt" and collective memory, often drawing parallels between its narrative and the French government's decades-long denial of the 1961 Seine River massacre. Caché is today regarded as one of the greatest films of the 2000s.

1h 57min

Sponsor(s): Center for International Studies, MIT Germany Program, CIS, MIT France Program
Contact: Michelle Nhuch,

Starr Forum presents: "White Ribbon"

John Tirman, Executive Director, Center for International Studies

Jan/13 Fri 12:00PM-02:30PM E15-070, Bartos Theater

Enrollment: Limited: First come, first served (no advance sign-up)

The White Ribbon is a 2009 black-and-white German-language drama film written and directed by Michael Haneke.  It darkly depicts society and family in a northern German village just before World War I and, according to Haneke, "is about the roots of evil. Whether it’s religious or political terrorism, it’s the same thing."

The film premiered at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival in May 2009 where it won the Palme d'Or, followed by positive reviews and several other major awards, including the 2010 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The film also received two nominations at the 82nd Academy Awards in 2009: Best Foreign Language Film (representing Germany) and Best Cinematography (Christian Berger).

2h 24min


Sponsor(s): MIT Germany Program, CIS, MIT France Program, Center for International Studies
Contact: Michelle Nhuch,


Thomas White, Videographer

Jan/13 Fri 06:00PM-07:00PM 32-124

Enrollment: email if you think you can go
Attendance: Repeating event, participants welcome at any session

ZOOM was the PBS network's premier kids show of all time. Original cast member and now MIT videographer Tom White wants to tell you all about the development and continuing interest in this pioneering interactive show with his documentary "ZOOM - LOST and FOUND". So get your striped shirts on and get ready for some fun!

Sponsor(s): Academic Media Production Services
Contact: Thomas White, NE48-308, 617 599-9414, TPWHITE@MIT.EDU