Schwarzenegger Institute Brings New Film Series to USC
By Nathaniel Haas
USC Schwarzenegger Institute founder Arnold Schwarzenegger understands the power of film and media to impact public policy and debate better than most policy leaders in the world. The Governor often uses the John Travolta movie Saturday Night Fever as an example.
“For years I tried to fight obesity and get people motivated to go to the gym and exercise, and then John Travolta made disco dancing look cool in Saturday Night Fever and suddenly discos are opening up all over the place,” he said. “So millions of young people are going out dancing and having fun, without thinking of it as working out or being healthy.
This October, the USC Schwarzenegger Institute will launch its Schwarzenegger Screening Series.
In the Schwarzenegger Screening Series, beginning on October 8, The Schwarzenegger Institute will turn to the power of documentary flim to illustrate important policy areas by telling powerful stories and stimulating thoughtful discussion. The monthly presentations of screenings and discussions will bring students, filmmakers, USC faculty, and the public together to have meaningful dialogue about the powerful impact of documentaries on political change. Each documentary will cover a particular aspect of the Institute’s policy areas: environment, health and wellness, education, fiscal and economy.
Bonnie Reiss, Global Director of the Schwarzenegger Institute and former Senior Advisor to Governor Schwarzenegger and California Secretary of Education, remembers how Arnold always recognized the importance and power of communicating directly with the people of California.
“Arnold believed in direct democracy, going outside California to sell important policy ideas directly to the people, and not getting caught up inside the politics of Sacramento,” she said. “He took much of what he learned in the movie business to help advance important policy ideas, and the Schwarzenegger Institute also understands the importance of using film and media to advance policy ideas”
The goal of the USC Schwarzenegger Institute since its inaugural symposium in 2012 has never faded from sight: to move beyond politics in favor of policy. In its mission statement, the Institute commits itself to “addressing the concept of ‘post-partisanship’ in the modern policymaking world.”
The Schwarzenegger Screening Series, in keeping with the Schwarzenegger Institute’s mission, promises to be filled with conversation from both sides of the isle. Though each documentary has a different perspective, the Institute is committed to encourage a discussion that incorporates a diverse range of views on the issues presented in the films. Following each screening, a panel including a filmmaker or actor in the documentary and several other guests will engage the audience in a discussion of the issues raised in the presentation.
Special Guests to Attend First Screening
The USC Schwarzenegger Institute, in partnership with the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy, is excited to announce the screening of the first film, HBO's Alive Day Memories, at the USC Gould School of Law on October 8, 2013. The film will run from 4:30-6:30 and cap off a day long conference on Veterans Affairs. California Secretary of Veterans Affairs Peter Gravett will make comments and filmmakers Matthew O;Neil, Jon Alpert and Retired Army Captain Dawn Halfaker, who is featured in the film, will attend a post-film discussion to answer questions in a round table discussion.
The Institute is excited to launch this screening series and offer great documentaries and opportunity to talk with the filmmakers to USC students and the USC community. USC has some of the greatest professors and scholars teaching its students and the Institute is pleased to offer this to add to the many ways USC students get to learn about important issues facing our world. Many of the featured documentaries have huge social action campaigns attached to them, which the Institute feels is an interesting approach to share with the USC community. Following the October 8th screening the Institute will be bringing other great documentaries focused on important policy areas to the USC Community in the spring semester.
Global Director Bonnie Reiss says the goal of the Schwarzenegger Screening Series is an important part of the Institute’s mission. As she puts it, "The Schwarzenegger Institute is at the cross-section of policy, education and media and is excited to explore all the possibilities that come with this."