Reel Talk gives students, faculty, and staff the chance to bring their learning and their faith to bear on perhaps the most culturally influential medium in American society—film. Reel Talk selects popular films loaded with difficult social, philosophical, or theological questions and follows each viewing with a discussion led by Westmont faculty and staff. Admission is free and open to the public. Reel Talk is cosponsored by the Gaede Institute and the Office of Campus Life.



Previous Reel Talks



Movie PosterFruitvale Station


Thursday, April 3, 7:30pm


Page Multipurpose Room


Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature at the 2013 Sundace Film Festival, "Fruitvale Station" follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions to be a better son, partner, and father. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year's Day. As film critic David Denby writes, Oscar's story invites us to consider the enragingly persistent question: "What is the value of a young black man's life?"

(adapted from and; image copyright The Weinstein Company)


It's an honor to have with us for this screening Trestin George, former professional football player and actor in the film. As Trestin told Westmont in San Francisco students this year, but for a few key people in his life and his relationship with God, Oscar Grant's fate could easily have been his. Brad Berky will moderate a question and answer time with Trestin following the film.



Linsanity: The MovieLinsanity


Thursday, Feb. 6, 7:30pm


Page Multipurpose Room


As part of Westmont's Global Focus Week, "Beyond Colorblind," we will be viewing and discussing Linsantity, the story of NBA player Jeremy Lin. The film is an intimate portrayal of a rising hero fighting unbeatable odds.


What began as a film project to document the life of an overlooked NBA walk-on became an all-access pass to one of the unlikeliest stories ever to be told. Before Linsanity, film-makers were documenting a struggling basketball player and the wild turn of events he was leading. Viewers will see how each seemingly unconventional turn became the foundation for the next opportunity -- weaving together an impossible story that could only have ever happened that exact way. (from


20 Feet From Stardom


20 Feet from Stardom


Thursday, Nov. 21, 7:00 pm


Page Multipurpose Room


Hosted by Toya Cooper


Millions know their voices, but no one knows their names. In his compelling new film, Twenty Feet from Stardom, award-winning director Morgan Neville shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. (From


In anticipation, join Toya for a Listening Party!
Tuesday, Nov. 19, open house format 6-8 pm

In the Kerr Student Center Founders Room


Enjoy music from the film, visual/textual representations of vocalist from the film and periods they represent (50s-2000s), as well as topical teaser-cards to give a sense of context for each decade represented in the film.  Topics include: Entertainment, Science & Technology, World Events, Women in the Workplace and The Color Line.

42: The Jackie Robinson Story


Thursday, Sept 26, 7:30 pm, Page Multipurpose Room




Hosted by Provost Mark Sargent


Hero is a word we hear often in sports, but heroism is not always about achievements on the field of play. "42" tells the story of two men—the great Jackie Robinson and legendary Brooklyn Dodgers GM Branch Rickey—whose brave stand against prejudice forever changed the world by changing the game of baseball. (From


FALL 2012


EPIPHANIES hosted by the Provost Office



Oct. 2 - Porter Theatre - 8:30pm


Faculty and staff, John Blondell, Lisa DeBoer, Wayne Iba, Heather Keaney, Jim Wright, and Mark Sargent shared clips from films that meant a great deal to them personally, and discussed what they found moving or challenging in the cinematic moment.







SELMA LORD SELMA  hosted by Intercultural Organizations




January 26 - Adams 216 - 7pm


In 1965 Alabama, an 11 year old girl (Jurnee Smollett) is touched by a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. (Clifton Powell) and becomes a devout follower. But her resolution is tested when she joins others in the famed march from Selma to Montgomery.


Intercultural Organizations (ICOs) is an umbrella for several groups that exist to support, educate and celebrate different cultures and perspectives among students. The purpose of ICOs is two-fold: 1). to provide a space for students of similar background to come together for support and fellowship and; 2)  to give all students the opportunity to build new friendships and to learn about and value different cultures, histories and perspectives of others.

WAITING FOR SUPERMAN  hosted by Urban Initiative


A documentary by Davis Guggenheim



February 1 - Adams 216 - 7pmUrban Initiative



The Urban Initiative aims to introduce students to the often harsh realities of inner-city life while seeking to demonstrate Christlike compassion to the impoverished both in body and spirit there. The Urban Initiative also hosts both campus events and urban experiential opportunities throughout the school year to promote discussion and understanding of issues that plague the inner-city, such as racism and poverty.

MISS REPRESENTATION  co-hosted by Dr. Deborah Dunn, Westmont's Gender Lecture Series, the office of Residence Life, and the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts. 


A documentary by Jennifer Siebel Newsom Miss Rep Poster


February 9 - Page Hall MPR - 7pm



Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation (90 min; TV-14 DL) uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.


Cheri Larsen Hoeckley is Professor of English and Coordinator of Gender Studies at Westmont. She received her PhD from UC Berkeley and specializes in Victorian literature, women writers, and the novel.  

Bag It  hosted by "Westmont Reads: Moby Duck"


A documentary by Suzan Beraza Bag It Pic


March 8 - Adams 216 - 7pm



Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes-single-use disposable bags that we mindlessly throw away. But where is "away?" Where do the bags and other plastics end up, and at what cost to our environment, marine life and human health? Bag It follows "everyman" Jeb Berrier as he navigates our plastic world. Jeb is not a radical environmentalist, but an average American who decides to take a closer look at our cultural love affair with plastics. Jeb's journey in this documentary film starts with simple questions: Are plastic bags really necessary? What are plastic bags made from? What happens to plastic bags after they are discarded? Jeb looks beyond plastic bags and discovers that virtually everything in modern society-from baby bottles, to sports equipment, to dental sealants, to personal care products-is made with plastic or contains potentially harmful chemical additives used in the plastic-making process. When Jeb's journey takes a personal twist, we see how our crazy-for-plastic world has finally caught up with us and what we can do about it. Today. Right now.


The purpose of Westmont Reads is to involve students, faculty and staff in conversations that bring awareness to larger issues off campus and to encourage the exchange of ideas across disciplines and among the greater Santa Barbara community by reading and discussing one book together. Other institutions involved include U. C. Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Community College, Antioch University, and the Santa Barbara Public Library. Participation in the interdisciplinary discussions the book generates will encourage further engagement in the Christian liberal arts nature of campus life at Westmont College.  


THE TREE OF LIFE  hosted by Dr. Jamie Friedman


Written and directed by Terrence Malick


April 12 - Adams 216 - 7pm


The story of a midwestern family in the 1950s and the ensuing years as the eldest son, Jack (Sean Pean), reconciles his childhood relationship with his father (Brad Pitt) with the disallusionment of adulthood. 


Jamie Friedman completed her Ph.D. at Cornell University, specializing in medieval English literature, embodiment, and theories of racial, religious, and gendered identity constructions. 



                                   FALL 2011


FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN  hosted by Emmaus Road's

Global Focus Week: Conflict and Reconciliation

Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel


November 1 - Page Hall - 7pm


The story of former UVF member Alistair Little (Liam Neeson). Twenty-five years after Little killed Joe Griffen's brother, the media arrange an auspicious meeting between the two.


During the academic year, Emmaus Road facilitates, hosts, and oversees Global Focus Week -- a full-scale event on campus seeking to both explore complex global issues and promote awareness and excitement about incarnational ministry locally and abroad!  This year, Global Focus Week focuses on conflict and the possibilities for reconciliation in our world.

ISRAEL VS. ISRAEL  hosted by Dr. Bruce Fisk

Directed by Terje Carlsson


October 21 - Adams Center 216 - 7pm


Special Q & A with film's director, Terje Carlsson.


A documentary on Israeli peace activists seeking a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This critically acclaimed film has been invited to festivals and special screenings around the world and has already won several awards:

* The Public Liberties and Human Rights Award at the Al Jazeera Documentary Festival 2011
* President of the Festival – Special Award at the One Shot ISFF Festival, 2011
* The Best Documentary at the 2011 Turkish Radio and Television Documentary Awards


Bruce Fisk is professor of religious studies at Westmont College.  Dr. Fisk earned his Ph.D. at Duke University and holds an M.A. in New Testament and an M. Div., both from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Dr. Fisk has led countless abroad programs to the middle east and europe.

SHELTER  hosted by Dr. Jon Lemmond

Produced by Brandon Birtell and Paul Walker


October 20 - Adams Center 216 - 7pm


A documentary on homelessness in Santa Barbara. Watch the film about our Santa Barbara neighbors and learn about opportunities to serve with Project Healthy Neighbors


Q & A with social workers Ken Williams and Jeff Shaffer.



SENSE & SENSIBILITY  hosted by Dr. Cheri Larsen Hoeckley

Directed by Ang Lee

Adapted for the screen by Emma Thompson


September 22 - Adams Center 216 - 7pm


Adapted from the novel by Jane Austin, the story follows two sisters, complete opposites and compliments, as they adjust to simple living after the death of their father and loss of any monetary security.


Cheri Larsen Hoeckley is Professor of English and Coordinator of Gender Studies at Westmont. She received her PhD from UC Berkeley and specializes in Victorian literature, women writers, and the novel.



                                  SPRING 2011


GRAN TORINO hosted by Joshua Canada & Dr. Telford Work   

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Written by Nick Schenk & Dave Johannson


April 28 - Adams Center 216 - 7pm


Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a Korean War Veteran who sets out to reform his Hmong teenage neighbor after he tries to steal his Gran Torino.


Joshua Canada is the Resident Director for Armington Hall at Westmont College; he received his M.A. in higher education from Taylor University.  Dr. Work is a professor of theology at Westmont; he received his PhD in theology and ethics from Duke University.

CONTACT hosted by Dr. Wayne Iba  

Directed by Robert Zemeckis

Based on the novel by Carl Sagan


January 21 - Porter Theatre - 7pm


When Dr. Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) discovers radio evidence of intelligent life, she must prove to her colleagues, her country, and herself that encountering the unknown requires a courageous yet terrifying leap of faith.  Also starring Mathew McConaughey and David Morse.


Before joining Westmont College as a professor of computer science, Dr. Iba worked as a Research Scientist in the Artificial Intelligence group at the NASA Ames Research Center.  He earned his PhD in information and computer science focusing on machine learning at the University of California, Irvine. 


THE SOLOIST hosted by The Jonah Project & Urban Initiative

Directed by Joe Wright

Based on the novel by Steve Lopez


February 28 - Porter Theatre - 7pm


Robert Downey Jr. plays a Los Angeles journalist who forms an unexpected friendship with a homeless Juliiard-trained musician (Jamie Foxx).



The Jonah Project is a non-denominational Christian organization dedicated to helping the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles.  Patrick and Mary Ersig, who joined The Jonah Project in 2007, will lead the discussion after the film.  The Urban Initiative is a Westmont student-led organization that seeks to educate the Westmont community about the social climate of our urban neighbors and provides opportunities for service in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. 


THE MISSION hosted by Dr. Christian Hoeckley   

Directed by Roland Joffé

Written by Robert Bolt


March 25 - Adams Center 216 - 7pm


An 18th Century Spanish Jesuit Priest (Jeremy Irons) and a converted mercenary and slaver (Robert DeNiro) work to protect a South American native tribe from pro-slave Portuguese rule.  Also starring Liam Neeson and Aidan Quinn.


Dr. Hoeckley is the Director of the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts.  He has a PhD in philosophy from the Claremont Graduate School. Dr. Hoeckley presents his Phi Kappa Phi lecture, "Peace that Passes Understanding: Four Paths to Opposing War" this spring.