The Screening Room: Films at NCTE

Sponsored by the Media and Digital Literacies Collaborative

Open to all NCTE conference attendees

Saturday, November 23, 2013 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Hynes Convention Center, Hynes Convention Center/Room 300, Level Three


Mary T. Christel, Indian Trails Public Library, Wheeling, Illinois

Jane Nickerson, Gallaudet University, Washington, DC

Nathan Phillips, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL


Frank W. Baker, Media Literacy Clearinghouse, Inc., Columbia, South Carolina

M. Elizabeth Kenney, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois


Frank W. Baker, Media Literacy Clearinghouse, Inc., Columbia, South Carolina

Laura Brown, Adlai E. Stevenson High School, Lincolnshire, Illinois

Jen Powers, Green Mountain College, Poultney, Vermont

Alan Teasley, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

NCTE screens recent feature films and award-winning short films.  All films featured in the screening room can become springboards for classroom study.  As noted below, some of the films intersect with the various NCTE strands. Materials about additional educational films that teachers may consider using for their classes will also be supplied.

For more information about the films screened today, please see the NCTE Film Festival Web site:



Time                        Title/Length/Distributor/Audience Level/Brief Description

NCTE is proud to kick off this year’s film screenings with THE GREAT GATSBY: MIDNIGHT IN MANHATTAN, a documentary about F. Scott Fitzgerald.  This screening is sponsored by BBC Home Entertainment, which premiered this documentary on May 7, 2013. 

9:00 a.m. – 9:41 a.m. The Great Gatsby: Midnight in Manhattan (41 minutes) 

BBC Home Entertainment – Middle School – High School – College

The novel The Great Gatsby has only increased in popularity since it was initially published in 1925, with its author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, holding nearly as much of the public’s fascination. An emblem of the roaring ‘20s, Fitzgerald’s personal story is as iconic as his writing. With narration from Tara Fitzgerald and featuring contributions by the author’s granddaughter Eleanor Lanahan, plus writers Hunter S. Thompson, George Plimpton, Jay McInerney, and more, this program presents a fascinating portrait of an enduring American icon.

The Great Gatsby: Midnight in Manhattan, produced in celebration of the 75th Anniversary of The Great Gatsby for the BBC’s acclaimed art series Omnibus, explores the life and dark creative spirit of its writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald. It examines his disappointing college days at Princeton, his difficult relationship with fellow author Ernest Hemingway, and his turbulent last days in Hollywood. It dispels the age-old mythology surrounding Fitzgerald, largely created by himself, which tends to glamorize the Jazz-Age and his alcoholism.  The DVD is available for purchase at this website:


The second film is an exciting documentary about Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance.  Langston Hughes encouraged many poets, writers, and musicians throughout his life and as viewers watch this film they will learn about how he paved the way for many poets of today. This film intersects with the Rainbow Strand.

9:46 a.m. – 10:46 a.m. Hughes’ Dream Harlem (60 minutes)

            California Newsreel – Elementary – Middle School – High School - College

Langston Hughes was one of the most prominent figures of the Harlem Renaissance and is often referred to as Harlem's poet laureate. This film shows how Hughes successfully fused jazz, blues, and common speech to celebrate the beauty of Black life. Hughes' Dream Harlem presents a vision of the esteemed poet in present-day Harlem and makes an important case for Hughes' impact on hip-hop and the spoken-word community.

This multi-layered documentary includes roundtable discussions of his contributions and a tour of Hughes' Harlem hangouts. The distinguished actor and activist Ossie Davis offers the narration in his soulful baritone, while his wife and collaborator, the renowned Ruby Dee, reflects on Hughes' life with such notable personalities as poet Sonia Sanchez and music industry icon Damon Dash. The artists testify to Langston Hughes’ continuing impact on their work and his steadfast racial pride and artistic independence.  Hughes' Dream Harlem will inspire students of all ages to discover Hughes' work while encouraging them to pursue their own writing.  For additional information about this film, check this website:


NCTE DIRECTOR SPOTLIGHT – We are proud to present an award winning new film by a talented young director named Eli Sasich who will inspire creative writers and filmmakers who aspire to tell their stories.  HENRi is an emotionally powerful short film starring Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey) and Margot Kidder (Superman), which explores human existence at the most fundamental level—what it means to be a conscious individual.  


Director Sasich started making films at a young age, some of which were for his classes at Judge Memorial Catholic High School in Salt Lake City, Utah under the guidance of Ms. Linda Simpson.  NCTE is proud that this talented young director got inspiration for making films in his English classes.  This is a must-see film for all teachers who focus on creative writing and filmmaking.  


10:51 a.m. – 11:12 a.m. HENRi (21 minutes)


Blufire Studios – Elementary - Middle School – High School – College

HENRi is a science-fiction film that takes viewers hundreds of years into the future, when a derelict spacecraft, controlled and powered by a human brain, floats aimlessly in the outer reaches of space.  HENRi, the name of the ship's power system, is an acronym that stands for Hybrid electronic/Neuron Responsive Intelligence.  Trapped in the cold, mechanical prison of the vessel, HENRi gradually begins to experience disjointed images of his former life—images he cannot understand.  Carrying the remains of a crew long dead, and becoming increasingly self-aware, HENRI devises a plan to build himself a mechanical body from parts of the ship.  Maybe then he will understand the images he is seeing—maybe then he will feel alive.  HENRi is a completely unique and visually stunning short film.  Director Eli Sasich used puppets, animation, and live action as he created his film.  For more information about this film, check this website:


We are proud to showcase Bill Plympton’s remastered edition of Winsor McCay’s 1921 classic animated film, The Flying House. English teachers at all levels will enjoy showing this film to students as it demonstrates a unique and creative way to tell a story.  The film features the story of woman’s dream about how to escape foreclosure by heading to the skies with her husband as they use their house as a vehicle.


11:17 a.m. – 11:26 a.m. The Flying House (9 minutes)


            Bill Plympton Studio - Elementary - Middle School – High School – College

Winsor McCay is considered by many to be the “father of animation.” He is probably best known for his newspaper comic strip, Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905-1914 and 1924-1927) and the animated short film, Gertie the Dinosaur (1914). His work influenced countless generations of illustrators and animators including Walt Disney.


In 1921, Winsor McCay created one of his greatest short films, The Flying House. Unfortunately for animation history, his boss William Randolph Hearst felt that the talented artist was neglecting his drawing duties at the paper, and demanded that he stop making films. So, sadly, The Flying House was McCay's last film.


Bill Plympton discovered The Flying House a few years ago while watching a collection of McCay’s works on an old videocassette tape. He was amazed by the humor, great storytelling, and of course, the superior draftsmanship.  But, all that was hindered by too many intertitles, word balloons, and the lack of color, music, and sound. The biggest problem with the film was the terrible condition of the print. It had been neglected and badly handled for nearly 90 years. Plympton restored and updated the film for a new generation by cleaning and coloring each frame, recording actors Patricia Clarkson and Matthew Modine as voices for the two leading characters, and hiring a musician and sound editor to add a stirring new soundtrack to complement the beautifully restored picture.  Viewers at today’s screening will see Plympton’s new creation of McCay’s delightful story in The Flying House.  For more information, check this website:


We are pleased to present two films that focus on media literacy and journalism.  The first film captures the beauty and excitement of electric signs and their messages as it looks at city life from many perspectives.  Director Alice Arnold’s film is especially terrific for teachers who want to include more advertising and media literacy lessons in their classes.  Accompanying materials for teachers will be provided. The second film, Deadline Every Second, focuses on top photojournalists who cover war, political clashes, financial markets, natural disasters, sports, and human-interest stories. 

11:31 a.m. – 12:29 p.m. ELECTRIC SIGNS (58 minutes)

Icarus Films - Middle School – High School – College

New screen-based sign systems are putting TV-style advertising into the public domain in cities around the globe.  These electronic signs are re-shaping urban environments and re-defining areas of public space by intensifying the commercialization of the public sphere.  Screens are also ubiquitous in work spaces and in people’s daily life activities.  These seamless, illuminated electronic surfaces are becoming the devices through which we frame our experiences.  ELECTRIC SIGNS explores this new screen culture as it unfolds in the global city.

The film’s narrator, a city observer modeled on the critic Walter Benjamin, takes viewers on a journey through a variety of urban landscapes, examining public spaces and making connections between light, perception, and the culture of attractions in today’s consumer society.

The film is structured as a documentary essay in the spirit of city symphony films, and features footage in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, New York, and other cities around the world.  Also featured are interviews with prominent lighting designers, advertising and marketing professionals, urban sociologists and visual culture experts, and community activists.  For more information about this film check this website:

12:34 p.m. – 1:32 p.m. Deadline Every Second: On Assignment with 12 Associated Press photojournalists - (58 minutes)

            Ken Kobre Photography - Middle School – High School - College

Filmmakers Ken Kobré and John Hewitt take viewers behind the scenes with twelve top photojournalists of the Associated Press, the world’s largest news picture agency.  Viewers will come in close with some of the world’s top AP photographers on assignment. These photographers represent the hundreds of AP photojournalists who record the memorable pictures you see in newspapers, magazines and on the Web—one million individual pictures a year viewed in more than 15,000 news outlets.  This film is a must-see for all teachers and students interested in reporting the news through the perspective of photographers.

In Deadline Every Second, photojournalists on assignment describe the intricate process of covering sports, features, and political events. They share their strategies for capturing just the right moment—and you’re there with them at the center of the action.  This film has 5 episodes focusing on the news from routine to extraordinary: earthquakes and wildfires, bicycling and basketball, presidents and pilgrims, combat and clashes.  Deadline Every Second will change how viewers look at news images, especially if they bear the credit AP Photo.  The following website provides additional information about this film:


NCTE is pleased to present WONDER WOMEN! THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICAN SUPERHEROINES, an award-winning film, which traces the fascinating evolution and legacy of Wonder Woman. From the birth of the comic book super heroine in the 1940s to the blockbusters of today, WONDER WOMEN! looks at how popular representations of powerful women often reflect society’s anxieties about women’s liberation.




New Day Films – Middle School – High School – College

WONDER WOMEN! goes behind the scenes with Lynda Carter, Lindsay Wagner, comic writers and artists, and real-life super heroines such as Gloria Steinem, Kathleen Hanna and others, who offer an enlightening and entertaining counterpoint to the male-dominated superhero genre.  For more information about this film, check this website:


The next featured film was an Academy Award® nominee in 2011 (Best Documentary Short Subject) that focuses on the life of Robynn Murray, an all-American high school cheerleader who became the poster girl for women in combat.  Since returning from Iraq, she has fought an insidious foe: post-traumatic stress disorder. 

2:37 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Poster Girl (38 minutes)

            Portrayal Films – Middle School – High School – College

Director Sara Nesson follows Robynn over the course of two years as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery and redemption through art and poetry.  In 2006, PTSD was not a household term and yet it was a problem for thousands of young men and women sent to war with no plan for their care after their return. Fast-forward to 2012 and 18 veterans are committing suicide every single day. How is it that everyone supports our troops but not our veterans when they come home?  This film is a response to the cultural disconnect between veterans and civilians. Director Nesson wanted to bridge that gap by showing the struggle and healing journey of one person. In this film, viewers get to know Robynn Murray, whose voice is so powerful as she becomes a voice for the thousands of veterans struggling alone with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  For more information about this film, check this website:


NCTE is proud to showcase two films that share insights and information about areas near Boston.  The first film, Poetry of Resilience, by Academy-award nominated director Katja Esson focuses on how poetry has changed the lives of several survivors of political atrocities.  The second film, We Still Live Here, by Anne Makepeace features the Wampanoag Tribes of Cape Cod.  This film has been broadcast on PBS on Independent Lens as it explains how Jessie Little Doe Baird, a linguist, has brought back the native language to Martha's Vineyard as Jessie taught her young daughter Mae to become the first native speaker of Wampanoag in a century. These films intersect with the Rainbow Strand.

3:20 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Poetry of Resilience (40 minutes)

            Women Make Movies – Middle School – High School – College

In a small gathering in a Massachusetts town, 27 poets have come together for the first time to share their experiences as survivors of political atrocities.  The poets' tales all vary, but they are united by the drive to bear witness to their past, and to continue the process of healing.


Academy-award nominated director Katja Esson's exquisitely made film highlights six of the poets, journeying with them to memorial sites in Poland, Rwanda, and Hiroshima, and hearing their life stories in both poetry and prose.  We witness the contrast between the voyages back to the poets’ home countries with their experiences of immigration and exile.  As we follow these survivors into their past and present lives we learn that they write for different reasons: to remember, to take revenge, to curse, to forgive, to honor, to commemorate, to transcend. The film's strength comes from its collective voice: different political conflicts, cultures, genders, ages, races, but one shared human experience. For all, poetry was the gift that restored.

For more information about this film, check this website:


4:04 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. We Still Live Here (56 minutes)


            Bullfrog Films – Elementary – Middle School – High School – College


Celebrated every Thanksgiving as the Indians who saved the Pilgrims from starvation, and then largely forgotten, the Wampanoag Tribes of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard are now saying loud and clear, and in their Native tongue, Âs Nutayuneân, We Still Live Here.


The Wampanoag’s ancestors ensured the survival of the English settlers known as Pilgrims, and lived to regret it.  Now a cultural revival is taking place.  Spurred on by their celebrated linguist, Jessie Little Doe Baird, recent winner of a MacArthur award, the Wampanoag are bringing their language home.


Like many Native American stories, this one begins with a vision.  Years ago, Jessie began having recurring dreams: familiar-looking people from another time speaking in an incomprehensible language.  These visions sent her on an odyssey that would uncover hundreds of documents written in Wampanoag, lead her to a Masters in Linguistics at MIT, and result in an unprecedented feat of language reclamation by her people.  Jessie’s daughter Mae is the first Native speaker of Wampanoag in a century.  For more information about this film, check this website:



For more information about the films screened today, please see the NCTE Film Festival Web site.