I spoke about Whiplash (2014). I elaborated upon the reasons for my choice in my illustrated presentation: Whiplash chronicles the relationship between a jazz drummer student, Andrew, and his conservatory studio band conductor, Terence Fletcher.
Fletcher bullies and humiliates his students routinely, believing that greatness is achieved only by pushing beyond one's limits. The film brilliantly portrays a dilemma in the philosophy of education, i.e. how hard should one work to be the best, and what are the consequences? Is criticism a better vehicle than praise? The societal pendulum has swung from the days of "you either have talent or you don't" to tiger parents and the conviction that anything is achievable through hard work.
Whiplash makes no cases: it merely observes and leaves the question unresolved, and yet in doing so it sparks a plethora of starting points in discussions about education methods. The film and my talk did, indeed, trigger thoughtful responses from the other Ertegun Scholars.
One of the great joys of the Cultural Conversations series is the opportunity to share something you had kept to yourself for a while. When I first saw the Passion of Andalucía, by director Brendan Li, I just knew everyone had to see it. It is an extraordinary blend of cinematic innovation, colour, light, and sound. I introduced it to the audience as having my three favourite things: flamenco dance, flamenco music, and joyous religious celebrations.
The film captures the rich cultural features of Andalusia against the backdrop of music from Califato 3/4. It focuses on the characters who make it possible, from the craftsmen designing guitars to the singers in market theatres. I suggested that the message of this film is that we must recognise the people who make 'culture happen’. The film culminates with the festival of the Virgin del Mar, a procession that brings a statue of the Virgin Mary to the sea. No matter your personal beliefs, you will feel goose-bumps. It was a pleasure to share the joy of this short film with my Ertegun friends.