Film Institue - Apply Now!

The Graduate Institute in Liberal Education


Join us for the 2015 Summer of the St. John’s College Film Institute

June 15 – August 7, 2015


What is the St. John's College Film Institute?

Great movies are works of visual poetry. As with other forms of poetry, our understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of movies can be deepened and enhanced by learning how to see (and read) them better. Seeing isn’t simply a matter of opening one’s eyes. True seeing is a cultivated skill, like eloquence in speech and reasoning in thought. We can learn to see better by increasing our awareness of and sensitivity to what we are looking at. And because seeing is a form of experiencing the world around us, the better we become at seeing, the richer our experience of the world becomes. In the tradition of St. John’s thoughtful attention to and careful reading of the Great Books, The St. John’s College Film Institute is dedicated to cultivating the skills necessary to become better readers of great movies. Over the course of the summer we will develop a number of approaches to the study of film, including consideration and discussion of plot, narrative structure, storyline, character development, and technical aspects of filmmaking such as shots, cuts, framing, lighting, sound, editing, camera angle, set design, acting, directing and screenplay writing.

What kind of classes will we have?

The Film Institute will include 3 main components:

  • Seminars and Preceptorials on movies by major directors supplemented by important works of film criticism and theory.
  • Evening screenings of the films we will be discussing in our Seminars and Tutorials.
  • Morning lectures, talks, discussions and workshops with experts and professionals in the filmmaking industry.

What will we watch? What will we read?

A complete schedule of the 8-week Seminar and Preceptorial program is outlined below. Session One will focus on Orson Welles in the preceptorial and Chaplin, Keaton and Buñuel in the seminar. Session Two will focus on Hitchcock in the preceptoral and de Sica, Rossellini and Fellini in the seminar.

How big will classes be? Who will teach them?

The seminars and tutorials will be limited to a maximum of 20 students. All classes will be led by regular St. John’s faculty. No adjunct faculty or teaching assistants will be responsible for any classroom instruction. However, talks, conversations, and workshops, in addition to the regularly scheduled Seminars and Preceptorials, will be led by guest speakers, specialists and industry professionals on a wide-range of topics related to filmmaking and the film industry.

What is the class schedule?

Seminars: Monday/Wednesday/Friday, 3:30–5:30 p.m.
Tutorials: Tuesday/Thursday, from 3:45–5:15 p.m.

Evening screenings available throughout the week and additional talks, conversations, and workshops from 10a.m.– 12:00pm throughout the summer

How much does it cost? How do I apply?

Tuition for the 8-week program is $4,900. College stipends for current students are available. Applications are available online at here. To apply, fill out the application and email with the following information:

– an account of your past experience with the St. John’s college seminar method of discussion

– an account of your interest in studying film as a liberal art in the context of St. John’s seminars

– if you are applying for a stipend, please give an account of your financial circumstances.

Note: space for the program is limited. Applications are still being accepted, apply now! A deposit of $500 is required to secure your position, due two weeks after your acceptance. A limited amount of on-campus housing is available. 

What is the Schedule of Seminars and Preceptorials?



Preceptorial Weeks 1-4: Orson Welles

Citizen Kane (1941)

Touch of Evil (1958)


     Plato, The Republic Book VII (allegory of the cave)

     Aristotle, Poetics

     Andre Bazin, Orson Welles: A Critical View

     Andre Bazin, “Hitchcock” in The Cinema of Cruelty


Seminar Week One: Charlie Chaplin

Monday: The Gold Rush (1925)

Wednesday: City Lights (1931)

Friday: Modern Times (1936)


     James Agee, “Comedy’s Greatest Era”,

     Andre Bazin, “Charlie Chaplin” from What Is Cinema?


Seminar Week Two: Buster Keaton

Monday: Sherlock, Jr. (1924)

Wednesday: Seven Chances (1925)

Friday: The General (1926)


     Andre Bazin, “The Ontology of the Photographic Image”


Seminar Week Three: Comedy Shorts and Surrealism

Monday: Chaplin, One A.M.;  Keaton One Week (1921)

Wednesday: Chaplin, The Pawnshop; Keaton, Cops (1922); Luis Bunuel, Un Chien Andalou (1929)

Friday: Bunuel, The Exterminating Angel (1962)


     Andre Bazin, “Bunuel” in The Cinema of Cruelty


Seminar Week Four: Luis Buñuel

Monday: Belle de Jour (1967)

Wednesday: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

Friday: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)


     Buñuel, My Last Sigh



Preceptorial Weeks 5-8: Alfred Hitchcock,

Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958)


     Hitchcock and Truffaut, Interviews

     Robin Wood, “Rear Window”; “Vertigo” in Hitchcock’s Films Revisited


Seminar Week Five: Vittorio de Sica

Monday: Vittorio de Sica, Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Wednesday: Bicycle Thieves

Friday: Umberto D. (1952)


     Andre Bazin, “Bicycle Thief”; Umberto D.: A Great Work”; “De Sica: Metteur en Scene” in What Is Cinema?


Seminar Week Six: Roberto Rossellini

Monday: Rome Open City (1945)

Wednesday: Rome Open City

Friday: Germany Year Zero (1948)


     Bazin, “In Defense of Rossellini” in What is Cinema?


Seminar Week Seven: Roberto Rossellini

Monday: Stromboli (1950) (Italian version)

Wednesday: Europa ’51 (1952) (Italian version)

Friday: Journey to Italy (1954)


Seminar Week Eight: Federico Fellini

Monday: Nights of Cabiria

Wednesday: La Dolce Vita

Friday: La Dolce Vita


     Bazin, “Cabiria: The Voyage to the End of Neorealism” in What is Cinema?