The Graduate Institute in Liberal Education





A Great Books Approach to Great Films



*Applications for the 2015 Film Institute will be accepted through May 31st.*

Session I: June 15 – July 10, 2015

Session II: July 13 – August 7, 2015

NEW! Screenplay Writing Workshop (Session II supplement)


The St. John’s College Graduate Institute invites you to attend the second annual Summer Film Institute in beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico. Join us this summer as we study seminal films as works of visual poetry. Experience the St. John’s College Great Books tradition of thoughtful attention to and careful study of important works, and cultivate the skills necessary to develop a better appreciation of Great Films.

What is the Summer Film Institute?

Great Films are works of visual poetry. As with other forms of poetry, our understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of films can be deepened and enhanced by learning how to see 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 thoughtful attention to and careful reading of Great Books as practiced at St. John’s College, the Summer Film Institute is dedicated to cultivating the skills necessary to become better readers of Great Films. 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, and character development. We will study technical aspects of filmmaking such as shots, cuts, framing, lighting, sound, editing, camera angle, set design, acting, directing and screenplay writing. We will also read from classic works of aesthetic theory and film criticism.


What are the components of the program?

  • Participants will discuss and analyze some of the greatest works in cinema history. Each 4-week session will focus on the work of four major directors, with films spanning the history of cinema. Session I (June 15 – July 10) examines the works of Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Luis Buñuel. Session II (July 13 – August 7) studies Alfred Hitchcock, Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini, and Federico Fellini. Click here for the full session schedules.
  • The program models the classroom styles practiced at St. John’s College (seminars and tutorials), which follow the Socratic method of shared inquiry. In general, seminar discussions (M-W-F) will address broader issues, whereas tutorials (T-Th) will offer closer examinations with more attention to detail. Classroom  discussions will focus on specific films alongside relevant readings of criticism and analysis.
  • One morning per week, a lecture, talk, or workshop led by an industry expert or professional will help students appreciate the technical aspects of filmmaking.
  • An optional four-week workshop on intermediate/advanced screenwriting is being offered during Session II. (This has an additional fee and separate application process.) Click here for workshop details.
  • There will be evening and weekend screenings of all films covered in the program.

How much does it cost?

$2,540 for one 4-week session

$4,980 for both 4-week sessions

$3,000 for the Screenplay Writing Workshop, if enrolled in a session

$5,000 for the Screenplay Writing Workshop alone

A few stipends may be available to college students who demonstrate financial need.

Is on-campus housing available?

Yes, but there is limited availability and priority is given to those enrolled in both sessions. Because the dormitories do not have kitchens, housing packages include a meal plan. Anticipated housing costs are $2450-$2950 for eight weeks and $1300-$1500 for four weeks, depending on the meal plan selected. If you are interested in living on-campus, please contact us as soon as possible.

Is financial aid available?

The Summer Film Institute is currently not-for-credit, therefore financial aid is not available at this time.

How big will classes be? Who will teach them?

  • Class size is limited to 20 students to ensure a more engaged learning environment. Classes are held in the afternoons, Mon-Fri.
  • All classes are taught by full-time St. John's College faculty, whom we call “tutors” instead of “professors” because their chief role in the classroom is to guide rather than to lecture. No adjunct faculty or teaching assistants will be responsible for any classroom instruction.
  • Weekly talks, conversations, and workshops will be led by guest speakers, specialists, and industry professionals on a wide range of topics related to filmmaking and the film industry.
  • Screenings will be offered in the evenings and on weekends.


How do I apply?

Download the application here, email, or call 505-984-6050 or for an application. There is no application fee."

Include with your application a written account of your past experience with the St. John’s College Seminar method of discussion, and/or an account of your interest in studying film as a liberal art and engaging in the Socratic method of classroom discussion (as opposed to lecture classes). If you are applying for a stipend, please also give an account of your financial circumstances.

For Screenplay Writing Workshop information and application procedures, click here.


Early submission is strongly encouraged; each session is limited to 20 participants. Admissions decisions will begin in early January and will be completed by March 31, 2015.

A deposit of $500 is required to secure your position, and is due two weeks after your acceptance.

Space is limited – APPLY NOW!

2015 Summer Film Institute

Schedule of Seminars and Tutorials



June 15 – July 10, 2015


Every Tuesday & Thursday    3:45-5:15pm

All Four Weeks: Orson Welles

Citizen Kane (1941)

Touch of Evil (1958)


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

Aristotle, Poetics

André Bazin, Orson Welles: A Critical View



Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday    3:30-5:30pm


Week 1: Charlie Chaplin

Mon (6/15): The Gold Rush (1925)

Wed (6/17): City Lights (1931)

Fri (6/19): Modern Times (1936)


James Agee, “Comedy’s Greatest Era”

André Bazin, “Charlie Chaplin,” in What Is Cinema?, Vol. I


Week 2: Buster Keaton

Mon (6/22): Sherlock Jr. (1924)

Wed (6/24): Seven Chances (1925)

Fri (6/26): The General (1926)


André Bazin, “The Ontology of the Photographic Image”


Week 3: Comedy Shorts and Surrealism

Mon (6/29): Chaplin, “One A.M.” (1916);  Keaton, “One Week” (1921)

Wed (7/1): Chaplin, “The Pawnshop” (1916); Keaton, “Cops” (1922); Luis Buñuel, “Un Chien Andalou” (1929)

Fri (7/3): Buñuel, “The Exterminating Angel” (1962)


André Bazin, “Buñuel,” in The Cinema of Cruelty


Week 4: Luis Buñuel

Mon (7/6): Belle de Jour (1967)

Wed (7/8): The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)

Fri (7/10): The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)


Buñuel, My Last Sigh



July 13 – August 7, 2015


Every Tuesday & Thursday    3:45-5:15pm

All Four Weeks: Alfred Hitchcock

Rear Window (1954)

Vertigo (1958)


Hitchcock and Truffaut, Interviews

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

Andre Bazin, “Hitchcock,” in The Cinema of Cruelty



Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday    3:30-5:30pm


Week 5: Vittorio De Sica

Mon (7/13): Bicycle Thieves (1948), aka The Bicycle Thief

Wed (7/15): Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Fri (7/17): Umberto D. (1952)


André Bazin, “Bicycle Thief,”Umberto D.: A Great Work,” & “De Sica: Metteur en Scène” in What Is Cinema?, Vol. II


Week 6: Roberto Rossellini

Mon (7/20): Rome Open City (1945)

Wed (7/22): Rome Open City (1945)

Fri (7/24): Germany Year Zero (1948)


André Bazin, “In Defense of Rossellini,” in What Is Cinema?, Vol. II


Week 7: Roberto Rossellini

Mon (7/27): Stromboli (1950) (Italian version)

Wed (7/29): Europa ’51 (1952) (Italian version)

Fri (7/31): Journey to Italy (1954)


André Bazin, “In Defense of Rossellini,” in What Is Cinema?, Vol. II


Week 8: Federico Fellini

Mon (8/3): Nights of Cabiria (1957)

Wed (8/5): La Dolce Vita (1960)

Fri (8/7): La Dolce Vita (1960)


André Bazin, “Cabiria: The Voyage to the End of Neorealism,” in What Is Cinema?, Vol. II