Bioethics Blogs

Notes on the Mill Valley Film Festival, 2014

I saw 19 films at the 2014, 36th Annual Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF36) this October. After the first five films on my list I realized a pattern which the festival’s programmers had not intentionally planned. There were at two major groups that stood out with some that crossed both.

One group of films dealt with people with Enormous Skill, or Promise, Meeting Extraordinary Adversity. They all in some way reflected the relationship between the brain and the mind or how the mind deals with the stress the brain transmits.  The dissolution of the Brain-Mind paradox also reflects ways in which new science, particularly neuroscience, is creating broader social inclusion of individuals with circumstances which previously, historically, would have stigmatized them; autism spectrum traits, physical disabilities, gender differences.

Beneficence – or doing “good” with knowledge, including technology, is Beneficence. I consider these films to illustrate “doing good” with knowledge. I call this set of films ‘Promise meets Adversity,’ They include: THE IMITATION GAME,  STATES OF GRACE, THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING, IMPERIAL DREAMS and MOMMY.  None of these were comedies but they are all very good.

A second large group of movies at MVFF36 thematically dealt with issues of Proxy Parenting. Who best raises a child? Ethically, we consider that parents represent the best interest of their children, unless proven otherwise.  These films pondered more questions than they answered but Then if not the parent – who? Sometimes the best a parent can do is to select others to act in their stead. Working parents do it all the time, if it can be afforded.  Overwhelmed parents do it also.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.