Lights, Camera... Interaction!

A New Program Featuring Film Screenings Gives Students and Faculty the Chance to Discuss Important Legal and Cultural Issues in an Informal Setting.

New York, April 7, 2014—Coming to a classroom near you: movie night.

 Professors Kathryn Judge and Robert J. Jackson Jr. will host an event Wednesday night on the 2008 economic crisis, but it won’t involve the Socratic method. Instead, the corporate law experts are showing—and discussing—HBO’s Too Big To Fail, a behind-the-scenes look at the crisis based on the book by Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times.
The film is the latest installment in a new movie screening series launched by Columbia Law School Vice Dean and Stanley H. Fuld Professor of Law Gillian E. Metzger '95 and Dean of Students Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin '99. The series is part of an ongoing effort to increase opportunities for students and faculty to interact and discuss important issues outside the confines of conference rooms and lecture halls.
So far this spring, students and faculty have watched five movies: Inherit the Wind, hosted by professors Vincent Blasi, Jamal Greene, Kent Greenawalt, Philip Hamburger, and Jeremy K. Kessler (who is joining the Law School in July); Erin Brockovich, hosted by Center for Climate Change Director Michael B. Gerrard and Environmental Law Clinic Director Edward Lloyd; The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest, with Visiting Professor Bernard E. Harcourt; American Violet, with Professor Kendall Thomas; and The Least of These, with Elora Mukherjee, a clinical teaching fellow and lecturer. Too Big to Fail is the semester’s final movie.
The response so far? Two thumbs up. Juliana Utley, assistant director of student services, coordinates the program and helps set the movie mood, providing everything from posters to popcorn. Greenberg-Kobrin said her office has been flooded by requests from faculty members who want to participate; several films are already scheduled for next year.
The series formally launched this past fall with four movies: Lone Star, presented by Professor Carol Sanger; A Civil Action, hosted by professors Suzanne B. Goldberg, Bert I. Huang, and Olatunde Johnson; Scarlett Road, offered by Professor Elizabeth F. Emens; and The Law in These Parts, with Professor Katherine M. Franke.
The Society for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the Latino/a Law Students Association co-hosted last month’s viewing of The Least of These, a documentary about the detention of immigrant families, with Mukherjee, who recently launched Columbia Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic.
“There’s something about a movie that breaks down professional barriers between people,” said Allegra A. Noonan ’15, vice president of the society.
Noonan said Mukherjee, who worked on the litigation featured in the film as a staff attorney at the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, introduced the film and talked to students about the constitutional claims at issue.

“It was very clear she was open to follow up questions from anyone,” Noonan said. “I think the film series is a great way for professors and students to interact in a different setting.”