Fall 2018

Past Events

November 01, 2018


The Katharina Otto-Bernstein Screening Room
Lenfest Center for the Arts
615 W. 129 St.
New York, NY 10027


Screening followed by a conversation with Astra TaylorChenjerai Kumanyika, Rutgers University, and Nicholas Lemann, Columbia Journalism School.


Coming at a moment of profound political and social crisis, the film What Is Democracy? reflects on a word we too often take for granted.


Director Astra Taylor’s idiosyncratic, philosophical journey spans millennia and continents: from ancient Athens’ groundbreaking experiment in self-government to capitalism’s roots in medieval Italy; from modern-day Greece grappling with financial collapse and a mounting refugee crisis to the United States reckoning with its racist past and the growing gap between rich and poor.


Featuring a diverse cast—including celebrated theorists, trauma surgeons, activists, factory workers, asylum seekers, and former prime ministers—this urgent film connects the past and the present, the emotional and the intellectual, the personal and the political, in order to provoke and inspire. If we want to live in democracy, we must first ask what the word even means.


Co-presented by Columbia Journalism School and the Urban and Social Policy Concentration, SIPA