1. Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 7:30pm

O Brother, Where Art Thou?” (2000) examines race, incarceration, and politics in Depression-era Mississippi. It was written and directed by the Coen Brothers and is based on “The Odyssey” by Homer. This connection to the great epic Greek poem will offer audiences a chance to examine historical and current events through classical lenses.

  1. Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 7:30pm

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) is widely seen as the best example of dark political comedy on film. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, this black-and-white film is loosely based on the Cold War novel “Red Alert” by Peter George. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards and seven BAFTA Awards (it won four). It is also consistently ranked on the American Film Institute’s list of Top 100 films.

  1. Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 7:30pm

Wag the Dog” (1997) was directed by Barry Levinson and the screenplay was adapted from Larry Beinhart's novel, “American Hero.” The movie portrays a Washington spin doctor who distracts voters from a sex scandal by hiring a film producer to construct a fake war. Ironically, the film was released just prior to the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. It was nominated for two Academy Awards.

Political Film Series

Prof. Lindsay Hoffman, Moderator

This program is intended to help students and others discover and discuss the great debates of American politics over several decades of political history, and to apply an analytical lens of “dark comedy” through which to view these debates, which include issues of nuclear war and ethics and money in politics.

The series examines the culture of U.S. politics, observing it through the lens of this unique type of film. Dark comedies make light of serious circumstances, whether based on real or fictional events. These films capture uniquely American fears, foibles, and failings via gallows or dark humor. All films were well-received critically; many won awards.

The film series also introduces a unique element to the traditional campus film series: social media. Audience members—from both the university and community—will have the opportunity to “live-tweet” their reactions to the films using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. Viewers are invited to think actively and critically about the art of the political dark comedy on film, and communicate with others to gain different perspectives. The Moderator will facilitate these discussions, and provide information about the origin, production, and cultural references in the film.

  1. Wednesday, November 5, 2014 - 7:30pm

Do the Right Thing (1989), celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, was a groundbreaking and controversial film directed by Spike Lee. It tells the story of the hottest day of the summer in a Brooklyn neighborhood. Although there is a strong sense of community here, this primarily African-American neighborhood has two businesses owned by Italians and Koreans. As we get to know members of the community, tensions swell and racial violence ensues. The film was nominated for two Oscars.

  1. Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 7:30pm

Thank you for Smoking” (2006) was written and directed by Jason Reitman and based on the satirical novel of the same name by Christopher Buckley. The film follows the efforts of a Big-Tobacco lobbyist who artfully spins the relationship between smoking and lung cancer. USA Today called the film “the wittiest dark comedy of the year” and said it appealed “to all sides of the political spectrum.” The film garnered two Golden Globes nominations.

Fade to Black:
Dark Political Humor in American Film

• FREE •


University of Delaware • Mitchell Hall

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