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Jack's Hands-on English

(Film, Art, Literature and Philosophy Club)

Planned weekly discussions over films, aesthetics, social and ethical themes - we will spend 2 weeks on each theme.

Please note: An intermediate level of English is required (the goal is to feel relaxed and practice speaking English over thought-provoking topics).

For high school and university students and adults-in-general.



Time: Wednesdays  (ongoing ... join in at any time).



Fee: 1000 RSD / 1.5 hr session

Please enroll before coming via email or telephone in advance.

Email: john.russey@handsonbelgrade.org

Phone: 065 465 4966



Club meetings will take place at Kursulina 29/Lokal1, Vračar (Belgrade) [in the locale for Young Engineers Vračar Beograd].



"Avatar: The Way of Water"
We'll talk about film genre, special effects and symbolism in film


A discussion of film Genre: based on similarities in either the narrative elements, aesthetic approaches, or emotional response to the film.
Symbolism -- meaning, mythology, propaganda, ...



"Night Watch"
A discussion of Art and Society


We will approach the painting Nightwatch with excerpts from these two films:


"Rembrandt's J'Accuse" (2008)

"[The director] Greenaway leads us through Rembrandt's paintings into seventeenth-century Amsterdam.
He paints a world that is democratic in principle, but is almost entirely ruled by twelve families.
The notion exists of these regents as charitable and compassionate entities. However, reality was different."
-- including a discussion of Émile Zola's J'Accuse


Nightwatching (2007)
-- wherein Rembrandt identifies a murderer in the painting and the intrigue, drama and controversy surrounding this.



"The Matrix"
A look at Singularity and Transhumanism



1) What is Singularity? Is this a "good" thing?

2) What are the thoughts/worries of the physicist Stephan Hawking and entrepreneur Elon Musk?

3) Should we trust "Scientists" to tell us what we should do in the future (i.e., Genetically Manipulated Organisms (GMOs), Transhumanism, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs))?



"Antwone Fisher"
On Racism and Identity


Ideas to discuss include: the concepts of identity and difference.

What does it mean to have a "race"? A "nationality"? An "ethnic identity"?
How do we distinguish who will fit in to these categories?



Ethical questions over government


Ideas to discuss:

1. Do we need government? Why? Why not?


2. What kind of powers should a government have (if any)?


3. What is freedom?

a. Can you have freedom if you have to obey laws?


4. Do we need laws?

          a. If so, how far should they go to limit our freedom?

          b. Who should make the laws, and how should they be determined?

          c. Should corporations and wealthy individuals decide what laws should be, and have a big say in who will be "elected"?


5. What about the media? Should there be freedom of expression? Freedom of the Press?

          a. What happens if there is a monopoly on media outlets?

          b. Do you think censorship is necessary?


6. What about a judicial system: should it be separated from the executive and legislative powers of government?

          a. What ensures that judgments in a court system are unbiased?

          b. Should courts/judges be unbiased in their decisions-verdicts?




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