American Eugenics Society meeting

Exploring the world through film

The product of the movie industry is a story . . . told primarily in visual imagery and movement, and . . . dialogue. The movie shares the function of all storytelling, of all literature, of all theater: that of a comment on some phase of existence.
—Hortense Powdermaker (1950)*

A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.
—Marshall McLuhan (1962)*

Do Movies Communicate?

Movies on Chatham publishes monthly research articles and essays on movies, typically according to a theme sequence, earning reader support as an important source of insight and critical thought on what films communicate to their audiences.

Subscribe below to be notified about the coming attraction each month.

For Group Discussion

In the spring of 2019, we watch and discuss movies that either dramatize or document activities that take place in medical environments.

Our coming attraction is The Eugenics Crusade (Ferrari, 2018), a film produced by PBS as part of its American Experience series. It is a documentary that chronicles the Eugenics Movement in the US, the result of concepts of human heredity that were developed in the 19th and early-20th centuries.

Francis Galton, Father of Eugenics in England
Francis Galton, Father of Eugenics in England

This story includes theorists, scientists, and supporters who campaigned for a new way to improve public health. The unintended consequences of the movement proved disastrous, long-lasting, and world-changing.

Honoring her work on this movie, writer and director Michelle Ferrari won a Writers Guild Award in 2019 for best documentary script (Writers Guild of America West, 2019).

Movies help us understand our history and circumstances better  . . . those of others as well

We hope that this movie-watching experience can expand our knowledge of the world in which we live, and therefore understand better our current communications as we receive them.

What do you notice in this movie that may influence an audience about medical systems and medical decisions? We’d love to hear from you as you watch it along with us this month.

2019 Spring Schedule

Jan 17 The Midwife
2017 Drama, 117 mins
Director: Martin Provost
The Midwife (2018) poster
Feb 14 Dead Ringers
1988 Drama, 115 mins
Director: David Cronenberg
dead ringers poster
Mar 14 Facing Darkness
2017 Documentary, 93 mins
Director: Arthur Rasco
Facing Darkness movie poster
Apr 11 Yellow Jack
1938 Drama, 83 mins
Director: George B. Seitz
Yellow Jack movie poster
May 09 The Eugenics Crusade
Documentary, 113 mins
Director: Michelle Ferrari
Eugenics Crusade movie poster


McLuhan, M. (1962). The Gutenberg galaxy: The making of typographic man. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

PBS American Experience. (2018). The eugenics crusade [Motion picture]. PBS: USA.

Powdermaker, H. (1950). Hollywood, the dream factory: An anthropologist looks at the movie-makers (1st Ed.). Boston: Little, Brown.

Writers Guild of America West. (2019, Feb 17). 2019 Writers guild awards winners & nominees. Writers Guild Awards. Retrieved from

Located in Atlanta, Georgia, film capital of the South, Movies on Chatham provides monthly film critiques to a public audience.
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