Film Programs

Viewing and discussion programs that present documentary films followed by a facilitated discussion can be a wonderful way for members of your community to explore the project’s themes, engage in conversation and connection, and expand their understanding of different cultures.

A library wishing to show films or videos to the public must first arrange for public performance rights (PPR). All films included in the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf have PPR included and are approved for use in screening events. For more information about negotiating PPR for any additional films that might be of interest, see Copyright Tips for Programming Librarians: Public Performance Rights.

For additional resources that will support a ready-to-implement program, including an introduction, focus points for viewers to consider during the film, and open-ended discussion points to facilitate conversation and connection after the screening, please see our section on Art, Architecture, and Film.

Program Format

In order to present an engaging session that will allow for a meaningful exchange of ideas following the screening, each program should be approximately two hours long. In many cases, this will mean screening a single film during the course of two programs, or screening an excerpt of the film. To use an excerpt, you may wish to consult with a local scholar/speaker, or follow the screening instructions that will be provided by filmmakers when Muslim Journeys collections are distributed to successful applicants. A scholar is not required.

The recommended breakdown of a single viewing and discussion program includes:

  • 10 minutes of welcome remarks, acknowledgments, speaker introduction(s)
  • 10–20 minutes of scholar/speaker commentary
  • 50–70 minutes to view the film
  • 5 minute break
  • 30 minutes of facilitated discussion, focusing on questions prepared by a local scholar, or using sample questions developed by national Muslim Journeys scholars
  • 10 minutes of scholar/speaker closing comments, including a summary of key discussion points

Working with a Scholar

Libraries are encouraged to recruit a scholar to lead each viewing and discussion event. Contact your state humanities council or local academic institution for assistance with scholar selection. In some cases, the state council may be willing to provide support for your program in the form of an honorarium for the scholar.

  • An ideal candidate will possess appropriate academic qualifications (e.g., an advanced degree in Islamic, religious or film studies) to speak on the Muslim Journeys themes and have experience teaching or presenting programs on similar topics. He or she should be engaging, comfortable and familiar with facilitating open discussion with adult audiences that focuses on themes related to the human condition.
  • The local scholar’s main duties include viewing the film in advance, preparing introductory comments with an overview and notes on important issues, developing 3-5 discussion points that relate to the film and establish a framework for discussion, and attending the session to present and provide leadership and facilitation.

Additional Resources

For an overview of how to host a successful scholar-led viewing and discussion program, you may wish to view the archived webinar “Viewing and Discussion Programs with Ken Burns’ The Civil War.” This session provides basic information that will be useful to anyone planning a documentary film screening or series.