A Film Festival with a Philosophy

What does it mean to be a film festival with a philosophy? While most festivals are named after the city in which they were formed, ours comes from a commitment to a particular set of ideas. Specifically, we celebrate the wisdom of Alfred North Whitehead, a thinker who taught and wrote on science and philosophy in the first half of the twentieth century. His ideas have since come to be called “process philosophy” because they emphasize that the world is constantly in process: it is constantly changing, rather than being static and immobile. 

So how does this tie into the Common Good? For us at CGFF, this means more than just showing films based on a particular theme. It means connecting our films and conversations with a kind of thinking that underscores connectivity, creativity, and the value of all beings. Some pieces of this philosophy come out in our selection criteria, most notably the following three:

  • Sensitivity to the human situation and promoting dignity for all.
  • Cultivating a realistic hope of creative transformation—the opportunity for people to change in a positive way.
  • Promoting the common good, i.e. societies in which people and communities care for one another’s well-being.

We think that films are a great way to express these philosophical ideas, and we like the fact that films spark conversations. This is what makes our festival unique! One of our proudest traditions are the conversations we hold with the audience after each screening. In these, we discover what the audience thinks about our films, and how they connect to ideas surrounding the common good. Sometimes we have Q&As with filmmakers, and these are truly wonderful experiences. But even when the director isn’t present, we still host discussions with our audience! We believe that holding space for these discussions is a part of promoting the common good. 

You don’t have to know anything about Alfred North Whitehead or process philosophy to enjoy the films and join in the conversation, but we hope that by the time you leave, you will have discovered something more about the philosophy that we promote—a philosophy that says we should care for each other and for the world around us.

Jeremy Fackenthal is the Director of the Common Good Film Festival, the managing director of the Institute for Ecological Civilization, and is an independent documentary filmmaker and videographer. Jeremy completed a PhD in Philosophy of Religion and Theology at Claremont Graduate University, and began using his philosophical background beyond the academy to raise questions and craft narratives. In recent years, Jeremy’s work has included video content produced for clients and shorter independent projects. In 2017 Jeremy shot and edited Spitting Fire, a short documentary on spoken word poetry as a means of personal formation for adolescents. His current ongoing project is a fea­ture-length documentary on the life and work of Walter Benjamin and the possibility of art as a site for radical political action.