Seats at the Table
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WTTW believes in the power of film to engage communities in dialogue around the most important social and cultural issues of our time. Our Community Screenings bring audiences together to experience the best of PBS documentaries, to spotlight societal and culturally relevant topics that can promote healthy discussions long after the film airs.
Join WTTW, New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie, renowned education expert and teaching innovator Andrew Kaufman, and Chris Farina of Rosalia Films for a screening of Seats at the Table, a documentary depicting Kaufman’s decade-old University of Virginia course, Books Behind Bars. Take a look inside a unique classroom where university students meet with residents at a maximum-security juvenile correctional center to explore questions of meaning, value, and social justice through conversations about Russian literature classics. Seats at the Table opens a dialogue about transformative educational experiences and incarceration.
Immediately following the screening, Jamelle Bouie will moderate a panel discussion featuring Andrew Kaufman, former UVA student Kelsey Bowman, and former correctional center resident Bradley Brewer. They will discuss the power of innovative education to affect personal and social change as we search for new ways to engage students and create a more equitable world. The conversation will also mark the first time the former university and correctional center students have seen each other since filming.
Seats at the Table
Seats at the Table is a feature documentary by award-winning filmmaker Chris Farina (past films include World Peace and Other Fourth-Grade Achievements) that tells the story of a unique college class that brings together university students with residents at a juvenile correctional center through the study of classic works of Russian literature. Seats at the Table explores the relationship between education and transformation, revealing the humanity behind institutional stereotypes, both collegiate and correctional. This film situates itself in the common space of inquiry, observing the learning unfold and capturing the process of lives beginning to change. Through the power of film this seminal classroom experience has already become an inspiration for educators, policy-makers, and general audiences worldwide. Seats at the Table has been shown at universities and film festivals across the United States (including SXSW EDU), in the UK, and France, and it was named a Finalist for the prestigious Japan Prize 2019 and in 2020 the film will be shown nationally on PBS.
- Jamelle Bouie
Jamelle Bouie is a columnist in the New York Times Opinion Section and a political analyst for CBS News. He lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- Andrew D. Kaufman
Andrew D. Kaufman is an author, educational entrepreneur, teaching expert, and Russian literature scholar whose work has been featured on The Today Show, NPR, PBS, and Oprah.com as well as in the Washington Post and the Moscow Times. A nationally recognized expert on teaching innovation and service-learning, Kaufman is currently an Associate Professor, General Faculty and Assistant Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence at the University of Virginia, where he helps teachers across the country create profound learning experiences that change students’ lives while making important contributions to their communities. At UVa he created and teaches a renowned community-based course, Books Behind Bars: Life, Literature and Leadership, in which university students and incarcerated youth explore questions of meaning, value, and social justice through conversation about Russian literature classics. The course has been featured in the Washington Post, on The Today Show, and on Russian national television and it is subject of the feature documentary film, Seats At The Table, which airs nationally on PBS throughout 2020 and 2021. Dr. Kaufman is an in-demand keynote speaker who has spoken at TEDx, the Aspen Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and at book clubs and libraries, corporations, prisons, and colleges and universities across the United States.
- Kelsey Bowman
Kelsey Bowman graduated from UVA’s Curry School of Education in 2017 with a degree in Youth and Social Innovation and a second major in Psychology. While at UVA, she participated in Professor Andrew Kaufman’s Book Behind Bars course, and this inspired her to focus her career on social justice. She recently completed a Masters degree in Social Work from Boston College, and is now working in Boston as a Licensed Certified Social Worker at a psychiatric day treatment program for adults.
- Bradley Brewer
Bradley Brewer is a lifelong native of southern Virginia where he currently resides. As a formerly incarcerated youth who was released in August 2019 after almost a decade of incarceration, Bradley has not only adjusted to society, but also made it his mission to teach previously incarcerated youth and adults how to turn their adversity into their creative advantage. He is an advocate for the implementation of education regardless of the environment, and he strives to use his experience to empower and educate others. Bradley is a member of Just Leadership USA and a youth advocate for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
The views and opinions expressed in this online screening are those of the presenters and participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of ITVS, public broadcasting, or any entities hosting the screening.