What's Up Docs? Dig deeper, think broadly, ignite your imagination

What's Up? Docs!


What's Up? Docs! is a thought-provoking, crash course in non-fiction film curated in a way that only one of the top university documentary programs in the nation can offer.

What: A new, curated, monthly Fall and Spring series of feature-length and short documentaries hosted by The Documentary Center at the George Washington University (GW). Each screening will be followed by a post-screening Q&A with a noted author, scholar, film critic, film director, or documentary forward-thinker

When: Screenings are held the second Thursday of every month from 7:00 – 9:30 p.m.

Where: Marvin Center Amphitheater on GW’s campus, 800 21st Street, NW, at the corner of 21st and H Streets, 3rd floor. The GW campus is easily accessible via the Foggy Bottom/GWU Metro. Parking is available in the Marvin Center garage.



Spring 2017



Thanks to the generous support of Discovery Communications, the WHAT’S UP? DOCS! spring 2017 season was free and open to the public.

The Documentary Center at GW offers our sincere appreciation to Discovery Communications for allowing us to expand and engage our audiences with our exciting lineup of films and post-screening conversations.

Capturing the Friedmans (Topic: Evidence) 

CTFWhile preparing a documentary about children's birthday party entertainers, filmmaker Andrew Jarecki learned that one of his subjects, professional clown David Friedman, was the son and brother of two men who had been convicted of child sexual abuse in a high-profile 1980s criminal trial.

Using home videos made by the Friedman family before and during the trial, as well as new interviews, Jarecki explores the conflicting stories of the accused, the alleged victims and the investigators. Capturing the Friedmans reveals provocative questions about truth, justice, family, and – ultimately - truth.

With Special Guest: Shawn Armbrust, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project

Screening Partners: Mid-Atlantic Innocence Project, Washington Council of Lawyers, The George Washington University Law School, and The Washington Jewish Film Festival

Extremis (Topic: Morality)

ExtremisThe realities of death are not easy to confront. That much is clear in Extremis, a documentary short exploring the harrowing decisions families must make for their loved ones in urgent end-of-life cases relying on machine-based life support. Directed by Oscar- and Emmy-winning filmmaker Dan Krauss (The Kill Team), Extremis takes the viewer into the ICU unit of an Oakland, California public hospital where the filmmaker attempts to intimately examine "the intersection of science, faith, and humanity."

With Special Guests: Marion Danis, MD, NIH’s Division Chief on Ethics and Health Policy, and philosopher and bioethicist, David DeGrazia, PhD (*Dr. Danis served in her personal capacity)

Screening Partners: The Hospice Foundation of America, The George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, The George Washington Public Health Student Association, The Kennedy Institute of Ethics 

Sacred (Topic: Faith) 

SacredShot by more than 40 filmmaking teams around the world, Sacred immerses the viewer in the daily use of faith and spiritual practice. At a time when religious hatreds dominated the world's headlines, this film explores faith as primary human experience, and how people turn to ritual and prayer to navigate the milestones and crises of private life.

Academy Award-winning director, Thomas Lennon, commissioned or sourced footage from top independent filmmakers from more than 25 countries--and a wide range of religious traditions--each team contributing a single scene.

With Special Guests: Sister Maureen Fiedler, creator and host of Interfaith Voices, hosted a post-screening panel featuring: Rabbi Gerry Serotta (Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington), Imam Talib Shareef (The Nation's Mosque) and Brahmachari Vrajvihari Sharan (Georgetown University)

Screening Partners: Interfaith Voices Radio, The Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, The George Washington University Department of Religion, The George Washington University Multi-Cultural Student Services Center 


Fall 2016


HAMHearts and Minds 

Peter Davis's Hearts and Minds is a startling and courageous film that unflinchingly confronted the US' involvement in Vietnam at the height of the war and the controversy that surrounded it here at home.

This touchstone documentary is a must-see for any student exploring issues related to the Vietnam War, American interventionism, East-Asian history, film studies, foreign policy, conflict resolution, or peace studies.

With Special Guest: Linda Dittmar, editor of From Hanoi to Hollywood: The Vietnam War in American Film


The "Granddaddy of Political Documentary." This landmark film, directed by Robert Drew, chronicles the 1960 Wisconsin primary between the two Democratic front runners vying for presidential nomination - John F. Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey. 

With Special Guest: Dr. Paul Stekler, Emmy, Peabody, duPont-Columbia, and Sundance Jury Award-winning political documentary filmmaker and the Chair of the Department of Radio, Film, and Television at the University of Texas at Austin

GSGimme Shelter 

A landmark documentary that followed the Rolling Stones on their notorious 1969 U.S. tour. Directed by Albert Maysles, David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin, it has been called the greatest rock film ever made.

The counterculture era documentary is associated with the Direct Cinema movement choosing to record events as they unfold naturally and spontaneously rather than investigating the subject matter through documentary techniques such as interviews, reconstruction and voiceover.

With Special Guest: Mark Jenkins, Music and Film Critic for The Washington Post, Slate, Time Out New York, and NPR.

MilkThe Times of Harvey Milk 

An Oscar-winning film as groundbreaking as its subject. One of the first feature documentaries to address gay life in America, it's a work of advocacy itself, bringing Milk's message of hope and equality to a wider audience. This landmark film, directed by Rob Epstein, chronicles the election of the first openly gay councilor in San Francisco and his tragic assassination. The issues explored in this film are more relevant today than ever.

With Special Guest: Dr. Harry Benschoff, author of "Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America"