The Second Annual Dionysus Awards
Philosophy Talk

26 February 2010

Joe:  Hey Blow,  I hear that Philosophy Talk is giving out it's Second Annual Dionysus Awards.  That's     such a cool award.  My favorite of the year.  I'm psyched.

Blow:   You do seem extraordinarily psyched, Joe.  But what's the big deal?  There are dozens of movie     awards show every year.  

Joe:    Well, Blow,the Dionysus Awards may not have achieved quite the cache of the Oscars just yet,     but,they may be having some effect. Just look at the crop of philosophically interesting movies     Hollywood produced this year -- a year after Philosophy Talk gave the first Dionysus Awards. There       were some really interesting movies from a philosophical perspective released by Hollywood this     year: District 9,A Serious Man,   Up in the Air,  Avatar – to name just a few.    Those are all both     good  movies and philosophically rich movies.   It’s like that line in A Field of Dreams – “If you build     it,  they  will come!” 

Joe:   I’m game.  Why don’t you start us out by telling me what the difference is between just an ordinarily  compelling movie and a movie that’s philosophically compelling.

Blow: The first thing a philosophically compelling movie should be is a good movie.  I suppose that I     can imagine a movie that was philosophically rich, but just not very good as a movie.  But those     aren’t the kinds of movies that Philosophy Talk  seeks to honor with  Dionysus Awards.

Joe:   And I take it that they also aren’t particularly interested in honoring movies that though they  are     perfectly fine,  even great,  examples of film making  don’t have much philosophical content.  An     example from last year was Slum Dog Millionaire.  I remember John and Ken both loving that  movie,     but saying that it did not  deserve a Dionysus Award.

Blow: But  be careful.  A movie can be worth looking at and analyzing from a philosophical perspective     even  if the filmmaker isn’t really trying to make a philosophical point of his or her own.     Like life     itself, the movies, at their best, confront us with situations, characters, and events, that invite us to     reflect deeply about things like the nature of love, the morality of betrayal, hope, fear, ambition and     on and on.  A movie can be philosophically compelling just because it compels us to think hard about     human life.

Joe:  I totally agree with you there, but there's also  a different way in which a movie can be     philosophically compelling.  The filmmaker him or herself can have a philosophical agenda and can     be using the film as sort of a vehicle for working through that agenda.  We might distinguish movies     as meat for philosophical thought and movies as vehicles for philosophical thought -- usually as     vehicles for either the director or the screenwriter.   Many movies make good meat for philosophical     thought.   Fewer are real vehicles for philosophical thought.   Really good  fiction movies often serve     as vehicles for philosophical thought.  have this character.  A filmmaker wants to make a     philosophical point about freedom or about the nature of the self and they present us with a     elaborately constructed alternative universes explicitly designed to get us to think in a certain way.

Blow:  Of course, these aren't mutually exclusive categories.  Some movies are both meat for philosophy     and vehicles by which  the director  or screenwriter pursues her/his own philosophical ideas.    Take     a film like the Reader  -- one of last year’s Dionysus Award Winners.  It did both the things we’re     talking about.  It  presented us with a both emotionally compelling and philosophically picture of     human life.  But I  it also served as a sort of vehicle for the filmmaker to make certain philosophical     points about moral luck and moral responsibility.  

Joe:  Among this year’s crop of potential Dionysus Award nominees,  we find a mixture of all these     ways for a movie to be philosophically compelling – from compelling stories of men at war, to     imaginatively constructed alternative universes, to extended and deep reflection philosophical     reflections about the meaning of life.  It’s all there. 

Blow: We'll let's get on with it.  Let's tune in to Philosophy Talk's Live broadcast Sunday Morning at 10     AM PST,  on  KALW 91.7 in San Francisco.   If you're not near a radio, you can still join in via the     internet of via the Public Radio Player on your iPhone.

Comments (5)


Guest's picture

Guest

Saturday, February 27, 2010 -- 4:00 PM

Dear JB, Some BS thoughts on Avitar, The mov

Dear JB,
Some BS thoughts on Avitar,
The movie is based on the age old battle between good and evil, David versus Goliath, or in Avitar's case, paradise against corporate destructive greed, metaphorical perhaps to the plight of our own paradise lost that we call Earth. And while it amazed me with its technological advancements of 3D,and beautiful artistic work, it failed to advance philosophically a solution to the conflict and reverted back to the antiquation of kill or be killed, something I found in the movie or in our own real lives, to be backward or wrongfully incorrect.
A resolution or evolution of their conflict through advancement in philosophical truth, with the tools of morality, of peace, love, compassion, education, the simple truth of Oneness, would have made this movie truly great. Unfortunately I found it to be not at all.
=
MJA
Until we teach our children never to war,
the war will never end.

Guest's picture

Guest

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 -- 4:00 PM

In addition to my phoned-in nomination for "Kawasa

In addition to my phoned-in nomination for "Kawasaki's Rose" (directed by Jan Hrebejk of the Czech Republic) for the Dionysus award, I would like to make a strong honorable mention for "Na Putu" ("On the Path"), which recently premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Directed by Jasmila Zbanic, who won Berlin's top award in 2007 for "Esma's Secret," the film is set in present-day
Sarajevo. But while "Esma's Secret" revolves around a rape survivor's struggle to conceal her trauma from her daughter, who was fathered by a Serb soldier, Luna, the protagonist in ?On The Path,? has a choice about motherhood.
The film opens on her relationship with Amar, her partner, at cruising altitude (she?s an airline attendant; he?s a flight controller), but fertility issues prevent her from getting pregnant. Once Amar is fired after getting busted for schnapps in his coffee mug on the job, the couple?s relationship is severely tested, but not because of Amar?s unemployment. When an old war buddy offers him a job teaching IT at a rural youth camp that turns out to be an Islamic fundamentalist community, he begins to drift from the western lifestyle he and Luna once took for granted. As a result, both partners are challenged to rethink their repressed war traumas, their love for each other, and their deepest beliefs, while Luna?s longing for motherhood is soon warped by the partner she barely recognizes. The film moves at an easy, natural pace, but its philosophical charge is power-packed.

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 -- 4:00 PM

It's a good idea this awards!

It's a good idea this awards!

Guest's picture

Guest

Wednesday, March 3, 2010 -- 4:00 PM

http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2010/01/05/pocaho

http://thenextweb.com/shareables/2010/01/05/pocahontas-avatar/
All flash and no new subject. Nuff said about that.
The best SF movie of 2009 is Moon!
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1182345/
Very accurate depiction of space - almost outdoing 2001.
A sane and very humane AI - unlike HAL in 2001.
Add an ending you could understand and it is better
than 2001.
An excellent performance by Sam Rockwell.

Guest's picture

Guest

Monday, August 23, 2010 -- 5:00 PM

Now that I've been rummaging around through old bl

Now that I've been rummaging around through old blog posts I'll throw in my quick opinion just in case anyone ever see's this again.
1. To MJA. I definitely agree on the Avatar comment. Loved the movie and it was beautiful, but it definitely reverted back to the age old "kill or be killed" theme.
2. The Dionysus awards are a FABULOUS idea! We need to reward those films that provide philosophical stimulation
-Travis

 
 
 

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