Connections: The OLLI Documentary Film Series

Connections: The OLLI Documentary Film Series

Tuesdays: 2:30-4:30 p.m.
Winter – 2 Sessions: January 29, February 19
Spring – 3 Sessions: March 12, April 2, April 23
Moderator: Julie Cotton

Fees per film $11 Gold Member; $12 Silver Member and General Admission.


CONNECTIONS is an opportunity for OLLI students and others to connect to many of today’s pressing global issues via the penetrating perspectives of contemporary documentary films. As the series name implies, the themes for the films will showcase the CONNECTIONS humans have with one another, with our environment, and with other species that share our planet. After viewing the film, participants can engage in thoughtful discussions and forge deeper learning and social connections with one another.

CONNECTIONS: OLLI Documentary Film Series Winter 2019


Click to download Winter 2019 flyer


Jan. 29 (Double Feature): Dream Big: Engineering Our World and Billions in Change
Narrated by actor Jeff Bridges, “Dream Big” focuses on important technological innovations that propel us into the future. The film highlights working engineers from different backgrounds, most of them women, and celebrates those who build, design, and invent as pioneers who harness the “power of imagination in order to enhance the human experience.” Filmed in large-screen format for IMAX theaters, “Dream Big” showcases gorgeous panoramas of natural and man-made wonders and provides intimate snapshots of men and women using their wits to achieve amazing feats. The film celebrates the creative minds concocting our future and serves as a rousing call-to-engineering-arms for future generations.
(2017 – 42 minutes)


Entrepreneur Manoj Bhargava unexpectedly became a billionaire with the worldwide success of his own concoction — a popular 5-hour energy drink. Possessing more money than he could ever hope to spend on himself, he set out to discover ways in which his wealth could assist him in making a meaningful and lasting difference in the world. The inspiring documentary shows the fruits of these efforts. The film chronicles the journey to achieving his lofty goals starting with the recruitment of an eclectic team of designers, inventors, and innovative thinkers. Their collective mission is to create simple solutions to the world’s most pressing problems within three sectors: power, water, and health.
(2015 – 43 minutes)


Feb. 19: Planet OceanThis award-winning documentary takes us on a beautiful adventure exploring the relationship between the earth’s oceans and the entire planet’s ecosystem. “Planet Ocean” illustrates the way in which all life is intrinsically interconnected and asserts that the greatest threat to our oceans is humanity. It features spectacular aerial and undersea photography illustrating the beauty of our planet, while also highlighting the dangers that threaten our marine environments. Its primary message is to encourage all humans to embrace conservation as a shared international responsibility. “Planet Ocean” is both a celebration of the earth’s incredible natural diversity and a reminder of its inherent fragility.
(2012 – 90 minutes)


CONNECTIONS: OLLI Documentary Film Series Spring 2019

Click to download Spring 2019 flyer 

March 12: Mercury 13

“Mercury 13” is a remarkable story of the women who were tested for spaceflight in 1961 and who reached for the stars, but were ahead of their time. NASA’s “man in space” program, dubbed “Project Mercury” began in 1958. The men chosen—all military test pilots—became known as The Mercury 7. But away from the glare of the media, and behind firmly closed doors, female pilots were also screened. Thirteen of them passed and in some cases, performed better than the men. They were called the Mercury 13 and had the “right stuff” but were, unfortunately, the wrong gender. During the U.S. obsession with the space race, these women were aviation pioneers who were thirsty for a new frontier, but whose time would have to wait.
(2018) 1 hour 18 minutes

April 2: Served Like a Girl

“Served Like A Girl” is an engaging and honest look at an often unseen reality for women veterans. The film follows several American women who were wounded in action and are transitioning from soldier to civilian after serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan. Struggling with post-traumatic stress syndrome, homelessness, broken families, divorce, serious illness, and military sexual abuse, these remarkable women harness humor to adapt to the emotional, social, and economic challenges they face. Through the little-known “Ms. Veteran America” competition they are able to regain their identities and a way of life that they sacrificed while fighting for their country.
(2017) 1 hour 43 minutes


April 23:Daughters of Destiny (2017)
2:30-4:30 p.m.

Movie poster - Daughters of Destiny“Daughters of Destiny” follows a unique group of Indian girls, born into so-called “untouchable” families, as they grow up at a residential school called Shanti Bhavan (Hindi for “an abode of peace”).  Daughters of Destiny is an exploration of their lives, of global poverty, and of education as the only path to opportunity.  Beautifully told and photographed, often sweet and occasionally heartbreaking, this film shows that it is possible to break down barriers for women and girls in even the least likely of circumstances. We become intimate witnesses to their struggle to define themselves, to redefine gender and class, and to create a new future for the generations that will come after them.  We also witness the price they pay as they experience the gulf between their new found advantages and the lives they’ve left behind.
(2017) 2 hours


Julie Cotton, a member of our Advisory Council’s Strategic Program Committee, is the coordinator and host of this series. Julie has a doctorate in Human Development and is a former organizational development consultant and executive coach. She is an aficionado of documentary films and a skilled facilitator of group conversations.


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