CONNECTIONS: Documentary Film Series

CONNECTIONS has been a vital part of OLLI’s program offerings since 2017 when we were known as the Ringling College Lifelong Learning Academy.  The communal viewing experience offers our students the opportunity to connect to many of today’s pressing global issues via the penetrating perspectives of contemporary films. After watching a film together, students can engage in a facilitator-led conversation about the film’s content and impact, which forges deeper learning and social connections.

As the name CONNECTIONS implies, the themes for our films showcase the connections humans have with each other, with our physical world (including technology), and with other species that share our planet. CONNECTIONS is offered in our fall, winter and spring terms, with two films in each term for a total of six per year.

CONNECTIONS, the documentary film series, returns for the winter and spring terms. Films will be shown at the Ringling College Museum Campus.


American Symphony (2023)

American Symphony film poster

1 hour 44 minutes
Tuesday, March 12  •  2:30-4:30 pm Ringling College Museum Campus
Gold Member: $12
Silver Member and General Admission: $15

Professional triumph and personal turmoil intersect in American Symphony, an extraordinarily intimate love story that follows Jon Batiste as his musical career peaks while his life partner, the writer Suleika Jaouad, undergoes a bone marrow transplant. At times harrowing, often uplifting, the two artists both clash and blend. We witness his musical triumphs with the simultaneous toll exacted by her treatment. The film celebrates his success while exposing apprehension and complications at every turn.


Double Feature of Two Award-Winning Shorts

Tuesday, April 9 • 2:30-4:30 pm
Ringling College Museum Campus
Fees for both films
Gold Member: $12 • Silver Member and General Admission: $15

The Elephant Whisperers (2022)
40 minutes

The Elephant Whisperers film poster

This touching story features a couple who foster orphaned elephants in the beautiful wildlife reserve of Tamil Nadu in Southern India. The film does a phenomenal job of providing environmental, societal, and historical context to this heartwarming story. The elephants Raghu and Ammu are undoubtedly the stars of the film, through their playful mischief, gentle nature, and unconditional affection, they display a child-like manner and a bond with their human caretakers guaranteed to make you smile.

The Last Repair Shop (2023)
39 minutes

Last Repair Shop film poster

In an old warehouse in the heart of Los Angeles, a dwindling handful of devoted craftspeople maintain more than 80,000 student musical instruments, the largest remaining workshop in America of its kind. Meet four unforgettable characters whose broken-and-repaired lives have been dedicated to bringing so much more than music to the schoolchildren of this city. The film is a testament to understanding that no matter how broken something is, it is still worth fixing.


Julie Cotton headshot

About the Moderator

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

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