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.

  • Gold Member: $12
  • Silver Member and General Admission: $15  

The Last Tourist (2021)

The Last Tourist

Film #FS119
100 minutes
Monday, Feb. 20
2:30-4:30 pm
Ringling College Museum Campus

The Last Tourist examines the effects of mass tourism on our planet. Eighty percent of the world’s countries consider tourism a top revenue generator. Compared to the 1950s when there were on average 25 million international trips taken per year, today it’s more like 1.3 billion. One in 10 jobs globally are connected to travel and tourism, which brings $8.8 trillion to the global economy. Yet only 14 percent of dollars spent in a visited country typically stay in that country. And this happens everywhere, from Thailand to Ecuador and Kenya to Mexico. 
Mass tourism also puts immense strain on environments, extracts resources from local communities, and often shuts them out completely. With little or no connection to local residents and businesses, all too frequently there is a profound lack of local economic benefit. As the film makes clear, travel itself is not the problem. It’s the way we travel, the sheer numbers of us who do so, and the competition for profits among travel operators with little regard for many of the people and places they are exploiting. If you plan to travel outside the U.S., this film will definitely give you plenty to think about.

Stewart Udall: The Politics of Beauty (2022)

Stewart Udall the Politics of Beauty film poster

Film #FS122
Ringling College Museum Campus
1 hour 20 minutes
Monday, Mar. 13 • 2:30-4:30 pm

Stewart Udall was a visionary, a courageous public servant, and arguably the most effective environmentalist in American history. He was an early advocate for the protection of our planet and its natural beauty, as well as a tireless fighter against greed and racial and social injustice. He was also the first public official to speak out against global warming! But a film on his life and accomplishments has never been made…until now.

Special Post-Screening Event: Meet the Producers
Join PBS veteran producer John de Graaf, producer and director, and Laurence Cotton, consulting producer in a post-film discussion of Stewart Udall: The Politics of Beauty.

Udall left a profound legacy of conservation and environmental justice as Secretary of the Interior during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

Clearly a man before his time, he urged all Americans to move away from our emphasis on economic growth and consumerism and toward quality of life. He championed a new politics centered on beauty, frugal living, appreciation of nature and the arts, and a recognition of the Earth’s limits.

This special event is offered through the OLLI documentary film series CONNECTIONS hosted by Julie Cotton.

There is no additional cost for this event.

Good Night Oppy (2022)

Good Night Oppy film poster

Film #FS120
Ringling College Museum Campus
1 hour 45 minutes
Monday, Mar. 27 • 2:30-4:30 pm

Good Night Oppy isn’t a Disney or Pixar movie, but it often feels like one. Good Night Oppy tells the inspirational true story of Opportunity, a rover that was sent to Mars for a 90-day mission but ended up surviving for 15 years.

The film follows Opportunity’s groundbreaking journey on Mars and the remarkable bond forged between a robot and her humans millions of miles away.

With unique access and archival footage, Ryan White’s lively and engaging documentary puts special focus on the men and women who guided Oppy through extraterrestrial dust and dirt in a delicate, but inspired, balancing act that kept the rover exploring.

Oppy’s perseverance serves as a reminder that these machines are made of more than just nuts and bolts, built on the hopes, dreams, and boundless curiosity of our whole species.

Wildcat (2022)

Wildcat film poster

Film #FS119
Ringling College Museum Campus
1 hour 45 minutes
Monday, Apr. 10 • 2:30-4:30 pm

Wildcat showcases the emotional and inspiring story of a young, British soldier struggling with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the war in Afghanistan. In the Amazonian rain forest, where he intends to end his life, he meets a young female scientist running a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center.

His life finds new meaning as he is entrusted with the life of an orphaned baby ocelot. What was meant to be an attempt to escape from life, turns out to be an unexpected journey of love, discovery, and healing.

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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