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IU Themester Streaming and DVD Resources


Diversity and difference are at the heart of many contemporary social challenges. Changing demographics provoke national debates about citizenship and basic human rights. Humans and associated global economic activity contribute to the spread of invasive species and declines in native biodiversity. Colleges and universities struggle to recruit and retain diverse faculty and students. Efforts to develop collective responses to these and other challenges are often stymied by increasing political polarization, decreasing empathy, and the entrenchment of difference.

Transcending these divides requires consideration of fundamental philosophical and empirical questions about how we understand and represent difference. How are categories of cultural difference and biodiversity are constructed and maintained? How are notions of difference used to support and undermine communities? How can individuals and groups resist binary demarcations of the self versus “other”?

Themester 2017 engages diversity by considering how otherness has been imagined through time and space, how it is maintained politically and through interpersonal interactions, and how it is represented in literature, film, and mass media. What are the implications of “otherness” for individual well-being, social action, and environmental health?

Our engagement with otherness draws from the full complement of the liberal arts—arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences—and from their wide-ranging subject matter. We examine cognitive research on social categorization and bias; science fiction and dystopian literature; histories of racial conflict; contemporary immigrant experiences; biological diversity, environmental change, and invasive species; stigma and social exclusion; and the ongoing search for life beyond earth. - Adapted from IU Themester Homepage


All photos courtesy of, accessed August 2021 w/the exception of Constructing the Terrorist Threat film poster. Kanopy. 9 August 2021.

IUB Streaming Titles

The following resources require IUB CAS Authentication.

Afuera (2016, 15 mins): The story of a Latina struggling to thrive at the intersection of her transgender and immigrant identities. A short film that packs a punch, AFUERA follows a day in the life of Jennifer, who finds herself caught between her need to be herself and an ultimatum from her boyfriend Pedro.

American Pluralism: Nurturing Interfaith Dialogue (2008, 28 mins): In a religious context, America's motto E Pluribus Unum--Out of Many, One--means not a merging of belief systems, but a joining together of such systems into an interfaith community that honors doctrinal differences while promoting mutual understanding through dialogue and collaboration. This program surveys America's increasingly pluralistic spiritual landscape.

Annihilation (2018, 115 mins): After her husband (Oscar Isaac) barely returns alive from a secret expedition, biologist Lena (Natalie Portman) leads an anthropologist (Gina Rodriguez), a surveyor (Tessa Thompson), a linguist (Tuva Novotny), and a psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh) into a mysterious, expanding region called the Shimmer where evolution has taken a twisted turn. The all-female team must uncover the area's monstrous secrets to save Lena's husband and the world.

Babies (2010, 78 mins): In this delightful documentary, filmmaker Thomas Balmès travels to Namibia, Mongolia, Tokyo and San Francisco to profile four ethnically diverse babies and document their experiences during the earliest years of their lives.

Climate Refugees: The Human Face of Climate Change (2010, 86 mins): Climate Refugees is the first feature film to explore in-depth the global human impact of climate change and its serious destabilizing effect on international politics. The film turns the distant concept of global warming into a concrete human problem with enormous worldwide consequences. Experts predict that by mid-century hundreds of millions of people will be uprooted as a result of sea level rise and an increase in extreme weather events, droughts, and desertification. The film makes a strong case that, whether human-caused or a product of nature, the changing climate is already creating humanitarian disasters and will inevitably lead to worldwide political instability.

Constructing the Terrorist Threat: Islamophobia, The Media & The War on Terror (2007, 56 mins): Deepa Kumar, a leading scholar on Islamophobia, argues that U.S. media have turned Arabs and Muslims into the new face of terror, even though only a tiny fraction of Muslims and Arabs have ever committed a terror attack, and terror attacks by homegrown right-wing violent extremist groups have far outnumbered attacks by Muslims and Arabs since Sept. 12, 2001.

Ex Machina (2015, 108 mins): In this thought-provoking sci-fi film, the reclusive CEO of a tech company recruits a brilliant young computer programmer to evaluate his latest invention: a highly advanced android named Ava.

How to Keep Human Bias out of AI (2019, 12 mins): AI algorithms make important decisions about you all the time -- like how much you should pay for car insurance or whether or not you get that job interview. But what happens when these machines are built with human bias coded into their systems? Technologist Kriti Sharma explores how the lack of diversity in tech is creeping into our AI, offering three ways we can start making more ethical algorithms.

Last Stop Kew Gardens (2008, 54 mins): Novelist, filmmaker and Cornell physics professor Robert Lieberman, an Americanized child of Holocaust survivors, revisits Kew Gardens, which in the 1940s and 50s was an immigrant "village" a few subway stops from the heart of New York City. Kew Gardens was a unique enclave where German was the first language and Viennese-style bakeries and butchers lined the streets. Today the population of this neighborhood has become Asian and Middle Eastern, and Indian markets have replaced the older shops with their Tudor facades.

Teach Us All: Segregation and Education in the United States (2017, 81 mins): Sixty years after the Little Rock Nine faced mobs of racially charged hatred and became cornerstones of the Civil Rights movement, Teach Us All examines how the present day United States education system fails to live up to that promise of desegregation as it slides back into a re-segregation of its modern schools.

Explore more cinematic and popular titles via IUCAT as well as via IUB's licensed subscriptions to Films for Education, Kanopy and SWANK at Media Services Libguide to Streaming Databases.

IUB DVD/Video Films

Be sure to check with Media Services for hours.  VHS titles are housed off-site at ALF, and can be requested via IUCAT

Black in Latin America (2011, 240 mins): Henry Louis Gates Jr. travels to Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Brazil, Mexico and Peru to discover the African influence on Latin America. He examines the shared legacy of colonialism and slavery in a region that imported ten times as many slaves as the United States, and kept them in bondage far longer. Gates finds that the people of African descent have had a massive influence on the history and culture of Latin America and the Caribbean, despite sometimes being forgotten or ignored.

Climate Change: Coral Reefs on the Edge (2009, 28 mins): Marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg presents his findings that document how carbon dioxide emissions are pushing the world's coral reefs to the brink of extinction - a vital indicator of the negative impact climate change is having on our oceans and the earth.

Contact (1997, 150 mins): After an astronomer discovers communication emanating from the star Vega, she leads an international team in deciphering it, and travels through space to contact the senders of the message.

A Fronteira (The Border) (2004, 107 mins): Tells the story of undocumented immigrants through the eyes of a Latin American director. From the dangerous crossing of the Mexican border to an immigrant’s daily struggle in the United States, this film is a rare opportunity to learn why they risk so much in search of the American Dream. Entirely based on true stories.

A Jihad for Love (2007, 81 mins): Examines the lives of gay, lesbian, and transgendered Muslims in twelve countries as they attempt to reconcile their faith with their sexuality. Endorsed by Human Rights Watch.

My Beautiful Laundrette (1985, 98 mins): In a seedy corner of London, Omar (Gordon Warnecke), a young Pakistani, is given a run-down laundromat by his uncle (Saeed Jaffrey), who hopes to turn it into a successful business. Soon after, Omar is attacked by a group of racist punks, but defuses the situation when he realizes their leader is his former lover, Johnny (Daniel Day-Lewis). The men resume their relationship and rehabilitate the laundromat together, but various social forces threaten to compromise their success.

Pariah (2012, 107 mins): Alike is a 17-year-old African-American woman who lives with her parents and younger sister in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. She has a flair for poetry, and is a good student at her local high school. Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity--sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward.

Race: The Power of an Illusion (2003, 56 mins): Challenges one of our most fundamental beliefs that human beings come divided into a few distinct groups. A look at why race is not biologically meaningful yet nonetheless very real.

Sarafina! (1992, 98 mins): Sarafina (Leleti Khumalo) is a young black South African struggling for freedom during the apartheid. While she has remained relatively silent in her opposition of the racist government in her country, the movement to make the language of Afrikaans the official language in her school leads her to protest in the streets with her fellow students. Her anti-government views become even more intense when her favorite teacher (Whoopi Goldberg) is arrested for protesting.

Unslut: A Documentary Film (2015, 40 mins): Through interviews with many sexuality experts and advocates, Unslut: a documentary film explores the manifestations and often tragic results of "slut " shaming and sexual bullying in North America, offering immediate and long-term goals for personal, community-based, and institutional solutions.

Explore more cinematic and popular titles via IUCAT.