BioEthics at the Cinema - A Community Conversation Series in partnership with Mayo Clinic and Rochester Public Library

Bioethics Cinema

Rochester Public Library


Mayo Clinic, Biomedical Ethics Department and the Rochester Public Libaray present BioEthics at the Cinema.

The purpose of “Bioethics at the Cinema” is to bridge the gap between public concern and the isolation of the lab through popular movies. Our intent is to create dialogue with the community around complex biomedical issues through film and other media. We will invite experts to facilitate an insightful conversation following each film.  Oftentimes, the first contact people have with bioethics is onscreen. 

Recently, there has been a notable increase in movie and TV productions (i.e., Black Mirror, Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld)  that focus on bioethical issues.  Movies frequently depict a dystopian future, but a serious discussion of scientific advancements can be surprisingly absent. This can spread misunderstandings about real world science, leading us to treat revolutionary technology, like CRISPR or artificial intelligence, only as things to fear.

A community-centered steering committee met and chose these four films, which will all be screened at the Rochester Civic Theatre Company in 2018.

Upcoming Movies:

Get Out - Fall Date TBD @ 5:30pm

Get Out

We will be drawing connections between Get Out and the 200th Anniversary of Frankenstein. In this film, a nightmarish surgical practice occurs in which a neurosurgeon and psychiatrist lure African Americans to their home for use as receptacles for white brains in a bid for white immortality. There is a lot to unpack, especially its use of Afrofuturism to examine the anxieties and mistrust that African Americans experience toward the medical community in the modern era. Popular culture has long provided an outlet for feelings of powerlessness toward medicine. 19th century novels such as Frankenstein and The Island of Dr. Moreau tapped into fears that medicine would cruelly pursue scientific knowledge at the expense of human life. In many ways, the African American experience is this country’s Frankenstein monster.