Your kids will be so excited about movies, they'll hardly notice they are writing!

Film is the literature of the 20th century! Explore a variety of memorable movies with Brave Writer instructors.

Johannah Bogart (who has been facilitating our book and movie clubs for the past five years) will be your guide on this journey of cinematic discovery. She first fell in love with cinema while studying French film in Paris.

Students will explore the literary and cinematic elements of film. They can expect to learn about context and technical terminology, as well as enjoy discussion that helps them build complex insights.

Sessions #

Our Movie Discussion Club is organized into the following sessions; please see the "Fall" "Spring" and "Summer" tabs above for more information on each and to find out what movies we'll be watching!

  • Spring 2019
    • Jan 7 - Feb 1: Transformations (Recommended for teens only)
    • Mar 4 - Mar 29: Animals
    • May 6 - May 31: Miyazaki Classics
  • Summer 2019
    • July 8 - Aug 2: All about Animation
    • Aug 5 - Aug 30: Marvelous Musicals
  • Fall 2019
    • Sept 3 - Sept 27: Growing Up
    • Sept 30 - Oct 25: Sci-Fi Mania (Recommended for teens only)
    • Oct 28 - Nov 22: Fantasy Fans, Unite!

Participants in our Movie Discussion Club will develop skills that transfer to the study of literature or any textual or visual analysis. Take advantage of this pleasurable way to expand your child's writing and thinking skills. And remember the popcorn!

Viewing Schedule #

  • We’ll watch one movie per week.
  • We’ll chat about the movie in our online classroom (log in when it’s convenient in your time zone).
  • We will talk about the films as explorations of character and theme and as works of cinematic art.
  • The best thing? We’ll be so excited about the movies, we’ll hardly notice we are writing!

  • Be sure to tell your kids: There are no essays or writing assignments in this club. They will write, naturally, as they post their thoughts and responses in our online classroom. But since none of their writing will be revised, polished, or graded, your kids will have the chance to explore their thinking using written language, without the pressure to "perform."

    Later, when students write essays in other classes or at home, they will find they have greater access to their thoughts and ideas; they'll associate sharing their opinions in writing with ease, delight, flying in a cat bus, and running on water!

    Streaming the Movies #

    Follow our affiliate links to Amazon or look for these movies in your local library system, through Facets Multimedia—a nonprofit film education and resource center, or online through Hulu, Netflix, or iTunes.

    Prescreening Resources #

    In order to evaluate whether or not these movies are appropriate for your family, we recommend watching them first and/or using one of the websites below to research titles. It is possible to "sit out" one of the films and participate in the remaining three, though not for a reduced price.

    For more information about how the classes are run, please read about online classes.

    To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.

    Fall Movie Clubs #

    Before the club begins, line up your copies or streaming sources of the movie through your local library, Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, YouTube rental, or Facets Multimedia.

    You'll start by watching the first film before class starts.

    [This page contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

    Growing Up (Sept 3- Sept 27, 2019) #

    Awkward. Funny. Emotional. Ridiculous. Hopeful. Terrified. These are all words that characterize the feelings associated with growing up. They don't call them "growing pains" for nothing!

    Yet we love these coming-of-age stories. These four films are sure to grip your attention and have you cheering for these protagonists as they struggle to find their identities and place in the world.

    Movies #

    1. Dead Poets Society (1989, PG) An English teacher in a private boarding school sets out to teach his students to live life to the fullest, but when tragedy strikes, his approach is questioned.

    2. Children of Heaven (1997, PG) In this funny, heartwarming Iranian tale, a boy must go on a grand adventure after losing his sister's only pair of shoes.

    3. Moonrise Kingdom (2012, PG-13) The gripping story of two 12-year-olds who run away together and the search party from their peaceful New England community that sets out to find them.

    4. The Sandlot (1993, PG) A young boy new in town tries to adjust to life with new friends and a new stepdad. His summer quest: to conquer the sandlot and learn how to play baseball.

    Sci-Fi Mania (Sept 30-Oct 25, 2019) #

    Note: Due to mature content in some of these films, please review them carefully to ensure appropriateness for your family before enrolling your student. We recommend this particular movie club for teens.

    Here's the movie club for all you adventure lovers. Dystopian societies reign here as our characters try to survive in the most difficult of circumstances. These movies help us see potential futures and to question our present day actions as we seek to craft a better outcome for our society. What great fodder for discussion!

    Movies #

    1. The Hunger Games (2012, PG-13) In this dystopian tale, Katniss Everdeen is forced to participate in the Hunger Games, a competition where winning is a question of life or death.

    2. WALL-E (2008, G) Proving you don't need dialogue to captivate an audience, this movie features a robot designed to clean up a polluted Earth. In an unexpected twist, WALL-E must embark a space adventure that will decide mankind's fate.

    3. The Giver (2014, PG-13) A young man who lives in a seemingly perfect community, one without suffering, learns his community's dark and deadly truths.

    4. Divergent (2014, PG-13) Tris lives in a world divided into factions based on a group's human virtues. Tris doesn't fit neatly into any category in her world, however, since she is one of those labeled Divergent. And Divergents, Tris soon learns, are dangerous.

    Fantasy Fans, Unite! (Oct 28-Nov 22, 2019) #

    If you love fantasy, you probably can't get enough of it. You're sad when a favorite book series ends, and you cheer when the movie version comes out (only if the movie promises to live up to the delight of the book, that is!).

    We've chosen four unique fantasy tales to discuss in this club. How does magic work? What do the fantastical beings bring to the story? How similar is the world to the one we inhabit? Is the story believable? These are some of the questions you'll discuss as you explore these films.

    Movies #

    1. Frozen (2013, PG) Queen Elsa, the young newly-crowned monarch, must leave her home when she accidentally uses her power to turn the country into ice. Her optimistic sister Anna teams up with mountain man Kristoff and his adorable reindeer Sven on a quest to bring Elsa home.

    2. Alice in Wonderland (1951, G, animated Disney version) Alice falls down the rabbit hole and stumbles into the world of Wonderland. In this topsy-turvy land full of curious creatures and mad monarchs, Alice will have to keep her wits about her if she wants to find her way home.

    3. The Princess Bride (1987, PG) When a grandfather opens a yellowed book called The Princess Bride and begins to read, his ill grandson fears it will be a story about true love—blech. But this adventure story includes pirates, giants, torture, fighting, and fantastical creatures. Oh, and true love, too.

    4. How to Train Your Dragon (2010, PG) A young Viking chooses an unlikely course when he befriends one of the creatures most feared in his village, a dragon. While humans and dragons are usually mortal enemies instead of buddies, this duo must pair up to save both their worlds.


    Streaming the Movies #

    Follow our affiliate link to Amazon or look for these movies in your local library system, through Facets Multimedia—a nonprofit film education and resource center, or online through Hulu, Netflix, or iTunes.

    Prescreening Resources #

    In order to evaluate whether or not these movies are appropriate for your family, we recommend watching them first and/or using one of the websites below to research titles. It is possible to "sit out" one of the films and participate in the remaining three, though not for a reduced price.

    Spring Movie Clubs #

    Spring 2020 movie clubs will be announced in October 2019. Here are our movie club offerings from 2019: #

    Transformations (Jan 7 - Feb 1, 2019) #

    Fans of film who know the power of movie storytelling won't want to miss this club! Kick off the new year with discussion about thought-provoking films on the theme of transformation. We'll explore physical, spiritual, cultural, and political transformations in these movies set in locations around the world. As a viewer, you'll likely experience some transformation of your own!

    The big question asked in each of these films: Given the constraints of the life in which we find ourselves, is change possible? Join us in this club and discover the filmmakers' fascinating answers.

    Note: Due to mature content in these films, please review them carefully to ensure appropriateness for your family before enrolling your student. We recommend this particular movie club for teens.

    Before the club begins, line up your copies or streaming sources of the movie through your local library, Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, or Facets Multimedia.

    You'll start by watching the first film before class starts.

    [This page contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

    Movies #

    1. The Breadwinner (2017, PG-13) Physical Transformation. In this animated tale, Parvana is an 11-year-old girl growing up under the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001. When her father is wrongfully arrested, Parvana cuts off her hair and dresses like a boy in order to support her family. Working alongside her friend Shauzia, Parvana discovers a new world of freedom and danger. With undaunted courage, Parvana draws strength from the fantastical stories she invents, as she embarks on a quest to find her father and reunite her family.
    2. The Dhamma Brothers (2008, NR) Spiritual Transformation. Situated in the Alabama countryside southwest of Birmingham, the Donaldson Correctional Facility holds 1,500 men, considered the state’s most dangerous prisoners. Within this dark environment, a growing network of men gather to meditate on a regular basis. Even though many of these men will never be released from prison, they are thirsty for meaningful social and emotional change. They separate themselves from the world they have known, the prison population, and withdraw to a place apart, where they undergo the rigorous challenges of ten days' Vipassana meditation and interior struggle.
    3. Whale Rider (2002, PG-13) Cultural Transformation. Whale Rider reveals the struggle between Koro, the old chief of the community, and Pai, his young and determined granddaughter. The stern and very traditional grandfather tirelessly searches for his successor among the young boys of his village. Although none of the boys live up to his expectations, Koro refuses to accept that a girl, his own granddaughter, may in fact be the most capable new leader. Displaying unconditional love, courage, and wisdom far beyond her years, strong-willed Pai must gain his approval in order to fulfill her destiny.
    4. Please Vote for Me (2007, NR) Political Transformation. Is Democracy a universal value that suits human nature? Do elections inevitably lead to manipulation? Please Vote for Me is a contemporary Chinese film about an experiment with democracy in a class of third graders at the Evergreen Primary School in Wuhan, where students will vote to decide who will fill the prestigious position of Class Monitor. Filmmaker Weijun Chen captures all the action as the three candidates — two boys and a girl — go all out to win: performing in a talent show, debating each other and delivering speeches to their classmates.

    Animals (Mar 4 - Mar 29, 2019) #

    As long as we have told stories, we have told stories about animals. We delight in animal adventures, all the more so because the trials and tribulations of our animal heroes seem to mimic our own struggles. Somehow, they also teach us how to be better humans. Join us in this exploration of four classic animal tales.

    Before the club begins, line up your copies or streaming sources of the movie through your local library, Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, or Facets Multimedia.

    Watch the first film before class starts.

    Movies #

    1. Jane (2018, PG) An intimate and exclusive documentary about Jane Goodall, featuring restored footage from the National Geographic Archives that has not been seen in 50 years.
    2. The Jungle Book (2016 version, PG) In Disney's live-action epic adventure, Mowgli, a man-cub raised in the jungle by a family of wolves, embarks on a captivating journey of self-discovery when he's forced to abandon the only home he's ever known.
    3. Black Beauty (1994 version, G) The fates of horses, and the people who own and command them, are revealed as Black Beauty narrates the circle of his life. A wondrous new version of Anna Sewell's classic about a remarkable horse and the various owners whose lives he transforms.
    4. March of the Penguins (2005, G, English translation). In the Antarctic, every March since the beginning of time, the quest begins to find the perfect mate and start a family.

    Miyazaki Classics (May 6 - May 31, 2019) #

    We are back for another month of Hayao Miyazaki movies. This time, we're returning to the classics. Miyazaki fans and newcomers are both invited to get to know this well-loved Japanese director and his world-renown production studio.

    Miyazaki tells us, “I would like to make a film," he said, "to tell children 'it's good to be alive.'” This month we'll watch him do just that, many times over.

    Look for these fanciful adventures at the library, a media store, through Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, etc. These films are usually not available for streaming, so you'll have to purchase them or find them at a library. Be sure to get them all before class begins!

    You'll start by watching the first film before class starts.

    These movies were all made in Japanese. The English dubs are full of famous voices and well-loved. For the class, you're welcome to go for the English dubs or try out the original Japanese (with English subtitles, if you need them).

    Movies #

    1. Princess Mononoke (1997, PG-13) An epic masterpiece that has dazzled audiences worldwide with its breathtaking imagination, exhilarating battles, and deep humanity. Inflicted with a deadly curse, the young warrior Ashitaka heads west in search of a cure. There, he stumbles into a bitter conflict between Lady Eboshi and the proud people of Iron Town, and the enigmatic Princess Mononoke, a young girl raised by wolves, who will stop at nothing to prevent the humans from destroying her home, and the forest spirits and animal gods who live there.
    2. My Neighbor Totoro (1998, G) When Satsuki and her sister Mei move with their father to a new home in the countryside, they find country life is not as simple as it seems. They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children. Totoro and his friends introduce the girls to a series of adventures, including a ride aboard the extraordinary Cat Bus.
    3. Spirited Away (2001, PG) Winner of the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Chihiro’s family is moving to a new house, but when they stop on the way to explore an abandoned village, her parents undergo a mysterious transformation and Chihiro is whisked into a world of fantastic spirits ruled over by the sorceress, Yubaba. Put to work in a magical bathhouse for spirits and demons, Chihiro must use all her wits to survive in this strange new place, find a way to free her parents and return to the normal world.
    4. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989, G) A resourceful young witch uses her broom to create a delivery service, only to lose her gift of flight in a moment of self-doubt. It is tradition for all young witches to leave their families on the night of a full moon and fly off into the wide world to learn their craft. When that night comes for Kiki, she embarks on her new journey with her sarcastic black cat, Jiji, landing the next morning in a seaside village, where her unique skills make her an instant sensation.

    Streaming the Movies #

    Follow our affiliate link to Amazon or look for these movies in your local library system, through Facets Multimedia—a nonprofit film education and resource center, or online through Hulu, Netflix, or iTunes.

    Prescreening Resources #

    In order to evaluate whether or not these movies are appropriate for your family, we recommend watching them first and/or using one of the websites below to research titles. It is possible to "sit out" one of the films and participate in the remaining three, though not for a reduced price.

    Summer Movie Clubs #

    Before the club begins, line up your copies or streaming sources of the movie through your local library, Amazon, Netflix, iTunes, YouTube rental, or Facets Multimedia.

    You'll start by watching the first film before class starts.

    [This page contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

    All about Animation (July 8 - Aug 2, 2019) #


    Your kids will be so excited about movies, they'll hardly notice they are writing!

    Calling all animation lovers! This is the club for you. Animated movies are not only entertaining to watch, they also represent a vibrant cinematic art form. This month, join Brave Writer Instructor Johannah Bogart on an exploration of four stylistically rich animated films with gripping stories that will have you chatting animatedly in Movie Club!

    Movies #

    1. Up (2009, PG) Seventy-eight-year-old Carl Fredricksen travels to Paradise Falls in his home equipped with balloons, inadvertently taking a young stowaway.

    2. Persepolis (2007, PG-13 for violence, drug use/smoking, and language) A precocious and outspoken Iranian girl grows up during the Islamic Revolution.

    3. Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009, PG) An urbane fox cannot resist returning to his farm raiding ways and then must help his community survive the farmers' retaliation.

    4. The Land before Time (1988, G) An orphaned brontosaurus teams up with other young dinosaurs in order to reunite with their families in a valley.


    Marvelous Musicals! (Aug 5 - Aug 30, 2019) #

    Okay musical fans, here's the club you've been asking for. Selections range from classic musicals of the 60s and 70s up to the modern era. How has the musical evolved? And what makes this form of storytelling compelling and unique? Let's talk about it!

    Movies #

    1. The Sound of Music (1965, G) A woman leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the children of a Naval officer widower.

    2. Les Misérables (2012, PG-13 for violence, prostitution, and suggestive lyrics) In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker's daughter. The decision changes their lives forever.

    3. West Side Story (1961, not rated) Two youngsters from rival New York City gangs fall in love, but can love flourish in the midst of intense friction between the warring Jets and Sharks?

    4. Dreamgirls (2006, PG-13 for drug/alcohol use and language) A trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.


    Streaming the Movies #

    Follow our affiliate link to Amazon or look for these movies in your local library system, through Facets Multimedia—a nonprofit film education and resource center, or online through Hulu, Netflix, or iTunes.

    Prescreening Resources #

    In order to evaluate whether or not these movies are appropriate for your family, we recommend watching them first and/or using one of the websites below to research titles. It is possible to "sit out" one of the films and participate in the remaining three, though not for a reduced price.

    Class Structure Description #

    Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.

    Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment. We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing.

    Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.

    Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.

    Brave Writer takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialog is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer values here.

    What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.

    Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.

    Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll agree!

    To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.