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.

In March, Johannah Bogart (who has been facilitating our book and movie clubs for the past five years) will celebrate monsters in movies. She first fell in love with cinema while studying French film in Paris. 

Dawn Smith will guide the conversation in April, bringing her energy for big juicy conversations and film to students.

Instructors will facilitate the class, guiding students to explore the literary and cinematic elements of film. Students can expect to learn about context and technical terminology, as well as enjoying discussion that helps them build complex insights.


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

  • Jan 2 - Jan 26: Miyazaki Continued (Johannah)
  • Mar 5 - Mar 30: Monsters (Johannah)
  • Apr 2 - Apr 27: Globetrotters: India (Dawn)

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!

We'll watch one movie per week and talk about the films as stories, as explorations of character and theme, and as works of cinematic art. 

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.

Miyazaki Continued (Jan 2 - Jan 26, 2018) #

You asked for it and you got it! We are back for another month of Hayao Miyazaki movies. This time, we are expanding from Miyazaki films to include movies from his production studio, Studio Ghibli. This month's list of movies was voted on and curated by you all, our movie club members! Miyazaki fans and newcomers are both invited to get to know this well-loved Japanese director and his world-renown production studio.

If that doesn't convince you, we'll let Miyazaki speak for himself: “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 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. 

NOTE: Each of these titles links through our affiliate program to Amazon for purchase only—these titles do not stream. 

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. Nausicaa of the Valley Winds (1984, PG) Considered one of the greatest animated films of all time, this movie has it all: sci-fi, fantasy, animation, and a heroine who is both a warrior and a pacificist. You've got to see it to believe it. 
  2. Kiki's Delivery Service (1989, G) Kiki is a young witch on her "mandatory year of independent life." We'll join her as she makes friends in a new town, starts her own business, and becomes the witch of her own dreams. 
  3. The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013, PG) A tiny princess is cut out of a stalk of glowing bamboo. As she quickly grows, she'll be forced to confront her fate and her hidden past. 
  4. Princess Mononoke (1997, PG-13) Ashitaka, a young warrior on a quest to save himself from a curse, becomes entangled in a war waged by humans on the gods of the forest and Princess Mononoke, who was raised by a wolf-god.


Movie Club: Monsters (Mar 5 - Mar 30, 2018) #

As long as we have told stories, we have told stories about monsters. Film history is full of them—from THE GOLEM (1915) to NOSFERATU (1922) to KING KONG (1933) to GODZILLA (1954), monsters have had multiple meanings. What is a monster? When do they make us scream and run? When do they make us laugh? And when are they…us? Grab a buddy and a bowl of popcorn. Brave Writer Instructor Johannah Bogart is here to facilitate these monster meetings.

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. MONSTERS, INC., (2001, G, directed by Pete Docter, David Silverman, and Lee Unkrich) The monsters in our closets use the energy of human fear to run their world, Monstropolis.
  2. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991, G, directed by Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise) This week the well-loved Disney musical! 
  3. THE WATER HORSE (2007, PG, directed by Jay Russell) A 12-year-old boy named Angus, living near Loch Ness in Scotland during World War II, finds an egg on the beach that hatches a creature that grows. And grows.
  4.  PACIFIC RIM (2013, PG-13, directed by Guillermo del Toro). Humans fight a war with giant sea creatures using robots piloted from the inside by people working in teams who have access to one another’s memories. 

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India  #

(Apr 2 - Apr 27, 2018) #

Travel without leaving your couch! The Globetrotter series gives us a window into national cinema around the world. This month we will be visiting India, where the diversity of languages makes for a rich variety of regional moviemaking communities. Brave Writer Instructor Dawn Smith will host.

Watch the first film before class starts. 

PLEASE NOTE: At the time of this posting, PATHER PANCHALI, VEER-ZAARA and THE LUNCHBOX stream on Amazon; LAGAAN does not. You are welcome to follow affiliate links from the titles below for rental and purchase. These versions come with English subtitles. Also note that it's common for Indian films to be three hours or more in length. Plan accordingly—we have two long ones in our movie club!

Movies #

  1. PATHER PANCHALI (Bengali, THE SONG OF THE LITTLE ROAD, 2h 5min), unrated, 1955, directed by Satyajit Ray. Set in a rural Bengali village, this story introduces us to a boy named Apu and his family. This is the first of three films that came to be known known as the Apu Trilogy—today considered one of the all-time great cinematic achievements. Music composed and performed by Ravi Shankar. The Japanese director Akira Kurosawa once said, “Never having seen a Satyajit Ray film is like never having seen the sun or the moon.”
  2. LAGAAN: ONCE UPON A TIME IN INDIA (LAND TAX, Hindi, 3h 44min), PG, 2001, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. In 1893, a team of impoverished Gujarati villagers enters a high-stakes bet that they can beat British colonialists at cricket. Director-writer Asutosh Gowariker and the actor-producer Aamir Khan cited the French comic book Asterix as an influence on underdog story that will have you cheering. 
  3. THE LUNCHBOX (originally DABBA, Hindi, 2014, 1h 44min), PG, Ritesh Batra. “Mumbai’s dabbawallahs are a community of 5,000 lunch box deliverymen. Harvard University analyzed their delivery system and concluded that just one in a million lunchboxes is ever delivered to the wrong address. This film is the story of that one lunchbox.” A charming romance, a sociological look at the dabbawallahs, and a mouth-watering tour of Maharashtrian cuisine.
  4. VEER-ZAARA (Hindi, 2004, 3h 12min), unrated, directed by Yash Chopra. This Bollywood epic concerns an Indian rescue pilot played by superstar Shah Rukh Khan (considered one of the most successful film stars in the world) who meets a woman from Pakistan when she travels to Punjab to scatter her Sikh governess’s ashes in her ancestors’ homeland. A dramatic musical that encompasses themes of feminism, religious tolerance, and love that knows no borders.

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!