Jennifer Schubert-Akin: Film festival celebrates American culture |

Jennifer Schubert-Akin: Film festival celebrates American culture

Jennifer Schubert-Akin
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Summer movie season is in full swing. Yet, for those who have had their fill of endless superhero sequels and animated dramedies, there is an alternative — The Steamboat Institute Film Festival in Steamboat Springs taking place Thursday, Aug. 9 to Saturday, Aug. 11. There are not many film festivals that can boast movies about a dog, the Supreme Court of the United States, John Galt, Ted Kennedy and Hercules.

 There’s a saying in public policy circles that “politics is downstream from culture.” This means that people make their political decisions not based on intellectual analyses of public policy but on higher order philosophical values prevalent in society. The film festival will expose a new audience, who wouldn’t attend a public policy conference, to popular culture reflecting the values of liberty, individualism and family.  

Why has the book “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand converted more people to the ideas of liberty than all the policy papers put out by free-market think tanks put together? Because it illustrates the ideas of freedom through an archetypal story, which is how ideas have been shared throughout human history. 

Stories tap into people’s emotions, which are far more powerful than their intellect. Fear, love, anger and sympathy are better motivators than rational thought. Warm emotions trump cold logic. The great religious texts don’t just make an intellectual case for moral values but illuminate them, often implicitly, through stories.  

Unfortunately for those who believe in America’s founding principles, the political left holds a virtual monopoly on culture. The most popular books, movies, music, comedy, academia and even companies virtually all put forth a leftist worldview. No wonder millennials prefer socialism to capitalism. Even if their parents spent half an hour at dinner discussing the importance of individual rights, that time is swamped by the onslaught of leftist popular culture to which they’re exposed.  

Nowhere is this more true than in Hollywood. In nearly every movie with a businessman, he is portrayed as ruthless, sociopathic or evil. Fathers are treated as bumbling and dispensable. Marriage is treated as confining. Children are treated as burdens. And, of course, indiscriminate sex and drug use are glorified.

The real world, of course, is much different. Just look at a recent picture of Johnny Depp or Charlie Sheen for proof.

No wonder rates of youth depression, anxiety and suicide are at all-time highs. Narcissism and nihilism do not bring long-term happiness. Responsibility, productive work and family do.

Businessmen and women are not bogeymen. They are responsible for the incredible products and services that make our lives better. Our politics should reflect this.

Yet, it is difficult to convince people of such truths when they are bombarded with culture to the contrary. Hence, the film festival will showcase five films celebrating individual freedom, personal responsibility, the entrepreneurial American spirit and the inspiration of faith and family. These include the red carpet world premier of Corbin Bernsen’s new film, “Life With Dog,” the true story of Susette Kelo’s “Little Pink House” — the famous Supreme Court case — and, yes, the film adaptation of “Atlas Shrugged.”

These films portray a romantic vision of what people can and ought to be: heroic beings who make the most out of this gift of life.

These are messages that people rarely hear anymore given today’s culture. Yet, through efforts like this film festival, they could be heard again — uplifting culture and influencing politics. They certainly beat sitting through “Ant-Man 2.”

Jennifer Schubert-Akin is the chairman and CEO of The Steamboat Institute. 

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