Film Studies

The VBMA’s Film Studies program, with instructor Diane Thelen, offers a thoughtful exploration of cinema, blending classic and contemporary films designed to educate, enlighten, and entertain.

During the 2024-25 season, participants can attend class at the VBMA on Tuesdays at 1:30 pm or stream the films from the comfort of their homes. Registered students will receive weekly emails with film handouts, streaming links, and instructions. Following the in-house screening, we invite attendees to participate in a brief, optional “talk-back” session, providing an opportunity to discuss thoughts and questions about the film with classmates.

Tuition: $80 per person per series for VBMA Members; $96 per person, per series for non-members

Register for all five Film Studies series

Click here for Asbury Shorts

VBMA Film Studies Coordinator, Diane Thelen

Diane Thelen, Film Studies Coordinator

October 15 – November 12, 2024
Bienvenido a Cuba: Exploring Cuba’s Diverse Culture
The Caribbean Island to our south has long been a source of fascination and curiosity. With its rich, vibrant cultural history, Cuba’s journey from pre-Castro times to the present has been both tumultuous and controversial. Despite this, Havana has been a magnet for performing artists globally, remaining one of the most visited port cities in the Americas for centuries. Initially dominated by European cinema, today it is emerging with a unique voice. Experience five unique films that explore various aspects of Cuban culture and history, including “Chico and Rita,” a love story that unfolds amid the jazz world of Havana’s sultry nightclubs.
Register for Bienvenido a Cuba


November 19 – December 17, 2024
Odd Couples:  Films That Explore Unusual Pairings
Relationships come in all sizes, shapes, and colors! They can be romantic, platonic, or even “robotic.”  This selection showcases a wide array of unusual couples, forging their own paths as best they can. The common denominator in all of these films is, simply put, “connecting.”  This series blends comedy and drama with tales from Argentina, Morocco, and Japan. One narrative explores the lifelong friendship between two men and a dog named Truman, who plays a significant role in their connection. “Truman” brought down the house at every film festival where it premiered.
Register for Odd Couples


January 7 – February 4, 2025
Keeping it Real: Cinematic Tales Inspired by Real-Life Events or People
Everyone loves stories based on real events and real people. Even with some “poetic license,” the essence of truth captivates audiences. These five films, hailing from places as far away as Malta and Kenya, are rooted in the compelling truth of real stories. They are inspirational in their portrayal of the bravery, tenacity, fortitude, and downright persistence of protagonists determined to find their truth. Included in this series is “Corsage,” a controversial historical drama about Empress Elisabeth of Austria (“Sisi”), reimagined in a creative interpretation with exquisite sets and outstanding production values.
Register for Keeping it Real 


February 11 – March 11, 2025
Chance Encounters: Stories of Fateful Meetings and Unexpected Rewards
Random encounters can be powerful, with lasting impact on our lives.  Through a chain of events, seemingly beyond our control, the path ahead can be altered beyond our wildest dreams or expectations. These five cinematic “encounters” explore the chain of events triggered by such meetings, illustrating how life can surprise us on any given day. Included is “One Fine Morning” by acclaimed French filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve, which won big at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.
Register for Chance Encounters

The Cameraman

March 18 – April 15, 2025
It’s Music to My Ears:  Tales about Musicians, Singers, and Composers
Music can lift our spirits, or even take us on a journey through time. Whether it’s the words of a song that we relate to or a memory that is triggered, music is a powerful tool.  Above all, music is healing, a universal language that everyone understands. This series blends fact and fiction, offering a diverse lineup of films where music plays the leading role. Watch as young Ruby, the only hearing person in her deaf family, pursues her passion for singing. “CODA,” a highlight of this series, won three Oscars in 2022 and is sure to inspire.
Register for It’s Music to My Ears

Queen of Hearts

Presenting Sponsor: Roberta G. Olsen
Supporting Sponsor: Mr. and Mrs. Richard G. Unruh, Jr.
Additional Support: Rehmann Financial and Business Advisory Services, Sue and Charlie Thomas
Patron Sponsors: Ann Bowling Endowment for Film Studies

Asbury Shorts

44th Asbury Short Film Concert Asbury Shorts USA 
Saturday, February 15, 2025 at 1:30pm or 7pm

Individual Seats: $25
Space is limited; pre-registration required.

Asbury Shorts USA is New York City’s longest running non-competitive short film showcase and touring show. Since 1981, their short film “concerts” have been presented across the US, Canada, Great Britain and Germany.  Their mission is to screen globally honored, festival award-winning short films in cinemas, art museums, outdoor venues and performing arts centers. The VBMA is thrilled to present “The Asbury Short Concert” for an eleventh consecutive year. The program will feature a fast-paced and highly entertaining lineup of the best in short film Comedy, Drama, Documentary and Animation. The two-hour showcase will include Oscar Nominees, US Film Festival “Best in Show” winners and international honorees past and present. The program is hosted by Asbury Shorts USA Founder / Director Doug LeClaire.

This event is available exclusively in-person and will not be streamed online. 

Register for Asbury Shorts – 1:30pm     Register for Asbury Shorts – 7pm