Indiana State University Newsroom

Documentarian who advocates for political talks to visit Indiana State Feb. 8

January 30, 2017

Few things have done more to kill dinner-table culture than political conversations among family members, but an upcoming speaker and Emmy-nominated documentarian encourages families to have those discussions.

Julie Winokur will speak about the importance of civil discourse -- having honest and respectful conversations -- to bridge political and social divides during an American Democracy Project-sponsored event at 6 p.m. Feb. 8 in Dede I of the Hulman Memorial Student Union.

Winokur, founder and executive director of Talking Eyes Media, chooses movies as her medium because "filmmaking brings together all the senses so you can have an immersive experience while taking a journey," she said. "It is a medium capable of reaching the greatest amount of people, and it's a great tool for launching conversations."

Winokur and photographer Ed Kashi, who is her husband, are celebrated storytellers. Winokur has been working for more than two decades and her documentary "Aging in America: The Years Ahead" was nominated for an Emmy. Similar in format, Winokur's new documentary, "Bring It to the Table," invites people of various backgrounds and belief systems to sit at a table and candidly discuss their beliefs.

Winokur says the title of the documentary is meant to reflect a come-as-you-are invitation to discuss opinions, which she said we increasingly only share with like-minded people. She began filming during the 2012 presidential election when she believed that "politics had become so polarized it was undermining the health of our democracy" and that "media and politics were pitting citizens against one another."

Four years later, Winokur has been told that "Bring It to The Table" is more important than ever.

"I wanted this project to be a catalyst for each and every one of us to sit down with people we disagree with, exchange ideas face-to-face, and get up from the table peacefully, better informed and more insightful," Winokur said.

She added that, as citizens, it is important for us to have these conversations because we can't wait for politicians to lead the way.

Winokur is no stranger to tough conversations. Talking Eyes Media has tackled national problems such as aging, healthcare and caregivers, as well as conflicts outside the U.S. border -- including the deadly sugarcane harvest in Nicaragua and the Syrian civil war. She said she hopes people who attend her upcoming event will be empowered to have more of these conversations for the betterment of society.

"When people leave the event, they should feel empowered to have meaningful conversations outside of their comfort zones and to explore the roots of their own beliefs," Winokur said. "The goal is to get beyond the rhetoric we've all been fooled into adopting, and to understand how we can each achieve a more authentic experience during these tense times."

Learn more about Julie Winokur and her new documentary at and more about Talking Eyes Media at



Contact: Carly Schmitt, assistant professor of political science, College of Arts and Sciences, or 812-237-2514

Writer: Kristen Kilker, media relations assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, or 812-237-3773