Nightlight in Akron to Host Special Screening of Stanford Prison Experiment

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Akron's Nightlight Cinema will host a special screening of The Stanford Prison Experiment Friday evening. Akron psychology professor Dr. David Baker will introduce the film and present a guard's uniform from the original experiment in 1971. 

The film, which stars Ezra Miller and which took home Best Screenplay honors at Sundance, is a recreation of that experiment, which, as the title suggests, took place at Stanford University. Psychology professor Philip Zimbardo randomly assigned 24 undergraduate males the roles of prisoner and guard to test the power dynamic in prisons.  

After only six days, the experiment had to be canceled. As any student of psychology can no doubt recall from their textbooks, the guards enthusiastically embraced their roles and began forcing the prisoners to submit to a sadistic, authoritarian regime. All of this is faithfully transcribed, in cinematic form, in the film. Scene spoke with director Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who discussed the filming process and the nature of the work. 

The Nightlight is excited to screen the film, and pleased to welcome Dr. Baker. Baker said that guard's uniform was provided to the University of Akron by Phil Zimbardo himself, and is now part of Drs. Nicholas and Dorothy Cummings Center for the History of Psychology. 

“The Stanford Prison Experiment was a dramatic example of the power of situational factors in determining our behavior. It also raised ethical questions about the treatment of research subjects and experimenter bias,” said Dr. Baker, in a Nightlight press release. “I look forward to seeing the film at The Nightlight. I am curious to see how this legendary social science experiment translates into a feature film.”


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