Gareth’s new book CINEMATIC STATES is published in November 2013, and he’s taking it on the road next year.  Want Gareth to come to your town to talk about how movies can change your life, help you understand America, and heal the world? Read on – or just email garethihiggins at gmail with your request for more information.

The stories we tell shape our lives, and there is no more powerful storytelling medium than cinema: a larger than life screen, left brain responding to the affective terrain of the projected image, ancient myths replayed in genres that only seem new. In ‘Cinematic States’, northern Irish writer, activist and film critic Gareth Higgins goes on an irreverent yet moving exploration of the American cinematic dreamlife.  This journey through each of the 50 states of his adopted homeland asks whether a Kansas yellow brick road really does lead to the end of the rainbow, and does it first have to pass through Colorado’s Overlook Hotel? Amidst the multipurpose woodchippers, friendly exorcists, and faulty motel showers, resurrected baseball players and miracle-working gardeners, what do the stories we tell reveal about ourselves, and how can we reimagine who we are?

Gareth is a well-known writer, peace activist, speaker, and retreat leader, and the founding director of the Wild Goose Festival.  Mentored by John O’Donohue and Walter Wink, he has worked as an academic teaching Reconciliation Studies and Sociology, and broadcaster for BBC Radio. For the past seven years he has co-presented the award-winning internet radio show The Film Talk. He is deeply rooted in the celtic tradition of earthy spirituality, good humor, and unbridled imagination.

Gareth is taking ‘Cinematic States’ on the road in 2014 – speaking, facilitating conversation, and leading workshops that reflect on cinema, storytelling, being human, and rethinking America.  He is offering several kinds of opportunities to engage with the provocative and healing ideas in the book, including the following, all of which can be tailored as single sessions of 2 hours or less, longer sessions of 4 hours or less, daytime, overnight or full weekend retreats and workshops:

1: Cinematic States reading and conversation.

2: Film screening, reading and conversation.

3: Storytelling as a way to personal transformation: an illustrated interaction with the most powerful idea in the world.

4: How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films – a presentation about the power of cinema to transform lives.

5: Workshop on how to love America enough to remember its misdeeds: How to be an Honest Patriot*.

6: Retreat on storytelling as a way to personal transformation.

7: Retreat on reimagining America, active and self-critical citizenship.

8: Lessons for the US from the northern Ireland peace process.

9: Session tailored to the specific state you’re in: each chapter of ‘Cinematic States’ is devoted to one state and how one or more movies illuminate that state.

10: Violence in the media and real life: how we can reduce violence and make peace by telling a better story.

11: What the Movies Tell Us – and What We Can Learn About Love/Money/Violence/Politics/God

*With thanks to Don Shriver for the inspiration.


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