#blogjammin: why i’m excited – prof dr gareth higgins

this post in summary:

some people take films seriously. most people don’t …

Gareth Higgins does.

Gareth is a man who is from Belfast – the home of Queen’s University, George Best and modern British terrorism. he now lives in North Carolina – the home of the Charlotte Bobcats, Duke & UNC, the Outer Banks and several of the money type ones, including Bank of America.

he was a student at the aformentioned Queen’s where he read for a BA and a PhD, both in Sociology (no i’ve not heard of it either, but apparently it’s a combination of dodgy maths and things said by Weber). in spite of that, he has a sharp mind and a keen theological sensibility, both of which he directs towards cinema, as well as a myriad of issues from postmodern philosophy to violence.

in addition to hearing him speak at greenbelt_ on several occasions about various aspects of cinema and culture, and give his regular rundown of the top ten (or occasionally fourteen) films released in the intervening year, i have for a long time enjoyed listening to the The Film Talk podcasts that he makes in collaboration with producer/director Jett Loe.

TFT is a great podcast not just because both presenters are witty, knowledgeable and interesting human beings, but because he and Jett have one of those relationships where both party is of the requisite intelligence, good humour, confidence and humility that they can happily and entertainingly argue with and shout at each other, in detail and for a sustained period, without it being either overly corrosive or tedious.

another thing i really like is their commitment to the idea that rather than being a series of distinct episodes, TFT is, as they describe it, one long conversation which never ends. they bring pleasingly different perspectives and concerns to and away from the films that they discuss, and rarely do they see eye to exact eye. a good recent example being their disagreement about the new Phillip Noyce film Salt, which Gareth interpreted as violent, misogynistic and nationalist propaganda that comes close to the point of neo-fascism, while Jett thought it not only one of the most anti-nationalistic commercial films of recent years, but also a flawed, yet worthwhile, popular feminist thesis about the social transition away from male violence. they both argued instructively and passionately from content, style and (Jett’s favourite) photographic technique, and were happy to remain of opposite persuasions regarding the meaning. i’ve not seen it yet, but their conversation made me far keener to do so than i would have otherwise been.

Gareth is speaking three times over the weekend:

first on Saturday at 5:00pm in the Film venue (above the skate park), when he will be interviewing Pip Piper and Rob Taylor about their work co-producing the new adaptation of Mike Riddell‘s The Insatiable Moon.

later that night, at 9:30pm, he will be talking in the Bethlehem tent (right by the camping) about his forthcoming book Cinematic States which chronicles his journey through 50 films, one from each US state, and his resulting reflections on the role of movies in American life and discourse.

then on Monday at 5:00pm he will be joined in the Film venue by Chris Curtis and Luke Walton to review the films of the last year and hand out the awards at the Second Annual Greenbelt Academy Awards.

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find out more about Gareth’s various contributions to the world by:

visiting his blog: godisnotelsewhere.wordpress.com/

following him on Twitter: @garethhigginsbe

and checking out The Film Talk blog and podcast

and reading his book How Movies Helped Save My Soul

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