Gareth Higgins
Gareth Higgins

Gareth Higgins ( is a writer and broadcaster from Belfast, Northern Ireland, who has worked as an academic and activist. He is the author of Cinematic States: America in 50 Movies and How Movies Helped Save My Soul: Finding Spiritual Fingerprints in Culturally Significant Films. He blogs at and co-presents “The Film Talk” podcast with Jett Loe at He is also a Sojourners contributing editor. Originally from Northern Ireland, he lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

Posts By This Author

Love That Transcends Fear

by Gareth Higgins 02-01-2011

Preachers in American fiction are usually not to be trusted -- Elmer Gantry might steal from you, the priest in Mystic River might kidnap you, Robert Duvall’s Sonny i

Truth and Storytelling

by Gareth Higgins 01-01-2011
It's a golden age for documentaries.

It's a golden age for documentaries. Michael Moore kick-started the era with crusading films such as Bowling for Columbine and Sicko, fusing serious social commentary with a protagonist who could be identified with by a wider audience than the "God's-eye view" used in magnificent PBS films by Ken Burns, such as The Civil War and Jazz. Burns seeks a resonant "objective" perspective, relating tales of U.S. history as if our lives depended on it (which of course, if you accept that those who forget are doomed to repeat, it does). Moore wants to place us at the story’s center, revealing the insecurities at the heart of American social strife as something that we could all do something about.

Moore and Burns are only the most popular and widely seen of recent documentarians. They stand alongside Errol Morris, whose treatment of the life of Robert McNamara, The Fog of War, may be the best analysis of how political rhetoric can mask horrific action; Michael Apted, whose Up series, following the lives of several people since their seventh birthdays in 1964, constitutes a social history of the past 50 years; and most of all the Maysles Brothers, who were among those who invented the form, with films such as Salesman, an astonishing vision of the corruption of commerce and religion, and Grey Gardens, which serves as a mirror image to the myths of Camelot that surround JFK's presidency. All of these films paved the way for recent works fusing factual cinema with an ethical eye.

Are We Found Yet?

by Gareth Higgins 12-01-2010

The most significant DVD release of 2010 is America Lost and Found, packaging seven films produced between 1968 and 1972, including Easy Rider and The Last Picture Show.

Claiming Our Power

by Gareth Higgins 12-01-2010

Gareth Higgins reviews Submarine, Project Nim, and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives.

Star Wars Memorial

by Gareth Higgins 09-01-2010
George Lucas may have had a role in my childhood, but it's not up to him to tell my story for me.

Paths to Freedom

by Gareth Higgins 08-01-2010
It’s ironic that the explosive, high-budget thrill rides understand so little about their own themes.

Real Life, Real Truth

by Gareth Higgins 07-01-2010
Documentary films have the potential to both show us the world and change it.

Bloody Sunday and Telling the Truth

by Gareth Higgins 06-16-2010

For 14 people in my homeland, northern Ireland -- a place whose divisions are so fully on the surface that we still can't agree what to call it (the reason I spell it with a small 'n') -- the clocks stopped on January 30, 1972.

Violence Resistance

by Gareth Higgins 06-01-2010
The multiplex stabbing is the consequence of a dehumanized culture that defaults to sarcasm and nurtures angry condemnation.

Looking for Revelation

by Gareth Higgins 04-01-2010

It’s the end of the world for Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli, one of the legion of recent films (including one actually titled Legion) that suggest that while the earth ma

Culture War Cease-Fire

by Gareth Higgins 03-01-2010

There's evidence that popular cinema is taking real life seriously.

Biden vs. Cheney on Afghanistan, the Unpopularity of Lamentation, and Shutter Island

by Gareth Higgins 02-22-2010
Joe Biden appeared on the Sunday morning talk shows last week to defend the Obama administration from Dick Cheney's disgraceful attacks, which appear to suggest his earlier bloodlust has not yet be

Post-Apocalyptic Hope

by Gareth Higgins 02-01-2010

Cormac McCarthy’s novels are the Ecclesiastes of postmodern American literature—finely wrought chunks of sparseness in which the protagonists struggle to survive a violent or deadening

On Film: Selective Storytelling

by Gareth Higgins 01-01-2010

Another look at Gone with the Wind.

On Film: Representations of War

by Gareth Higgins 12-01-2009
Reexamining violence in entertainment.

Why Clint Eastwood Can be Trusted with Mandela (and Why Glenn Beck Can't be Trusted with MLK)

by Gareth Higgins 10-30-2009

It's that time of year again -- you know, when Clint Eastwood releases a trailer for a movie that looks fascinating and completely different from the last thing he did, and your trio of reactions run something like this: 1) Hmmm, Clint's got a movie coming out -- didn't we just see 'Gran Torino' five minutes ago?

A Pre-Emptive Peace Prize?

by Gareth Higgins 10-20-2009
I know it's been a week and a bit, which in the contemporary mode suggests that ancient history has already passed under the bridge since the Nobel Committee announced its decision, but I wanted to

Roman Polanski and the Politics of Remembering

by Gareth Higgins 09-30-2009
I'm reluctant to comment regarding film-maker Roman Polanski's arrest and the attempt to extradite him to the U.S.

A National Emergency

by Gareth Higgins 09-01-2009

WE’RE IN A national emergency, and it’s not swine flu.

My Experience of U.S. Health Care as a Recent Immigrant (Part II)

by Gareth Higgins 08-12-2009
I have friends in the UK who are doctors, men and women who work in intense, busy careers. Like many salaried positions, things get exponentially better the longer you're in the system.