Movies & Meaning

Storytelling • Healing • Art • Justice

Announcing something hugely exciting: the Movies and Meaning Festival will take place from May 28th-31st, 2015, in Albuquerque, NM. Magical cinema, extraordinary guests, inclusive community, meaningful conversation, beautiful landscape and dance parties! Only 300 spaces will be available for this amazing experience. Get tickets here.


Cinema has been around for over a century, which means there are thousands of magnificent masterpieces that elevate the mind and soul, and also that the art form is just getting started. In a world of infinite content, often dominated by blockbuster superficiality, Movies and Meaning helps you find the best films to watch, talk about, and be inspired by. We recommend three movies each week - one for the multiplex, one at the art house, and one to watch at home.


The Movies and Meaning newsletter is published weekly, and emailed directly to our subscribers, who include some of the most discerning film viewers in the US. Our curators use their discerning eyes to discover the very best movies out there, and send you their recommendations, along with links to the best film writing around.

Learn more by reading a sample newsletter.


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Image credit: The Thin Red Line (1998, dir. Terrence Malick) We love it and you can buy it here

presented by The Porch

April 26-28, 2018
Asheville, NC

Movies & Meaning was founded in 2015 as a gathering of people around art and activism—those who desire to heal our personal and cultural wounds as a diverse community, laugh and cry around the “campfire experience” of great movies, and gain tools for constructive, respectful, and thoughtful dialogue across boundaries of religion, class, race, and age.

Registration is open now!

About Movies & Meaning

These days the noise of bad, fake, and hurtful stories is loud, harsh, and sometimes overwhelming. The task of creating our better world seems large and difficult to hold. And many people we’ve talked to just seem, for lack of a better word, tired.

This April, our fourth annual Movies & Meaning experience is designed for this moment.

You’re invited to this healing, joyful, challenging, and life-giving experience, which will lift your heart without asking you to switch off your brain. The Movies & Meaning experience is an experimental community where we practice being the way we want the world to be. It's a gathering undertaken in hope.

Over three days, up to 500 participants will be inspired and challenged by artists and activists who work at the intersection of creativity, peace, spirituality, and social change. Participants will walk away with a renewed spirit for social justice and tools for community healing.

Seven movies will be paired with seven activities, serving as touchstones, inviting us to wonder, dream, and reflect on our world and our active place in making it. Unlike typical film festivals, instead of passive viewing, Movies & Meaning creates a space for engagement and transformation. We'll weave art throughout our time together as a means of reflection and change-making, learning how to make the world better through substantive action.

The Festival Speaker Lineup

In 2018, our festival speakers span the worlds of spirituality, storytelling, and activism. Through lecture and Q&A, they'll guide us to engage more fully in the world, honor the brilliant diversity of human stories and experiences, and work to undo suffering and oppression in all its forms—both inside and out.

Alice Walker, internationally celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple and many other award-winning books, poet, and human rights activist

Alice Walker, internationally celebrated Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color Purple and many other award-winning books, poet, and human rights activist

Brian McLaren, author, activist, speaker and public theologian

Brian McLaren, author, activist, speaker and public theologian

Gareth Higgins, film critic, author, and festival founder

Gareth Higgins, film critic, author, and festival founder

James McLeary, CEO of Inside Circle Foundation, Executive Producer of the film The Work

James McLeary, CEO of Inside Circle Foundation, Executive Producer of the film The Work

Jasmin Morrell, writer, editor and festival producer

Jasmin Morrell, writer, editor and festival producer

Festival Schedule

At Movies & Meaning, we experience story and light as the building blocks of community, pairing screenings of iconic, overlooked, and new films with special guest appearances, conversations, connecting with one another, and gaining tools for social change. We'll post the 2018 festival schedule soon - check out last year's schedule below.

Our 2017 Theme: Hope in the Dark

We'll announce the theme for 2018 shortly, but to learn more about the kind of festival you can expect, read more about the 2017 theme: One of our favorite writers and activists, Rebecca Solnit, once wrote a book, Hope in the Dark, about how to avoid the tendency to despair amid uncertain times by changing the way we look at things. She has inspired us to make this the theme of the 2017 Movies & Meaning Festival.

In Hope in the Dark, Solnit invites us to celebrate the victories we've already seen—the path toward making peace among all, to steward the earth well, to honor the stories and undo the oppression faced by marginalized people—and to enjoy the many beauties of life along the way.

This may be even more necessary in times when it's difficult to see the possibility of good things.

These days, things may seem bleak, and some of us may feel disempowered. But despair is not a strategy for the future. Telling hopeful stories and building hopeful community will help us get where we need to go. What better time than now to assemble in community, to experience life-affirming, world-changing, heart-expanding creativity in each other's company?

Budget-Friendly Accommodations

You don't have to rent a car to get the most out of this event.

There are several hotel and motel options within walking distance from our venue, and loads of restaurant options downtown. Local accommodations range from budget friendly hostels to treat-yourself B&Bs. Make your weekend your own!

Festival registration is for the full three day event and gets you admission to the entire experience, from Thursday evening to late Saturday night. We offer a sliding scale to make the experience accessible, and we're serious when we say we don't money to be a barrier for anyone who wants to attend. If the minimum sliding scale amount us beyond your reach, contact us and we'll let you know how to spread the cost of attending for as little as $15 a month. Click here to contact us.

Ethical Commitment

We are committed to Movies & Meaning being good for the earth, for the people who attend and participate, and for those who share in its ownership. We seek the common good, we prioritize historically marginalized voices (women, people of color, indigenous people, immigrants, and LGBTQ+ people), and are committed to ecologically sustainable, fair trade, and living wage and/or fair exchange policies for contractors, employees and volunteers.

Movies & Meaning is more than a film festival, a conference, or a retreat. It’s a dream space, a laboratory for a more beautiful world. More reasons to join in? Here are three:

1: With a strong focus on using film to transform communities, Movies & Meaning can amplify your ongoing work as a teacher, leader, and student.

2: Movies & Meaning offers a humane vision of the world and helps you actually walk the talk throughout the weekend, and throughout the rest of your year.

3: We'll be gathering in a beautiful theatre, which will show off the films at their best.


Trust us—this is a gorgeous place to watch films.

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