Movies & Meaning

Storytelling • Healing • Art • Justice

This April 26-28, 2018, at the lovely Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville, North Carolina, we will gather and hear from special guests Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color PurpleBrian McLaren, author and theologian; and Gareth Higgins, film critic and Irish peace activist. We’ll screen seven movies, hear seven stories, and participate in seven activities proven to nurture community, restore hope, and build a bridge to the kind of world so many of us seek. We’ll do it in the setting of one of the most beautiful and creative small cities in the world, in a lovely theatre, surrounded by fantastic restaurants, places to stay, and the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. We’ll make new friends, see astonishing big screen art, and pick up fuel for the journey of living more whole in uncertain times. 


April 26-28, 2018 | Asheville, North Carolina

Below is the draft schedule for the 2018 festival! Please note that the schedule may be tweaked and the final version will be available at the festival.

Please also note that you don't have to attend every screening, gathering, or activity to get the most out of Movies & Meaning. (Though we'd love to see you all at everything, we know that some folks require more time to rest and reflect.) Give yourself space to choose what you most want to see or participate in, and enjoy the weekend in whatever way works best for you.

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 believe this gathering is an experiment in what life can be like at its best—and this year’s program is an invitation to step into a better story.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Our opening night is not to be missed! Movies & Meaning founder and Irish storyteller Gareth Higgins opens the event with a keynote address on The Story We Need Now, followed by a screening of the joyous Queen of Katwe. Then our distinguished storytellers, Alice Walker and Mira Nair (director of Queen of Katwe) will take the stage in what is sure to be an extraordinary conversation and Question & Answer session.

6:30 p.m.  |  Doors Open, settle in! 

7:00 p.m.  |  Welcome and Keynote: The Story We Need Now, Gareth Higgins

Movies & Meaning Founder and Creative Director Gareth Higgins on embracing better stories for living well in the current political and cultural moment.

7:15 p.m.  |  Queen of Katwe (2016)

Full of joy and heart, this movie is based on the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess.

After Queen of Katwe Screening  |  Alice Walker in Conversation with Mira Nair, director of Queen of Katwe

An extraordinary conversation and Q&A session between two of our most distinguished storytellers.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Highlights of Friday at the Movies & Meaning experience include writer-activist Brian McLaren on "The Seventh Story," new ideas on making a better world through the stories we tell;  before a special screening of the powerful documentary The Work. That screening will be followed by a conversation with James McLeary, co-founder of The Work. Other screenings and group activities are to be announced later. Stay connected with us through our newsletter or social media for updates.

10:00 a.m.  | Screening (to be announced)


After the Screening  |  Brian McLaren on "The Seventh Story"

How do we move beyond living narratives that dominate, consume, divide, or destroy? There’s wisdom in the stories humans have been telling for thousands of years, and inspiration from unlikely places. Join writer-activist Brian McLaren for a presentation of new ideas on telling a better story, making a better world.

12:30 p.m.  |  Lunch Break
+Optional Group Activity

Step outside of the Diana Wortham Theatre and there are lots of wonderful restaurants nearby!

2:00 p.m.  |  Screening (to be announced)


4:00 p.m.  |  Group Activity (to be announced)

5:15 p.m.  |  Dinner Break
+Optional Group Activity

Asheville is home to some truly spectacular restaurants. If you want to try something new, now is the time!

7:00 p.m.  |  The Work (2017)

Grand Jury Prize winner at South by Southwest, The Work will take you to places rarely seen or felt in the movies. Set inside Folsom prison, this documentary delves into the transformational work of rehabilitation.

8:45 p.m.  |   A Conversation with James McLeary, co-founder of The Work

Alice Walker calls The Work "medicine of the highest and most potent." Join us after the screening for this life-changing conversation on finding purpose and liberation from whatever prison we may find ourselves in, with the acclaimed leader of The Work.

Saturday, April 28, 2018


The final day of the Movies & Meaning experience includes a screening of Summer in the Forest, described by The Guardian as “breathtakingly beautiful,” an invitation to abandon the rat race and forge new friendships. Followed by a workshop on "How to Be An Ally," surprise screenings and optional group activities will fill the day. We'll close Movies & Meaning with a special screening and celebration with Alice Walker. More details to be announced, so be sure to stay connected via our newsletter or social media for updates.

10:00 a.m.  |  Surprise Screening & Group Activity (to be announced)


12:30 p.m.  |  Lunch Break
+Optional Discussion Groups

Enjoy a variety of restaurants only steps away of the Diana Wortham Theatre.

2:00 p.m.  |  Summer in the Forest (2017)

Described by The Guardian as “breathtakingly beautiful,” Summer in the Forest invites us to abandon the rat race and forge new friendships. Jean Vanier and the L’Arche community will show us what it means to be human, to be foolish, and to be happy. 

4:15 p.m.  |  Workshop: How To Be An Ally

Want to provide meaningful support, but unsure how to go about it in a responsible, conscientious way? This workshop is for you.

5:30 p.m.  |  Dinner Break
+Optional Group Activity

Walk to one of many local restaurants!

7:00 p.m.  |  Closing Screening & Celebration Featuring Alice Walker (more details to be announced)


Tickets are available on a sliding scale!

Your festival pass gets you access to all films, conversations, presentations and special events listed here. What's more, there are local accommodations for all budgets and styles. Learn more about accommodation and transporation here.

Truly was a transformative experience at a real and soulful level for me.
— 2017 Movies & Meaning Attendee

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