‘Orem Reads’ features BYU film expert

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Dean Duncan, a BYU professor of theater and media arts, will illustrate how filmmakers have explored serious family-related themes as a guest lecturer at the Orem Library on Friday at 7 p.m.

Duncan’s presentation is part of the Orem Reads project. Orem Reads’ mission is to engage the community in literature in an era of declining reading rates. The Orem Library invites authors and literary experts to analyze critically acclaimed novels in a group setting to help citizens gain an appreciation for reading.

This year, the Orem Library is analyzing the 2005 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Gilead.” Written by Marilynne Robinson, “Gilead” is a fictional autobiography about an elderly pastor in the secluded town of Gilead, Iowa. The reverend is dying of a heart condition and writes an autobiography in order to leave his 7-year-old son memories of his father. According to the Orem Library’s media release, the nature of the family and family dynamics will be major themes explored this year at the Orem Reads events.

Eliot Wilcox, the program librarian at the Orem Library, said the project is designed to help citizens become captivated by classic literature.

“The programs, from author visits to performances, are planned with the intent of getting people excited about books, authors and events,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox thinks outside of the box to attract bigger crowds at the Orem Reads events. Wilcox invited Duncan to Orem’s library on Friday to link filmmaking to serious themes of “Gilead.”

“[Duncan] is smart and engaging,” Wilcox said. “Best of all, no one can listen to one of his programs and walk out without having written down a list of new must-watch movies.”

Duncan is one of Utah’s most knowledgeable film experts and said his presentation Friday will outline the strong family ties in Robinson’s “Gilead.”

“Robinson is deeply principled concerning the family without being sanctimonious or pointing fingers,” Duncan said. “The family [in the novel] has deep affections and deep divisions. She explores the divisions with clear eyes but also affirms the affections.”

Duncan said he will talk about stories having to do with the complexities of family life and inform attendees of great movies that dive into the struggles of family.

Free copies of “Gilead” will be given away to attendees of the Orem Reads series on a first-come, first-served basis. The literature presentations will take place through Oct. 20 in the storytelling wing of the Orem Library.

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