A celebration of the written word 

 

For most Singaporeans, the words ‘Singapore Writers Festival’ call pretty straightforward things to mind: book launches, poetry workshops and the like. But hold those thoughts because this year’s festival is set to offer hundreds of events with 320 speakers from almost every continent over 10 days. 

Hear people from all walks of life share their adventures on and off stage, through intimate classroom sessions and full-blown TED-style talks. From a debate about whether Singaporeans are in the mood for love to a typesetting workshop, here’re 10 fascinating events making their first island debut.  

 

1. Hear from the survivors of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster in person 

 

Source: National Arts Council 

In the evening of a regular day in April 2011, a 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit the coast of Fukushima, Japan. It made the news all over the world and on every news channel. Fast forward to a month later, and people went back to marvelling at the next piece of breaking news. 

This year, SWF’s country focus is on Japan and at this panel titled After Fukushima, 2 renowned Japanese writers and a musician will be sharing the impacts of this natural disaster on their lives. One of them is Ryoichi Wago, who rose to national prominence for his poetry about the 2011 earthquake that ravaged his hometown, Fukushima. 

You won’t find accounts delivered the same way in the usual article or documentary, and you can save your burning questions for the Q&A section at the end. Everyone is welcome.

Get more details of the event here

 

2. Catch One Hour to Daylight – a local indie film screening 

 

Source

If you’re tired of the usual blockbusters and tacky CGI, then this one’s for you. Set in modern day Singapore, One Hour to Daylight highlights the underlying cultural and social tensions on our little red dot through tasteful cinematics. This indie film is made up of 4 interlocking stories homegrown directors, and is part of SWF’s Beyond event track. 

Source

From a pair of multiracial best friends robbing a bank to the generational gap between millennials and their grandparents, this is a film that will set you thinking. Spoiler alert: These short stories eventually culminate to the Curry Incident in 2011, where the cooking of curry in an HDB block alerted racial tensions between two neighbouring families. 

Get more details of the event here.

 

3. Understand the work behind the refugee crisis’ headlines 

 

Source: National Arts Council 

Last year, an image of a lifeless refugee child washed up on a foreign beach broke millions of hearts worldwide. While the tragedy kicked up a ruckus all over the globe, what most netizens don’t see is the hard truths of being a journalist covering these events IRL. 

I have nothing but admiration and reverence for their roles in bringing us the news. As part of SWF’s Class track, Atia Abawi, a foreign news correspondent who was stationed at Afghanistan for 5 years, will be sharing eyewitness accounts that the war-torn country has exposed her to. 

This lecture will make you rethink your own priorities in life, and count our blessings that this island home has shielded us from hurricanes and unrest that plague neighbours near and far. 

Get more details of the event here.  

 

4. Master the art of stop-motion videography with Lego bricks 

 

For any IT noobs – I’m guilty – who’s never been acquainted with stop-motion, this is your chance to get involved. A stop-motion clip combines multiple images of an object in different positions in a video form, and you have more uses for the technique than you think.  

Let your inner child run loose at this playshop where you can custom-make your own version of The Lego Movie and store the 1-minute clip in your personal thumb-drive for safekeeping. 


Source 

After you’ve mastered the finesse art of stop motion, take this skill further by creating your own unique clips like these, because Instagram photos are too mainstream. Even if you aren’t into LEGO or stop motion, it’s still a great way to bond with the home crew on the weekend. 

Get more details of the event here

 

5. Meet the man who made a European PM step down from the office 

 

Source: National Arts Council 

This man is no other than Frederik Obermaier, one of the two German journalists behind history’s biggest data leak – the Panama Papers. These papers consisted of 11.5 million financial and legal files of the world’s A-List community, revealing the rich’s exploitation of tax regimes to the world. 

In the modern world of communication devices and advanced technology, our personal cyber-privacy has become a major issue. As part of SWF Stage, Obermaier himself will be tackling these contentious issues and shedding light on what really happens behind our screens.

Get more details of the event here

 

6. Go Between the Lines of SG lit history 

 

Source: National Arts Council

If you were a ‘90s kid, you’d have fond memories of weekend trips to the massive Borders at Wheelock Place. Such memories are hard to relive, but perhaps you could see them come to life at The Finger Players’ theatre production of Between the Lines: Rant and Rave II, which tells the tales of the SG lit scene’s evolution through time. 

Source 

Join actors Serene Chen and Jean Ng as they assume the roles of poets, publishers and more to put up an enthralling act. Because really, Singapore’s lit history is so much more than today’s book vending machines and subscription boxes. It is conveying the essence of words through evolving mediums across time. 

Find out more about this ticketed event here.

 

7. Learn about how an award-winning author overcame his medical conditions 

 

Source: National Arts Council 

We’ve all felt a sense of isolation and alienation at some point in our lives. This is why Jonathan Friesen’s lecture on creating a society of empathy is something everyone should see. Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome and epilepsy, Jonathan Frieser is far too familiar with feeling out of place due to the social stigma attached to his condition. 

But that didn’t stop him from becoming an award-winning writer of Jerk, California, professor and international speaker. In a world full of negativity, crises and sensationalism, it’s easy to dismiss the simple heartwarming things in life. Listen to what Jonathan has to say and walk away with a fresh perspective.  

Get more details of the event here

 

8. Listen to a YouTube essayist’s take on the cut-throat US presidential elections

 

Source: National Arts Council 

This year’s presidential elections have got to be the most perplexing of late – how on earth did Trump get this far? In conjunction with the US Embassy, Evan Puschak, more commonly known on YouTube as The Nerdwriter, will be breaking down the complexities of this unpredictable election. 

Launched in 2011, his channel is a hot hit for weekly video essays about culture and art that have taken the online community by storm. His most popular video ‘How Donald Trump Answers A Question’ had garnered over 4 million views and highlighted Puschak’s skill as a political activist and changemaker. Remember to click like and subscribe after viewing this talk. 

Source: National Arts Council 

Get more details of the event here

 

9. Argue your case out for a uniquely Singaporean topic that hits close to home 

 

Legend has it that in Singapore, marriage is brought up with a housing agreement in place of the traditional ring and promise of commitment. Legend is right – the BTO proposal is a real thing.

Singaporeans are known for our practical, no-fuss approach to taking our relationships to greater heights, and this is why the debate topic ‘This house believes that Singaporeans are in the mood for love’ is highly apt. Amidst the rising costs of COEs and HDBs, are we becoming apathetic to real love as a nation?  

Source: National Arts Council

As the closing event for this year’s eclectic fest, 8 local artists and writers including the likes of Adrian Tan and Gwee Li Sui will be taking the SWF Stage with a word battle on our capacity to love. Expect high tensions and heated discussions over the four-letter word that may have become almost taboo in today’s day and age. 

Get more details of the event here.

 

10. Participate in a typesetting workshop and bring home your own crafts!

 

Source: National Arts Council 

Ever wondered how the ancient Chinese printed their books? No, they didn’t have today’s LED printers and pre-set font styles. Instead, they employed the traditional technique of letterpressing and silkscreen printing. In this hands-on workshop, Sun Yao Yu, the founder of Typesettingsg, will be teaching you these archaic crafts to produce a sentimental momento. 

Source: National Arts Council 

Simply bring a line or two – your favorite quote perhaps – and learn to typeset this phrase onto a plain object. Although the practice of silkscreen printing is nearing obsolescence, that’s no excuse to not learn a beautiful craft. 

Get more details of the event here

 

Sayang, Singapore 

 

This year’s festival celebrates our complex human intricacies with its first non-English theme, Sayang. Used as a term of endearment or to express a bittersweet sense of forgone opportunities, the subtleties of this term is only known to Singaporeans. 

This is more than a festival for the bookworms. It is a place for everyone far and wide to gather and learn from our melting-pot of life experiences. Choose from a list of hundreds of events during these 10 days, which are organised into 5 tracks: SWF STAGE, SWF CLASS, SWF BEYOND, SWF FOR FAMILIES (SWF3) and SWF POP. 

Get your Festival Pass for just $20 and experience a whole spectrum of learning only at the Singapore Writers Festival 2016.

Find out more about Singapore Writers Festival 2016!


This post was brought to you by the National Arts Council.