‘Melbourne Writers’ Festival’ takes it to the digital world

Words have the power to inspire us, to open our eyes to the plight of others, bring meaningful understanding to the world we live in and activate positive change, or simply transport us to realms of another existence. It is the vocation of writers, journalists, authors, playwrights, poets and many others working in the fields of storytelling to share their stories, ideas and innovations with the world, across a range of literary forms of presentation from print and digital media to music, film and theatre, and on festival stages like that of the much loved ‘Melbourne Writers’ Festival’.

Author Thomas Mayor. Courtesy Melbourne Writers’ Festival 2020

‘Melbourne Writers’ Festival’ (MWF) is on from 7 to 16 August and will this year role out the red carpet with an all-online presentation, in response to the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic. The festival coincides with the recently announced stage four lockdowns across much of Victoria, and our hearts go out to those effected during this particularly challenging time.

Over ten days the 2020 festival will delight local, national and international audiences with a program jampacked with interviews, talks, conversations and podcast presentations broadcasting the exceptional ideas and skills of more than 100 emerging and professional writers. The full list of participating writers can be explored here.

A piquant array of topics are set to converge on the virtual stage. The digital momentum will drive conversation about some of the most current and important matters of our times including those of First Nations peoples, climate change, politics and leadership. Imaginary worlds will unfold in fiction and fantasy, memoir brings struggle, resilience, success and achievement into the limelight, and stories of love, sexuality, friendship, family, feminism and much more will be told.

To mention just a few of the festival highlights MWF opens on Friday August 7 from 7-8pm with ‘Finding the Heart of the Nation’. Torres Strait Islander writer Thomas Mayor shares his 18-month journey around Australia rallying support for the Uluru Statement created in 2017 to give First Nations peoples a voice in the Australian Constitution. Mayor will be in discussion with academic Megan Davis and lawyer Teela Reid about “what Black Lives Matter should mean in a land wrought by colonisation and in which First Nations’ sovereignty was never ceded, and the vital importance of the Uluru Statement in the fight for Indigenous rights.”

Audiences are invited to join authors Claire G Coleman and Omar Sakr in conversation with ‘After Australia’ editor Michael Mohammed Ahmad on Saturday August 8 at 2pm, to hear the writers discuss their work in ‘After Australia’, an initiative showcasing 12 Indigenous writers and writers of colour who speculate on what the future could hold for Australia after colonisation, after white supremacy, and after climate change.”

Journalist Sophie McNeill. Courtesy Melbourne Writers’ Festival 2020

On Sunday August 9 at 11am, Walkley award-winning journalist Sophie McNeill says ‘We Can’t Say We Didn’t Know’, as she challenges us with strong conviction not to look away from the human stories of devastation that she has witnessed and that are still happening in politicised and war-torn nations.

In the kids’ corner on Sunday August 9 and Sunday 16 August from 8am to 8pm, ‘Real Pigeons’ creators Andrew McDonald and Ben Wood with bestselling authors Sally Rippin and Gavin Aung Than are the funsters in these storytelling and drawing activities for kids aged five years and up. Free. No bookings are required for this two-part interactive video series.

Author Gavin Aung Than. Courtesy Melbourne Writers’ Festival 2020

The Festival Bookstore is a must on your festival to do list! There are over 60 recently published and prize-winning titles to explore from a list of known authors and new rising literary stars. The online store presents a great opportunity to get your hands on some precious hard copy books that are sure to take you away to another place. Also available at Readings bookshop.

“We are grateful to the writers, publishers and partners that have made it possible for MWF to adapt to a drastically changed environment. We look forward to inviting audiences from Melbourne and the world to engage with the cultural life of the city through online sessions, conversations and new writing,” says Associate Director Gene Smith head of festival programming.

The MWF program and tickets are available here. The new pay-what-you-can ticketing system makes for an all-inclusive festival accessible to everyone. Please read the live-streaming conditions for On-Demand and Live-streamed events in regards to timed access for these presentations.