28 November 2016
George Town, Penang: The highly-anticipated George Town Literary Festival (GTLF) 2016 was launched to a beautiful start with a fitting opening ceremony to set the tone for the festivities ahead on 25 November 2016 at Black Kettle.
Bernice Chauly, Festival Director said, “This festival is a celebration of world literature set to the theme of Hiraeth – a word of Welsh origin to mean the longing for a homeland which is no longer there. It evokes a feeling of universal longing which resonates with all human beings. George Town as a setting for this festival, with its historical and cultural heritage makes it all the more meaningful”.
“The GTLF will strive to continue to allow freedom of speech, of discourse, of criticality, of conversation. This is necessary and urgent, and here, we will do this. This year we will continue to address the many challenging and confronting issues that inform us as writers, poets, thinkers, and members of the societies we live in. We are privileged to have great writers and great minds among us and we are humbled by your presence,” she added.
The festival was opened by the Rt. Hon. Lim Guan Eng, Chief Minister of Penang. Leading Malaysian feminist activist and writer Zainah Anwar delivered the keynote address alongside Festival Director Bernice Chauly and YB Zairil Khir Johari, the Director of Penang Institute. Eminent British philosopher and prolific author AC Grayling delivered the opening lecture set to the theme Hiraeth. The festivities continued throughout the night with a performance by Aida Redza and Lee Su-Feh titled “Words and Movement” and an exclusive screening of the movie “Interchange”, six days before it opens in theatres, concluded the festivities of the day.
The three-day festival featured panel discussions, readings, conversations, spoken word performances, dance and film screenings. Among the highlights of the festival was a performance by Malaysian literary legends A. Samad Said and Cecil Rajendra along with their sons titled “Fathers and Sons” and a Poetry Marathon featuring 13 poets on Days 2 and 3.
GTLF 2016 also marked a new beginning for festivals in Penang as the Festival Producers Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) in collaboration with Evenesis, the Festival’s Official Registration Partner have employed latest social media technology for seamless participant registration. Named “Feedy”, the registration system harnesses on Facebook Messenger API technology, making GTLF among the first festivals in Malaysia to introduce the feature.
This year, the festival introduced a Pop-Up Market that showcased home-grown entrepreneurs selling gourmet food, artisanal coffee, art and jewellery. Gerakbudaya Bookshop Penang had set up a bookstore at the Pop-Up Market selling books by the writers and moderators of GTLF.
GTLF 2016 was produced by Penang Convention & Exhibition Bureau (PCEB) and co-organised by Penang Institute. It was sponsored by the Penang State Government, Penang Global Tourism, Gerakbudaya Bookshop Penang, British Council, Goethe-Institut, Canada Council, Indian Centre for Cultural Relations, South Australia Writers Network, State Chancellery of Berlin, Culture Ireland, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Embassy of Belgium, Maya Press, Battery Opera, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, New College of the Humanities (London), Singapore Writers Festival, Penang Development Corporation, Firefly and more.
GTLF 2016 is part of the 10 Days 3 Festivals that will take place from 25 Nov to 4 Dec 2016 which begins with the George Town Literary Festival followed by the In-between Arts Festival and Penang Island Jazz Festival.