Picks for MWF: Louise Angrilli

MWF-pink_smPart of me feels that the Melbourne Writers Festival should take place around a giant fire where we can warm our hands and listen to stories, while shadows dance all around. The festival is a warm place in the middle of winter after all.

We’re one week away from the start of the festival so I thought I’d take this as an opportunity to review my must-see sessions. Predictably, this is a biased list of events that reflects my tastes and proclivities. Feel free to make your suggestions in the comments below.

Eat the Sky: Cross-Cultural Collaborations
Saturday 22 August, 4pm
The Wheeler Centre, Performance Space

We all live in our own self-contained filter bubbles. That’s the way of community most of the time; we connect with others like ourselves. I’m not sure I even know anybody who didn’t vote Greens! But how much of our world view is limited by these bubbles? How hard do we make it for ourselves to understand someone else’s point of view when it contradicts with our own?

Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean is an anthology released earlier in the year, pairing Indian and Australian writers and visual storytellers. Two of the collaborators, Annie Zaldi and Mandy Ord will talk about the process of working together, and time spent across cultures.

Dubious Consent
Sunday 23 August, 4pm
Deakin Edge, Federation Square

I’ve never felt quite a sense of discomfort in a cinema as when watching the Melbourne International Film Festival 2013 opening night film I’m So Excited! What started as a fairly ordinary camp comedy strayed unexpectedly into problematic representations of sex and consent played entirely for laughs. I sat there wondering about the festival’s motivations. Was it to create discussion about consent? Was I missing a greater cinematic interpretation regarding how queer and straight sexual dynamics are viewed or stereotyped? Or was it meant to be all in good fun? Because, honestly, it felt like the film was intended as a light and fluffy absurdist comedy with a little bit of rape thrown in for fun.

Is It important that consent be shown in fictional sexual relationships? Given the rate of sexual assault that continues to occur – abso-fucking-lotely.

Krissy Kneen and SJ Watson will be discussing consent in fiction during this session.

Brains, Genes & Gender
Wednesday 26 August, 7pm
The Wheeler Centre, Performance Space

As much as we would like science to be an unbiased tool of discovery and exploration, it is bound by the fallibility of the humans who employ it. And humans do have a tendency to view the world through biased eyes. Science has been the territory of white men for hundreds of years, and predictably, scientific theories for a long time reflected the view that white men were the pinnacles of human experience (with those who were non-white, non-male and non-educated relegated to inferior status). As science as an occupation continues to diversify, this old view is being chipped away. But that doesn’t mean it’s not putting up a fight.

Listen to Cordelia Fine and Christine Kenneally discuss their work and their experiences in science from a distinctly female point of view. This is a free session, which is a bonus!

Marc Lewis: Learning Addiction
Sunday 30 August, 11:30am
Deakin Edge, Federation Square

I’ve seen the destructive nature of addiction. As a child and teenager, I both witnessed and endured the dark stain of parental alcoholism. When I look back on those times, I see a very angry person who felt lost and powerless within the world, and who embraced the drink as a way of escaping that helplessness. But, irony of ironies, all addiction seemed to achieve was to make the helplessness persist, and then to add disconnection and alienation to the mix.

In this session, Marc Lewis will discuss an emerging theory of drug addiction in terms of neuroplasticity; that addiction is a learned response to an emotional need. This could be why it’s so hard to quit; our needs must be filled with something. Perhaps it’s not enough to want to quit; perhaps we need to have something to run towards rather than away from?

The New Gothic
Sunday 30 August, 11:30am
ACMI The Cube

My motivations for this session are pure and unashamed; I have a crush on Kelly Link. Kelly Link could be talking about shopping bags and I’d totally be there. Have you read any Kelly Link? Why have you not read Kelly Link? That’s it, leave the website right now to read The Faery Handbag online.

I’m crying on the inside that this session clashes with Learning Addiction (above).


More events can be found on the Melbourne Writers Festival website.

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