Georgia Grimond, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The thirteenth annual Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty (Paraty International Literary Festival), or FLIP, opened on Wednesday 1st July in the colonial town in the south of Rio state. Running over five days until Sunday 5th July, the festival features variety of lectures, panels, discussion, concerts and film screenings.
The FLIP festival was founded in 2003 by Liz Calder, a British publisher, and is now an established event in the world literary calendar, drawing an impressive list of writers, musicians and poets from around the globe, as well as Brazil.
Among the speakers from abroad this year are Irish writer Colm Tóibín, Australian Richard Flanagan, British poet Sophie Hannah and Cuban Leonardo Padura. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, a Kenyan writer and political activist who is tipped for Nobel literature, will speak on Friday at 5:15PM.
Robert Saviano, an Italian journalist, pulled out of the festival on Monday June 29th over worries about his security. He has been the subject of death threats since writing his book “Gomorra” about the Neapolitan mafia. Two writers who focus on organized crime in Mexico, Ioan Grillo and Diego Osorno, will replace Saviano in a panel discussion at 7.30PM on Saturday, 4th July.
This year the event is dedicated to the memory and work of Mário de Andrade (1893 – 1945), a Brazilian poet, novelist, music critic, public manager, folklorist, cultural agitator. The opening panel, “the Margins of Mário, on Wednesday evening used Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and eroticism to look at his work in the modern day.
Alongside the main events run free parallel festivals FlipZona (for youth), Flipinha (for children) and FlipMais (extra events). Tickets for the program in the Authors Tent are R$50 and are available from accredited retail outlets. Buyers are limited to two tickets per person and will need a CPF (Brazilian identity number). For those unable to make it to Paraty, many discussions will be live-streamed.
FLIP is an important part of Paraty’s economy, attracting close to 30,000 visitors each year and filling almost all of the town’s hotels and hostels. The small town of Paraty, situated south of Rio de Janeiro on the Costa Verde (Green Coast), has long been a popular destination for travelers seeking sun, sand, nature and a break from the hustle and bustle of Brazil’s larger cities.
Rio resident Andrea Carel decided to visit FLIP for the first time this year. “It’s like diving into a cultural paradise,” she said. “The festival is very well organized and the town is so lovely and full of history.” It was a last minute decision to come and with many events sold out, she added “This was just a taster, I am already looking forward to next year when I will come again and be more prepared.”
The town center’s colorful colonial houses and baroque churches allow visitors to feel as though they have stepped back in time to when Paraty was first founded by the Portuguese in 1667. Bus tickets from Rio to Paraty and back are available from the Costa Verde bus company and typically cost around R$40 each way for the four hour trip, see the Costa Verde website for itineraries.