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Well, it’s been a while. It’s hard to get time to write here, huh? Or is it just me who’s being lazy? 😀

Anyway, what I’d really like to say is that it’s been over two week after the Sydney Writers’ Festival (SWF) 2008 was officially closed. And I’ve been eager to write just a little something [at least a few lines] about it during the previous weeks. So, here’s what I have in mind [maybe a bit more than a few lines :D].

Note: Showing Judith Lucy in action (standing), this picture is one of some interesting sessions at the SWF, taken from the festival website with the photographer Prudence Upton.

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This is probably not such of festival that cheerful or fun-loving people would prioritise to attend. Yet, there were a lot of visitors there in this year’s SWF. At least, the atmosphere at the festival’s main venue, the Walsh Bay precinct, showed it. And as the festival-goers have already aware of, there were a lot more sessions were held at some other venues, whether it was still around Sydney metro or went across to the other regions of NSW.

It is said that one of the improvements for this year’s SWF was the addition of a few more locations for the sessions. By adding the Pier 2/3 of Walsh Bay to the list of venues, one organiser staff said that it has made the event more flexible, and relaxing or more convenient to be enjoyed by people. Well, what I also saw was a good management of the venues has become one of the reasons for its success.

At the beautiful Walsh Bay precinct alone, at least there were one or two sessions a day that was over-capacity. Maybe it’s easy to understand it if they were all just free events, but the fact is some of the ticketed events were even already fully-booked several days before they commenced. Imagine that for a non-music or non-food-related festival.

And not as what non-book-lovers or people who just don’t know about the festival would possibly think, the attendees were not all old person. Lots of them were young people, even teenage. And yeah, they were kids too. Well, at least for the festival’s precinct, it’s such a nice place for the whole family indeed. Beautiful views, with one of the Sydney’s landmarks just on a near distance of your sight.

The queues are another way to say how interesting this festival was for a lot of people. At least on the time when I was there, at the Sydney Dance Company venues, queues were almost all over the place. A few queues were even longer than half the building’s side. And guess what? In a queue like that, you couldn’t be sure enough you’ll get in, even when you almost reached the room’s door.

Seriously, this note is not just some sort of praise for the festival. After all, what would I get from such praise, anyway? No, that’s not it. And of course, like many other events, this festival surely has problems and negative notes too. For instance, I heard about some issues brought up during the festival, whether it was management issues or even a big literacy issue. For a complete report on all about it, the UTS Journalism’s Festival News can be a reference.

So then, what I was up to there? Well, basically I was up to any kind of event, but probably more into some discussion sessions. Unfortunately, I was only able to be there in the afternoon within two non-consecutive days, Thursday and Saturday. And it’s become more unfortunate for me, since I only attended two sessions. Here’s some story for that…

The first for me was a session called “Writing for Young Adults”. It was a panel discussion involving three interesting novel authors, Doug MacLeod, Michael Gerard Bauer and Matt Costello, facilitated by John Meredith, an actor.

And then, following the above session, I intended to attend another interesting free discussion with an author, titled “Princesses and Pornstars”. It’s a famous female author, Emily Maguire, who in that afternoon talked to Anne Summers about what has happened to women’s rights recently. But I was unlucky, and had to face my first disappointment as an “over-capacity-venue victim”.

Emily surely has a lot of fans, which I then decided to attend her other session when I came by again two days later. A session with a similar name to her previous one, Pornstars, Princesses and Lost Boys, only that this time it was involving a male author, Sam de Brito.

But I had to join the long queue this time, even when at first I was convinced I’ll get in because I stood at a position under the count of a hundred. Yet, there was still no luck there, which finally made me and the rest of the “queueing gang” have to be please enough to listen to the discussion broadcast through a speaker outside of the building. There was another session presenting Emily on Sunday, the next day, but I wasn’t able to be nearby the festival venues at all.

So then, what was the other session that I managed to go to? It’s a launch of a short stories compilation book called the “Growing up Asian in Australia”. And it was also an interesting event, especially for me, knowing that there are so many young Asian writers around.

Below is one of the pictures I took there, showing when Alice Pung the editor –and a Melbourne-based lawyer– had a signature-request session at the end of the launching, accompanied by the lady from Black Inc. the publisher.

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(Next: the Sydney Film festival – and I already saw two of the movies at the moment)

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Sydney is one of the cities that so-well-known for being the host of lots of festival. At least it’s from my own knowledge. Get rid of music festivals, and there are still several major events that quite interesting – for the residents or especially outsiders. These are two of them, and they’re coming our way, in the nearly upcoming weeks!

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>> Sydney Writers’ Festival

This one is interesting, not only for the writers or people who like to read a lot of writings e.g. books, feature stories, etc., but of course also for ‘common people’. It will be held here in Sydney – but not just in the city since the venues are very spread out even to Wollongong – from next Monday, May 19 to 25 (official dates).

There are several different kinds of activity that can be enjoyed by people, starting from exhibitions, author talks, conversations, lectures, readings, panel seminars, filming, etc. And if people don’t like to pay to feel the atmosphere, there are still heaps of events which are free. Yes, free of charge!

This event has a lot of major sponsors. But besides those sponsors, you know what, our guys in UTS Journalism will also participate in one important role which is to produce Festival News, the SWF daily publication (but well, I’m not involved actually).

Here’s to take a look at its complete guide.

>>Sydney Film Festival

This year the festival that [I think] really spoiling movie lovers will be in its 55th year. And it will be here for almost three weeks, from June 4 to 22. So, in case June is already filled with other plans in your agenda, at least there’s still any chance for one or two movies, right?

A series of strands will be showcased, involving heaps of movies, starting from kids films, animation, Australian, short cuts, hot docs, art films, world views, some other special foreign movies (high quality ones of course), etc. The venues include the State Theatre, Dendy Opera Quays, Greater Union George Street, Metro Theatre and so on. No need to say more, I guess, as anybody who really loves movies should already have this event on their agenda.

Here’s to take a look at its complete guide.

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Just for your [extra] information, I’ll probably be there in both festivals, and surely will try to take notes to be written here. So, just stay tuned. But better yet, if I may suggest, while any of you have the chance, why don’t stop by and enjoy them your self.

Finally, have anything to say? Well, just put your comments here then..! 😉

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