Festival to show another side of Macau
Literature and music might not be on the minds of most visitors to Macau.
But the organisers of the city's first literature festival hope to turn over a new page in Macau's tourism history when they welcome writers from the mainland, Taiwan and Portuguese-speaking territories around the world for the start of a week of literary events.
The event, called The Script Road, opens next Sunday.
Ricardo Pinto, owner of the Portuguese-language newspaper Ponto Final, organised the festival in collaboration with the Portuguese Society of Arts and Letters.
'We wanted to do something fresh,' he said, so the international guests will include writers, musicians and film directors from Brazil, Portugal, Cape Verde, and the mainland.
The schedule includes talks, exhibitions, workshops, film screenings, a book fair and concerts as well as a tribute to Macanese writer Henrique de Senna Fernandes, who recently died.
Pinto, who expects about 10,000 people to attend, had initially planned a two-day event.
'But then we felt we could do something bigger and more interesting, with more than just books, because it makes sense to show movies related to books or the relationship between the Chinese and the Portuguese,' he said.
'When you write, you also write for movies and music so if you bring just writers, it's just one part of the story.'
Pinto, who was born in Mozambique and moved to Macau more than two decades ago to work as a reporter, said the creative community in Macau was 'small but strong and growing. In the last 10 years, you can see more and more people devoting their lives to art'.
'The government nowadays is trying to show more support to the so-called creative industries and we should try to improve the cultural offerings and activities here.'
Festival organisers received a 400,000 pataca government grant with the remainder of the $1 million pataca budget coming from private sponsors.
The 49-year-old said the festival was long overdue, but it was a case of the right ingredients coming together now.
'There's an effort from China, Portugal and Brazil to co-operate more and more, not only in terms of politics and economic exchange but also cultural exchange. This festival is an example of that willingness,' Pinto said.
Pinto started discussing the idea of a festival when he became caretaker of a book store managed by the Portuguese Institute of the Orient in December 2010.
Festival guests include acclaimed mainland author Su Tong, whose novella Wives and Concubines was turned into the 1991 Oscar-nominated film Raise the Red Lantern starring Gong Li.
'Macau is definitely more than just casinos and its diverse culture should definitely be shown more,' the winner of the 2009 Man Asian Literary Prize said.
Another guest will be Taiwanese playwright and journalist Jade Chen.
'I have always felt that Macau has preserved its unique culture and style from the past,' she said. 'It is European, but also has the Chinese spirit. It is this East-West combined atmosphere that, to me, is the best backdrop for a novelist writing a novel. Through the book fair and books presented, people will know a different side to Macau.'