Review: Flipside brings world literature and the flavours of Brazil to Suffolk
- Credit: Su Anderson
Flipside, Snape Maltings, October 3-5
A Brazilian arts festival in the heart of the sleepy Suffolk countryside may sound like an incongruous mix but what a treat it was. The addictive beats and delicious smells of Brazilian street food wafted into the vast Suffolk skies, as the carnival atmosphere weaved its magic.
Staying true to its sister Brazilian Festival, FLIP (Fest Literária Internacional Paraty), Flipside heavily focusses on literature. The impressive line-up brought Anglophone heavyweights like Michael Ondaatje and Lionel Shriver into conversation with some of the brightest stars of Brazilian literature such as Daniel Galera and Paulo Scott. These ‘encounters’ were fascinating, the cross cultural exploration bringing greater insight into the work of all the writers.
Margaret Atwood in conversation with Ana Maria Machado was a definite highlight, with both women displaying such warm wit and intelligence. Exiting this event was also a delight, as I jigged my way around a capoeira roda (Brazilian combination of martial arts and dance) and headed to the delicious churros stand. Getting involved with the food seemed like a safer option, but I will admit I was tempted by a samba workshop on the Saturday.
This year saw a much larger children’s programme curated by publisher Sarah Odedina who had the aim of bringing ‘authors who would be interesting to young people and adults’. This literary line-up coupled with lots of live music, dance, a football tournament and art workshops meant that the weekend had a real family feel. One of the highlights was hearing Benjamin Zephaniah and Sally Gardner talk about their challenging journeys into writing (both are dyslexic), in a funny and passionate event that engaged both adults and children.
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Unfortunately the Saturday weather lacked something of the Brazilian vibe. As I shivered in the film container (a lovely idea), I couldn’t help but wonder why it was organised for October and not August. But then again, Sunday came up trumps with glorious sunshine just proving you never can tell in Britain. Snape Maltings is undoubtedly a lovely setting for an arts festival with a good variety of spaces to use inside and out. But, in a way, it does seem a shame that this vibrant, family-friendly cultural gem is hidden away deep in the Suffolk countryside, and not interacting with the hustle and bustle of one of our towns.
Massive congratulations must be extended to Flipside’s coordinators who have created a professional and popular festival in only two years. The beauty about engaging with another country through the lens of their Arts Scene is that you get a far stronger sense of place and culture than any school geography lesson could ever impart. Creativity and expression are, after all, essential parts of our common humanity and seeing cross-cultural similarities and differences is both fascinating and uplifting.
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Brazilian author Ana Maria Machado highlighted the fact that less developed countries, such as Brazil, are actually far richer than the Western world in terms of the availability of, and engagement with, translated fiction. When did you last read a piece of translated fiction? When did you last see a translated children’s book in a British bookshop? We need more opportunities like Flipside to open our eyes to our own narrow cultural engagement and to, not just learn about other cultures, but to fully engage with them. Our lives will be all the richer for it.