The 7th edition of the FILIT International Literature and Translation Festival in Iasi was held between October 2nd and 6th. Organized by the National Romanian Literature Museum of Iasi, financed by Iasi County Council, FILIT is considered one of the biggest literature festivals of Europe. For five days, FILIT hosts dozens of events with a wide range of topics: literary meetings with stars of world literature, white nights of poetry and music, professional workshops and round tables, lectures, and connected events. We spoke with writer Florin Lazarescu, program coordinator, about this edition of FILIT and its evolution during its six years of existence:
VM: “Considering that the National Theater in Iasi only seats a hundred, tickets for FILIT events are bought right away. But FILIT is not just about star writers. We hold the White Night of Poetry, which is already a brand name, a poetry marathon of literary readings, attended by at least 50 writers at each edition, with audiences of 500 people at a time. I wanted to point this out, because it is said that there is no longer much interest in poetry. But after the experience with FILIT, I met writers who told me that they cannot imagine poetry events in Paris or London that would gather such an audience, held right in the center of the city, We invited at a previous edition Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alekseyevich, who couldn't make it, for objective reasons. We thought it would be a disaster for our image, but I was wrong. FILIT is so big now that even a Nobel laureate missing it may pass unobserved, almost. This is why I said that FILIT is not just for star writers. With this edition, we will be going to 16 high schools, and all the high schools in Iasi and the surroundings want to be a part of the festival. This year, for the first time, we are going to Harlau and Tg. Frumos, because the teachers there insisted that we bring writers to their schools, after they and the students saw the events held at other high schools.”
The FILIT International Literature and Translation Festival in Iasi is attended by great authors, with millions of books sold around the world. Among them are winners of such awards as the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Goncourt Prize, the Russian Booker Prize, the Russian National Bestseller Award, the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize, or the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women's Freedom. Here is Florin Lazarescu once again:
“If we are talking about the most fashionable literature, we can say that you can find it all at FILIT. This year we will have at FILIT Richard Ford of the US, Mikhail Shyshkin, the best known Russian writer, Maria Duenas, one of the most beloved contemporary writers in Spain, and Mathias Enard, the French winner of the Goncourt Prize. These are some of the writers who came this year to FILIT Evenings, that could be seen at the National Theater in Iasi. But, in order to get an idea of the size of the festival, may I recall that at the FILIT House, the tent in the central square of town, people can meet Sjon of Iceland, who wrote many of Bjork's songs, nominated for an Oscar for the lyrics for Dancer in the Dark, directed by Lars von Trier. This year, for the first time, we realized that we have many writers who could have been invited to FILIT Evenings, but that had to be integrated in other programs. I will also mention Danish writer Kin Leine, whose novel Prophets of Eternal Fjord, sold in over 20 countries, and Herman Koch, one of the most popular Dutch writers, author of The Dinner, translated in 21 languages. As for Romanian writers, we have about 90 of them attending, from beginners to famous ones. I don't think that you could find any reader, no matter how picky, who could not find at least 10 events to like, considering that we had 130 events over five days.”
Five contemporary writers have accepted the challenge of writing a sequel to one story by classical autor Ion Creanga, as part of the Creanga 2.0 project, which had its launch at the festival. Florin Lazarescu told us details:
“Each year we have an editorial project to attract classical writers. In Iasi we have 11 branches of the National Romanian Literature Museum, which organizes the festival. Last year we had a project where we invited writers to write 11 literary biographies of top Romanian classical writers (Ion Creangă, Mihai Eminescu, Mihail Sadoveanu, George Topîrceanu, Otilia Cazimir, Vasile Pogor, Nicolae Gane, Mitropolitul Dosoftei, Constantin Negruzzi, Vasile Alecsandri and Mihai Codreanu). In this edition we thought we would put the emphasis on Creanga, so we launched a collection of five volumes signed by contemporary writers (Matei Vișniec, Bogdan Alexandru Stănescu, Veronica D. Niculescu, Lavinia Braniște, Alexandru Vakulovski), who accepted the challenge of writing a sequel to a story by Ioin Creanga. For every day of the five we will be presenting one of the volumes at the FILIT Childhood House.”
FILIT House also hosts the visual arts exhibition called 'Letters to Julien the Hospitaler', with works by 20 artists from Romania, France, and Italy, curated by graphic artist Dragos Patrascu. This 7th edition also hosts the inaugurations of a series of exhibitions called 'In Memoriam Emil Brumaru'.