October 25, 2017

Drawn from the Hindu Sanskrit philosophy ‘Sangkan Paraning Dumadi’, ‘Origins’ is the theme of the 14th annual Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF). It speaks of the cyclical nature of things, particularly birth, life and the afterlife. In the words of UWRF Founder & Director Janet DeNeefe, “This year’s theme invites us to consider the biggest picture – to contemplate not just our connections from person to person, but as a collective humanity extending across people, the planet and periods of time.” Read on for my top picks of this year’s program.


It’s A Family Affair!

Minions by Moonlight is a free event set to enchant fans of the Despicable Me/Minions film franchise and pop culture phenomenon. On October 27 at 7pm, the Blanco Museum plays host to a screening of Despicable Me 3 (the latest in the series). Its co-director and the voice of the adorable yellow Minions, French-Indonesian Pierre Coffin will be there to answer questions and share the fun.And who can we thank for bringing Coffin into the world? His mother, one of Indonesia’s first feminist writers, Nh. Dini. For her extraordinary canon and contribution to Indonesian literature, she will receive the Festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gala Opening. She’ll also reveal the flame that sustained her prolific 50+ year writing career in an in-conversation with of Indonesia’s most respected authors and journalists, Leila S. Chudori, on Day 1 of the Main Program.


Workshops To Get You Where You’re Going

A number of the Festival’s perennially popular workshops still have tickets remaining at time of print. Check out Crafting Fables with Tom Lang and Writing Online with Guardian senior writer Brigid Delaney (she’ll also be discussing her new book Wellmania in what is set to be an uproarious Festival Club @ Bar Luna session on 27 October). Head to the individual workshop pages on the Festival website to grab your spot before it’s too late.


A Fresh Start?

Coffee Roasting at Home is a brand new addition to the Kitchen Program, which features the Festival’s more culinarily-inclined speakers – or indeed, caffeine-inclined. Kadek Edi, one of the first Balinese to earn the title of Q Grader (which means he can rate cups of coffee on a wide range of factors such as sweetness, uniformity, acidity, and so on) will teach all attendees how to go from freshly harvested green coffee beans to a fine cup of brewed coffee. That’s happening on 29 October at 9:30am, at Seniman Coffee Studio, Jalan Sri Wedari, Ubud.

Want to support communities affected by Mount Agung? All proceeds from the Origins Fundraiser Night on 26 October will go directly to evacuation shelters. From 6:30pm until 10pm, expect Indonesian creative arts at its finest with performances from the legendary Papermoon Puppet Theatre and Eko Supriyanto, the leading dancer-choreographer of his generation.



Just a few steps away from Indus Restaurant, the Festival Hub is the buzzing epicenter of the action, home to free film screenings, music performances from sensational Indonesian acts and dozens of delicious food stalls. Do not miss Rocking Against Prejudice on 28 October, headlined by the all-girl Muslim metal band from West Java, Voice of Baceprot, who with their headscarves and bass guitars have received international media attention for challenging stereotypes of young Muslim women. Those who love to have an espresso or a cocktail with their lit can take in the free nightly offerings at Festival Club @ Bar Luna. Hipsters and backpackers rub elbows with war correspondents and recording artists, at this chummy mainstay of the UWRF. Take the stairs going down from Casa Luna, in the heart of Ubud.Poetry slams have been a part of the Ubud literary scene since the Festival’s own origins. Readers who grabbed this issue hot off the press can hoof it to Ubud for the Women of Words Poetry Slam at Betelnut (8pm to 10:30pm). Betelnut also hosts the Saturday night open Poetry Slam on 28 October at 8pm.


Before We All Go Home

UWRF’s Closing Night Party is a Festival tradition full of fun and surprises, and is the Festival team’s thank you to the 180+ volunteers who put in the time and energy to make the wheels keep turning. Dance the night away, hug your new Festival friends, and toast the talents of Indonesia and beyond.


Full Circle

So it’s the end of October and you think you missed the Festival? There might be a ticket or two left for the special Sanur Fringe Event Stories by the Sea at the exquisite Tandjung Sari Hotel. Enjoy a sumptuous three-course dinner with bestselling author and world class adventurer Simon Winchester, OBE, whose captivating Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded (how topical is that?) might even be on your bookshelf. 31 October, 6:30pm to 9:00pm.


For all information and to buy tickets, head to www.ubudwritersfestival.com.

Bali Advertiser readers can save 20% on 4-Day and 1-Day Main Program passes by entering the code MPBA17 at booking checkout.