On September 7, the 22nd international literature festival berlin opened with a festive event in attendance of the public and hundreds of guests of honor from politics and culture.
Prior to the welcoming speeches, the event started with a musical performance by the Ukrainian bandurist Hanna Rabenko. This was followed by official greetings by Klaus Lederer, Senator for Culture and Europe, Matthias Pees, Director of the Berliner Festspiele and Ulrich Schreiber, Festival Director of the ilb.
Following this, David Van Reybrouck’s Opening Speech began with powerful words: »By the end of this talk, an estimated three to four species will be extinct.« The speech by the author and historian addressed the catastrophic effects of climate change, making striking connections to the destructive mechanisms of colonialism: »We are behaving like the colonisers of future generations. We are depriving them of their freedom, their health, possibly even their lives.«
However, in addition to distressing images, Van Reybrouck also offered some words of hope for the Berlin audience, stating, »We, the younger generations, did not choose this past, but we can choose another future. We can show that we have learned from the mistakes of the past.«
On the same day, in the morning, the Opening of the section International Children’s and Young Adult Literature took place: The official speech was given by U.S. writer and best-selling author Angeline Boulley, an enrolled member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan. In her highly personal speech, Boulley advocated in particular for appropriate representation of indigenous peoples in children’s and young adult literature: »Every child and teen deserves to see their lived experiences portrayed in a book.«
After her speech, Boulley spoke with moderator Toby Ashraf about the content, themes and creation of her best-selling book »Firekeeper’s Daughter«. Boulley already came up with the idea at the age of 18, and eventually published the book at 55. She also spoke about the situation of Natives in the U.S. today and addressed problems that are particularly evident at the level of politics and education.
You can find the two Opening Speeches in full length on our YouTube channel: