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KEMBALI20: Kevin Kwan, Oka Rusmini, Eka Kurniawan and other great speakers you should see at Rebuild Bali virtual festival



There’s no denying that our world looks drastically different today than it was last year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t engage in thought-provoking discussions from the safety and comfort of our homes amid this pandemic. , is not it?

Well, for those of us who have been looking forward to the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) or Ubud Food Festival (UFF) in 2020, their organizers have created a virtual alternative this year, titled BACK20: A Rebuild Bali festival, which will take place from October 29 to November 8.

The full lineup and schedules for the event, which is expected to bring together the most successful elements of UWRF and UFF, were announced recently, with some pretty exciting speakers, including the famous Singaporean American writer behind. Rich and crazy Asians, Indonesians own literary stars Eka Kurniawan and Dee Lestari, not to mention discussions that are closer to home for those of us in Bali, ranging from thriving citizen journalism to preserving local folklore.

With over 60 digital sessions spread over 11 days, you’re spoiled for choice, so Bali coconut is here with a preview of the sessions that in our humble opinion you shouldn’t miss during Back. Oh, note that some of the sessions are pre-recorded, but members of the public can submit their questions before recording here.

Ben Bland: The man of contradictions: Joko Widodo and the struggle to remake Indonesia

Thursday October 29, 2 p.m.-3 p.m.

For those of you who don’t know, Man of contradictions is the first English-language biography of President Joko Widodo and explains how the 59-year-old is caught between democracy and authoritarianism, openness and protectionism, as well as Islam and pluralism. Written by Ben Bland, who is a former journalist and currently works as the Southeast Asia Program Director at the Lowy Institute, the book and discussion may well provide insight into Jokowis’ leadership during the pandemic. COVID-19.

Keeping Balis folklore alive

Thursday October 29, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

These days there is always talk of how to get back to old Bali. While this discussion is mostly reserved for the fact that tourism has taken over much of this island (until the pandemic hit), some also touch on the growing perception that certain aspects of Balinese traditions are dying. Starring Balinese culture advocate Made Taro, son Gede Tarmada, and Balinese writer Kadek Purnami, this session is expected to discuss all about traditional Balis games, songs, and powerful and interesting folklore. They say knowledge is power and maybe these kinds of discussions will bring new appreciation to truly preserve these precious traditions in our modern world.

Etgar Keret: anything but ordinary

Saturday October 31, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

In this session featuring Israeli writer Etgar Keret, audiences are invited to expect anything but the ordinary. It roughly matches the man, who is known for his uniquely Israeli iteration of magical realism.

My stories come from a very unconscious place. I don’t premeditate them, I don’t know what’s going to happen to them, he said. There’s not much else to do but see this interview for ourselves, it seems.

Eka Kurniawans Indonesia

Sunday November 1, 2:20 p.m. to 3:20 p.m.

Eka Kurniawan is a household name in the Indonesian literary scene, known as the most internationally renowned Indonesian author since Pramoedya Ananta Toer. We all read Beauty is a wound (Beauty is a wound), right? The subject of this conference seems quite broad, because there is so much about this country that can be talked about, but if it comes from the mind of Eka Kurniawan, everything was by ear.

Citizen journalism Balis

Wednesday November 4, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Much of what is discussed in Bali can be attributed to the contributions of citizen journalism, and this has become even stronger in recent years thanks to social media. It only takes a few hours for a video to take its turn and turns into a heated debate, as we’ve seen with many things that have gone viral in the past year alone. Showcasing portraits of Bale Bengong and Tatkala community journalism, this session looks set to give us insight into the issues at the heart of Balinese communities.

Jose Ramos-Horta: Peace and Governance in Timor Leste

Wednesday November 4, 5-6 p.m.

There is not enough coverage of East Timor to make it seem as though the world understands so little about the young country. So it’s pretty exciting that during this Back session, we got to hear Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of East Timor himself, Jose Ramos Hortais, as he talks about his life, his country and the impact of the COVID pandemic -19 on the fundamental principles of democracy.

Oka Rusmini: Coblong men

Thursday November 5, 4-5 p.m.

Oka Rusmini may have been born in Jakarta, but her works are deeply rooted in her Balinese past, as some of us may have known through one of her popular works, Earth dance (Dance of the Earth). Now, Coblong men is a collection of her work, featuring the titular character of a middle-aged woman raising a son, who expresses her responses to religious sensibilities, culture, politics and everyday life. With Oka known for her writings on the condition of women in patriarchal cultures, there will be much to discuss during this session.

Kevin Kwan: Sex and vanity

Saturday November 7, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The author of Crazy Rich Asians is back with a new novel: Sex and vanity. Released earlier this year in June, her latest book is a modern love story between two cultures and two breathtaking places, featuring her signature spirit and an exploration of Asian-American identity and WASP (Anglo Protestant – white saxons). Does this sound like something you would be in? Mark this session on your calendars for a discussion on his entry into Hollywood history and the questioning of ultra-health with Kevin Kwan.

Krithika Varagur: The call: as part of the Saudi global religious project

Sunday November 8, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Krithika Varagurs’ exploration of Saudi Arabia’s soft power play has been much discussed, as it provides insight into what it really means when a country exports its ideology. This should be of particular interest to those of us in Indonesia, as she offers the country as one of her case studies. This should be a discussion of religion, politics and, naturally, what we really mean when we talk about Saudi money.


Run off Backs online sessions, members of the public must first donate to their Patron Foundation program. This will give you an email containing the registration link and a unique code, from which you can create a user account. Guests are invited to choose to donate IDR 150,000 (USD 10), IDR 200,000, IDR 500,000, IDR 1,000,000 or more. Donations give you access to over 60 Backs main digital program, which will be available for re-watch next month after the festival.

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