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Issue 72 - October 2010

Monday 1 November 2010 by Ina Doublekova

comiXculture at The International Comics Festival “Salon Stripa”

(JPG) In the beginning of October, the 8th International Comics Festival took place in Belgrade, Serbia. “Salon Stripa” is one of the largest comics’ conventions in the region, organized annually by the legendary Student Cultural Center. The four days of the festival look like a colorful kaleidoscope, which represents all major voices in the world of comics: scriptwriters, illustrators, publishers, critics and of course - the true comics fans. It’s versatile program includes a ceremony, where best script, traditional and alternative comics are awarded, comics-creation workshops, presentations of key figures of the comics scene, exhibitions and a market place.

(JPG) comiXculture project of Next Page, which talks about diversity issues through the comics genre, was one of the two international comics projects, presented at the 8th edition of “Salon Stripa”. Located in the main hall, the stand of comiXculture offered free promotion materials and displayed the comics works, produced within the project’s frame. Further, in the “prime time” on Saturday night, comiXculture was presented by its coordinator Ina Doublekova and the two of the project’s artists, Vladimir Palibrk and Toma Pan. The panelists debated on first-hand experiences in combating stereotypes, the importance of artistic exchange and networking, and the difficulties of using documentary approach in art. In addition, in order to offer to the gathered audience a more complete insight into the comiXculture’s world, the just produced project’s trailer was broadcasted publicly for a first time. The film will be soon available at the web site of the project – www.comixculture.org.

comiXculture iniatiative was highly-praised by the visitors of the festival for its combination of quality drawings and important social themes. Furthermore, the organizers noted on farewell that comiXculture “added meaningful content” to “Salon Stripa” and the project got invited for being a special guest of the 2011’s edition.

“Dare to Dream!”

(JPG) The 103rd school is situated at the edge of Filipovci neighborhood, one of the largest Roma settlements in Sofia, and it is mainly attended by kids from the district.

It is already 6 p.m. on the Monday, 4th of October, and the last school-bell has just rung. Surprisingly, instead of impatiently running out, the students start to gather in one of the classrooms. The space is normally meant for up-to 30 pupils but today 60 manage to squeeze-in.

The reason for this excitement? There will be a school performance! The middle school students have been rehearsing all day long the dramatization of “My Grandma and the Wild Swans”, a book by Tossen Ramar, written and published as part of Our Stories project of Next Page. Now, they are showing their version in front of their junior classmates and the author himself. For most of the actors, that is their first appearance on stage and all of them feel proud at the end.

Tossen Ramar, though not planning to speak, passionately shared a few words with the kids: “My dear friends, I have a big request towards you: Dare to dream! Look around, think what is your dream, what is the passion inside your heart and be brave enough to follow it! I am tired of seeing Roma people cleaning the streets. I want to see people from your generation to be working in the nice offices, to be part of the decision-makers in Bulgaria, to be an integral part of the society. And you should know that there is only one way to get there – through education!”

Honest statement like this one, made from an author with the same ethnic background, definitely sounds more powerful and is better heard. At the end of the performance, free copies of the book, in its Bulgarian and Romani versions, were distributed among the actors and their audience. Meanwhile, “My Grandma and the Wild Swans” was awarded with special price of the jury of the 1st “National Competition for Childrens’ Books” in Gotche Delchev, Bulgaria.

New Book Published

Tochman, Wojciech, Like Eating a Stone: Surviving the Past in Bosnia, transl. into Arabic by Ibrahim Omar (Dar Nevro, Egypt 2010), supported by the South-South Translation Program of Next Page

(JPG) The collection gathers accounts of Bosnian civilians, mainly women, told around year 2000, when they travel through the post-war landscape, revealing the drastic and terrifying experience of Muslims during the war in Yugoslavia (1992-1995). A mother is looking for the bodies of her children; a wife does not know where and how her husband was killed; relatives are present at the opening of a mass grave. Through the technique of “minimal reportage” the narrator succeeds to dive deeply into the traumatized world of the protagonists, and speak with their voices, driven to the extreme. While intentionally avoiding grand historical conclusions, Tochman’s work implies that ethnic hatred leads to reality destruction, after which there is no chance for the humanity to rebuild life. Wojciech Tochman is a Polish writer and journalist, who runs an own organization for looking for missing people in his country. In 2003 the book is awarded the Polish Nike Literary Prize in 2003.