Antidote festival adds Kerry O’Brien, Wendy Harmer, David Speers and Lenore Taylor to its lineup

The Sydney Opera House’s Antidote festival, which is joined this year by partner The Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas, has added a number of speakers to its lineup for 2019.

The announcement:

New speakers, workshops and visual arts elements have been added to the Antidote 2019 line-up, taking place at the Sydney Opera House on 1 September 2019. They join previously announced headliners including: Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie; two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Steve Coll; Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt; and Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson.

Antidote will take over Australia’s most recognisable meeting place with pioneering ideas from some of the world’s leading creative minds and agents of change. A vital response to our uncertain times, Antidote provides a platform for essential conversations, consensus-building and practical solutions. The addition of new speakers and artists adds another dimension to the themes of this year’s festival including: the blurring roles of journalism and activism; the power of grass-roots movements; alternative housing solutions for the next generation; the concept of justice; and the economics of disability.

Sydney Opera House’s Head of Talks & Ideas and Antidote Festival Director, Dr Edwina Throsby, says: “Antidote is a place where people come together to tackle the urgent problems facing the world right now. Be it the political upheaval in Hong Kong or the dire need to address the climate crisis, the global experts and local thought leaders on these issues will gather for one amazing weekend at the Sydney Opera House.”

For the first time in 2019, Antidote is partnering with the recently-established Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism & Ideas (JNI). Complementing two already announced sessions on journalism in authoritarian environments and free speech, a new panel on covering climate change has been announced featuring Columbia Journalism Review editor and Climate Now co-founder Kyle Pope; Australian of the Year (2007), explorer and conservationist Tim Flannery, CNN Indonesia anchor Desi Anwar and Australian author Anna Rose. The session, moderated by six time Walkley award-winning media personality Kerry O’Brien, will address whether the media has failed in reporting on climate change and explore how it should approach the topic now.

JNI director Mark Ryan says: “JNI wants to encourage open debate about difficult issues – how should media report on them and how can we expand the space for rational debate? Antidote provides a global platform for some of the best minds in the world to consider these issues with goodwill and in good faith.”

Additional Antidote speakers and moderators announced include:

Cantopop singer, pro-democracy and LGBTQ rights activist and key figure in Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement Denise Ho will appear in conversation with VICE UK Editor and author Zing Tsjeng following Ho’s recent address at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva;

Beijing Bureau Chief for The Washington Post and author of The Great Successor: The Secret Rise and Rule of Kim Jong Un Anna Fifield will join North Korea’s former Deputy Ambassador to the United Kingdom turned defector Thae Yong-ho;

American international attorney Kimberley Motley, the first foreign lawyer to practice law in Afghanistan, will appear on a Unlocking Justice panel with Miles Franklin Award-winning author of Goorie and European heritage Melisa Lucashenko (who co-founded Sisters Inside in 1992) and restorative justice practitioner and former police officer Peta Blood, moderated by Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman, academic and host of ABC’s Speaking Out, Larissa Behrendt;

City of Sydney Councillor Jess Scully will moderate a panel addressing alternative models of housing and home ownership featuring Peter Mares, author of Not Quite Australian: How Temporary Migration Is Changing the Nation; Louise Crabtree, Western Sydney University social geographer; and Jeremy McLeod, founder of Nightingale Housing;

Veteran Kenyan editor and country manager for open data institute Code for Africa Catherine Gicheru and long-time Africa correspondent, New Narratives co-founder and JNI Senior Executive Prue Clarke will join Executive Director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division Mausi Segun for a panel on Press and Power in Africa moderated by Elaine Pearson from Human Rights Watch Australia;

A panel on the Economics of Disability across numerous intersections will examine the benefits of inclusion for individual organisations and the broader economy, along with the compounding difficulties for people with disability obtaining full-time, properly paid employment. Speakers include Worimi man and CEO of First Peoples Disability Network Damian Griffis and Western Australian disability and human rights activist Samantha Connor;

A panel featuring Larissa Behrendt and Gunai/Kurnai, Gunditjmara, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta writer Nayuka Gorrie will spotlight the Aboriginal Massacre mapping work by Newcastle University’s Colonial Frontier Massacres Project team;

Professor and veteran foreign correspondent Peter Greste, who has worked in some of the world’s most volatile places for almost three decades, will chair a panel co-curated with JNI titled My Crime is Journalism featuring Filipino-American journalist and co-founder of Rappler Maria Ressa, co-founder and editor of Egyptian newspaper Mada Masr Lina Attalah and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, New Yorker staff writer and Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University Steve Coll;

Jewish-Australian journalist, author and broadcaster Ramona Koval will appear in conversation with Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt on the 80th anniversary of Germany invading Poland at the beginning of World War II;

Antidote Festival Director Edwina Throsby will moderate The State We’re In, a session dissecting nationhood in a globalised society featuring Irish journalist and Brexit commentator Fintan O’Toole, Deborah Lipstadt and Melisa Lucashenko;

Guardian Australia editor Lenore Taylor will host a discussion on dark data between Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie and Russian security expert Andrei Soldatov;

Sky News Australia political editor David Speers will moderate the Who Gets to Speak panel, co-curated with JNI, on recent free speech controversies featuring Bruce Shapiro, Lina Attalah and Sisonke Msimang. Speers will also moderate a session on The Problem with Polling with Bela Stantic, Rebecca Huntley and Antony Green;

ABC Radio Sydney Breakfast co-host Wendy Harmer will join Kate Holden and Fiona Wright in reinterpreting the catastrophes of our times as fables in a session co-curated and hosted by Saturday Paper Editor-in-Chief Erik Jensen;

And Australian TV presenter, music producer and actor Faustina Agolley will lead a confessional deep dive into pop culture obsessions and escapism with journalists and authors Zing Tsjeng, Patrick Lenton and Brigid Delaney. Agolley will also moderate a conversation with Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson on the potential for justice and change in the face of violence and racism.

Additional Antidote workshops:
The Deaf Society will host a FREE Auslan (Australian Sign Language) workshop; and Sharon Windsor of Indigiearth will host a Native Tea Making workshop using key native ingredients illustrating their medicinal and remedial uses.

A free solo exhibition along the Western Broadwalk, Acts of Appearance (2015-ongoing) will feature work by Delhi-based photographer Gauri Gill previously shown at MoMA PS1 in New York. The playful series depicts members of India’s Indigenous Konkan tribe in the Jawhar district of Maharashtra dressed in masks performing routine activities, conveying the tribe’s deep-rooted environmental connection and the performative enactment of daily life.

The world premiere of connectIRL, a short film directed by Vonne Patiag and produced by Sheila Ngoc Pham – part social experiment, part exploratory visual documentary – will be shown in The Lounge. Six strangers responding to a Gumtree advertisement are blindfolded in pairs and answer intimate questions in a social experiment designed to explore how we define ourselves and connect with strangers away from technology and the saturated world of social media.

Source: Sydney Opera House media release


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