To dare.

To look for hope.

To hope.

To persevere.

To persist.

To remain.

To have courage.

This year’s Vilenica laureate, the Austrian writer Josef Winkler, who strings together minute images in the dusk of never-defunct Nazism and inevitable passing and death, is a man who resists. He breaks the taboos of a harrowing environment, and sometimes he is the only one to speak up. “I cover everything I have been through with leaves of gold that are language.” That is what he stands for. And for change.

Vilenica has grown from the courage that has understood social and political shifts for 36 years, responding to them and amending itself. It remains – primarily as a Central European festival that matures through linguistic and cultural diversity.

The fear present in today’s terrorised world that sets new boundaries and imposes new forms of control calls for courage, just as a different fear did decades ago. With rising nationalisms and totalitarianisms, and physical, social and psychological isolation in the pandemic, Vilenica does not surrender and does not stay silent. “Is fear just the other side of courage?” is this year’s main motto.

Courage connects. Over one thousand writers have already met at Vilenica. This year, there are 14, coming from 10 countries. Due to the circumstances governing a different, pandemic reality, the 36th Vilenica Festival will combine digital content and live events. There will be video portraits, authors reading in their first language, and two portrait films, each dedicated to the laureate and the Slovenian author in focus.

The 19th Comparative Literature Colloquium will examine the complex relationships between literature and war. In 1974, during the peaceful revolution, the Portuguese carried carnations instead of weapons, making them a symbol of freedom and courage. This year, Portuguese writers representatives of this year’s “literature in focus,” are taking their sweet longing online. According to Milan Dekleva, this year’s Slovene author in focus, courage is “experiencing the other, the dissimilar and the different.”

And that is Wonderful.