Opening Night - Free the Word!
On the Opening Night of the Winternachten festival 2018 the focus was on freedom of speech.
Pauline Krikke, Mayor of The Hague, opened the festival followed by a word of welcome by Ton van de Langkruis, Director of Winternachten festival. Jennifer Clement, writer and President of PEN International introduced Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid. His novel Exit West was nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2017. On the occasion of the Opening Night, Hamid delivers the Free the Word! speech.
The prestigious Oxfam Novib PEN Awards, presented to the winners by Oxfam Novib director Farah Karimi, honour writers who currently risk their freedom and even their lives to seek out and publish the truth.
The winners of the Oxfam Novib PEN Awards 2018 are journalist and writer Milagros Socorro from Venezuela and journalist Eskinder Nega from Ethiopia. Nega is imprisoned in his homeland and is therefore not attending to receive his Award.
The award ceremony was followed by an introduction of the award winners during the PEN Conversation by journalist and Nieuwsuur-anchor Eelco Bosch van Rosenthal.
The Opening Night programme further included performances by Boi Akih (world jazz) and Joost Baars (poetry). The programme was hosted by Margot Dijkgraaf, literary critic who regularly publishes in Dutch national newspaper NRC, and Chair of the Board of the Writers Unlimited organisation.
The Opening Night is organized in collaboration with Oxfam Novib, PEN International and PEN Nederland.