Ideas festival gets underway across city


Leeds International Festival gets underway this week, running across the city from Friday until 12 May.

Billed as the UK’s leading metropolitan festival of new ideas and innovation, it features a programme of compelling speakers, original performances and discussion that celebrates innovations in science, music, interactive media and international culture.

The University’s Cultural Institute is among the event’s partners, and a film screening and photography exhibition this weekend features a project closely linked to work by Dr Thea Pitman, Director of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies in the University’s School of Languages, Cultures and Societies.

The film, Indigenous People Go Digital, highlights the culture and traditions of several indigenous groups from north-eastern Brazil, examining the ways in which these communities, supported by a non-governmental organisation, Thydêwá, have used digital tools to help increase their visibility, fight prejudice and lobby the government for their rights.

The screening is on Saturday, 28 April, 7-9pm, in Duke Studios. It is free to attend, but places are limited and filling up fast. Book here.

The documentary is in Portuguese, with English subtitles, and will be followed with a Q&A session with Thydêwá’s director, Sebastián Gerlic, in conjunction with Dr Maria das Dores de Oliveira of the Pankararu community.

The Digital Natives photography exhibition opens at 34-38 Boar Lane from 11am on Saturday. There will also be children’s photography and art workshops on Sunday, allowing those aged from six to 16 to experiment with what being a ‘digital native’ might look like to them. The Sunday children’s activities are also free, but must be booked here.

The exhibition will remain at the venue (formerly Mr Awkwright’s Tool Emporium), until May 1, then move up to Leeds University Union from 3-12 May. Images from the exhibition can currently be seen on one of the giant LEEDS letters at the entrance to the train station, and on banners across the city.

Dr Pitman said: “The exhibition, children’s art workshops and film screening have all come about as a result of my work looking at how Latin American indigenous communities have appropriated the internet and the terms they have chosen to use to express their relationship to it.

“I absolutely love working with Thydêwá and going beyond the bounds of my normal academic comfort zone.”

Dr Pitman is currently working on a British Academy-funded project in collaboration with Thydêwá, studying the process of digital art creation among the indigenous communities with which the NGO works.

Read more about her work in a blog here, and more about the project here.

The Cultural Institute brokers pioneering research collaborations with creative sector partners, widens cultural engagement and participation and builds the skills students.

Now in its second year, the festival is organised by Welcome to Leeds and the Leeds BID (Business Improvement District).

Further information

Image shows Jaguatirica Tupinambá. Picture: Sebastián Gerlic.