People from more than 60 countries came together to enjoy 8 days and 30 online events at the Summer Nostos Festival: RetroFuture Edition
Events are available on demand at SNFestival.org
From Athens to Crete, from Malaysia to Canada, people from more than 60 countries came together—virtually, of course—to enjoy wholesome summer fun and join in illuminating discussion at the online Summer Nostos Festival RetroFuture Edition. The SNFestival, organized by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), took place last week from June 21 to 28, but if you missed out, you can still catch the exciting events.
This year’s SNFestival was different from any other, since we couldn’t meet up in person at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) in Athens, as we have each of the past five years. Nevertheless, in the midst of crisis, the Festival still created space for moments of joy, of catharsis, of discovery, and of togetherness with a diverse group of artists, musicians, performers, thinkers, and attendees. It was a testament to all that unites us; wherever in the world we live, whatever language we speak, in the end, we can laugh at, be excited by, worry about, and enjoy the same things.
This first online edition of the SNFestival presented more than 60 artists and speakers in 30 events, including the SNF Conference, the SNF DIALOGUES hosted in collaboration with the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University, the charitable Virtual SNF Run, concerts, performances, and kids’ programs.
Highlights included a look into artist William Kentridge’s creative process at his studio in South Africa, a joyful singing event with Choir! Choir! Choir! that starred members of the audience, and Theater of War Productions’ The Oedipus Project. Watched live by more than 3,500 people around the world, The Oedipus Project featured exceptional performances from Oscar Isaac as Oedipus and Frances McDormand as Jocasta, as well as from Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Frankie Faison, David Strathairn, Glenn Davis, Marjolaine Goldsmith, and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Νia Vardalos, taking on a role different than those we’re used to seeing her in, was one of the wonderful surprises of this year’s SNFestival. Vardalos and four other esteemed actors each read short stories related to the theme of artificial intelligence in an event by Selected Shorts, a radio broadcast institution with one of the most popular podcasts on iTunes.
Discussion between two chess legends, Garry Kasparov and Judit Polgár, who analyzed the ways in which technology has affected competition, brought unexpected insights and inspired young players. Viewers were transported by atmospheric, electrifying concerts, including a replay of the 2018 Stereo Nova concert on the Great Lawn of the SNFCC and Woman Suspended by Dimitris Kamarotos and Anna Pangalou, broadcast against the backdrop of a sunset-lit Athenian sky. And there could have been no better close to the festival than the ΜΕΛΙSSES concert performed on the roof of the SNFCC. The beloved Greek band performed some of their best songs and debuted, for the first time, their new song “Where is love” (Πού ‘ναι η αγάπη), leaving us with a treasured moment in a strange summer.
The online SNF Conference welcomed leading thinkers and practitioners, including Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California Berkeley; Eric Klinenberg, Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University;Bill T. Jones, Co-Founder of New York Live Arts; Aarathi Krishnan, Humanitarian Futures and Strategic Foresight Advisor; Tristan Harris, President of the Center for Humane Technology; Tenzin Priyadarshi, President and CEO of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at ΜΙΤ; and Francesca Rossi, AI Ethics Global Leader at IBM. Together, we envisioned an human-centric approach to coexisting with artificial intelligence, imagined the post-COVID world we would like to create, talked about the long road toward racial justice in the United States and around the world, and explored our options—what is possible and what is necessary in our extraordinary present. The 10th SNF Conference, set for next year, will focus on “Humanity and Artificial Intelligence,” a theme previewed in the second day of discussions at this year’s Conference.
Following the SNF Conference, the SNF DIALOGUES and the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University cohosted an online discussion exploring what COVID-19 is revealing about the role of technology in society, democracy and our collective future.
For the first Virtual SNF Run, almost 900 runners came together to share in the joy of the sport and contribute to a good cause. From Athens, Lefkada, Evros, and Chania to Berlin, London, Toronto, and New York, the runners went the distance together, donating around €7,000. With an additional contribution from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), the total amount raised for the Greek hospitals of runners’ choosing was tripled.
“What we tried to accomplish, in this unprecedented period, was to stay together during this week in June, to maintain the atmosphere and the emotions of ‘nostos,’” remarked SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos, “The word ‘nostos,’ which inspired the name of our festival, means a return home after a long and difficult journey. We all know that we have many issues to face as a global society, and unless we proactively come together to face them, we will not prevail. We have to act more, but we have to talk first.”
Come what may, we look forward to seeing all of you next year, June 20-27, 2021, for a week of bold, optimistic, and inclusive events, true to the spirit of the SNFestival.
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The SNF Conference, the SNF DIALOGUES, and the online event for the Virtual SNF Run were hosted and moderated by SNF DIALOGUES Executive Director, iMEdD Managing Director, and journalist, Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou. The SNFestival program was hosted by Mark Mitton, Nantia Kontogeorgi, Lambros Fisfis, and George Chatzipavlou.
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If you missed the SNFestival: RetroFuture Edition—or if you watched the whole thing but want to see it again—events are available to view on demand:
For the full lineup of SNFestival events, click here.
For the SNF Conference click here.
For the SNF DIALOGUES, click here.
For the Virtual SNF Run click here.
Because live, spontaneous reactions and discussion are integral to the nature of the event, The Oedipus Project by Theater of War Productions is not available to stream.