Reference principles

The National Festival of Cultures in its target pursuit agrees to some reference principles.

The Festival wishes to cultivate a “childlike” spirit of openness in the face of complexity and of “real” transformation. It suggests for this aim an honest approach, able to superimpose micro and macro “revelation” without anxiety in the presence of chaos.  It urges a dynamism that embraces and analyses the personal and collective identities in a multiple and balanced way. The Festival does not suggest truths or solutions. It does not cultivate superficial illusions  of “panacea”, but suggests readings and active interpretations that encompass the complexity. For this aim it rejects a rigid approach and rather cultivates a spirit of continuous looking to the future through the eyes of the visionary, the adventurous, the playful, even foolish while at the same time maintaining discipline.

The Festival firmly intends not to diminish the individual foundations, to refuse a fake pluralism, a premature levelling of  differences.  Instead it underlines the communities without concealing superficially or the most thorny aspects. This principle is dictated by the experience of the inter-religious dialogue which teaches that by hiding  or debasing the differences it brings to the implosion of the dialogue itself, to a fruitless relativism that does not remove the obstacles, does not conduct to the hoped-for results, does not assure stability. The Festival concedes that the differences are not the ones capable to prevent dialogue; it is not necessary to lighten or to abdicate our own  identities to achieve peaceful targets. To the interlocutors involved this is offered, in an atmosphere of deep mutual respect. This approach regulates and unites the paths offered within the Festival which intends to be an instrument for the sincere and constructive dialogue, based on a pedagogy of difference, capable of associating mankind without cancelling his personal story, the deep foundations which demand to live and not to be forged. The aim of the Festival is not therefore to look for a common denominator but it is the research for harmony and pacific coexistence between people and various cultures. To avoid all misunderstandings, it is nevertheless necessary to understand the distinction between “foundations”, what we regard as fundamental, important, essential, and “fundamentalism”, in other words, the behaviour of intolerance which is in the name of  its own foundations to crush the others’ rights.  To adhere to some foundations does not therefore mean to cancel or exclude the other or to debase convictions on the fundamental and vital questions which mankind has always and will always investigate (such as the meaning of life, the origins and the end of the world…) matters that have to be protected with extreme delicacy. The respect of foundations should not be thus confused with fundamentalist activities capable to create grounds for racism, nor should it be confused with rigidity, with the subsiding of aberrations and persecutions, with the contempt of the other’s dignity, of a difference to be eliminated in order to avoid a dangerous discussion. The Festival wants to avoid this drift and with simplicity and humbleness wishes to bring back the debate on the human and interpersonal level, leaving to the “foundations” a level of dignity and real respect.

The Festival promoters have always considered themselves essentially “a net” bringing into communication private citizens, institutions, experts in mediation, academic staff, teachers, students, the world of associationism, and religious communities. The net thickens with each edition, enriches and assumes new shadings.

Although the Festival has always relied on public and private institutions which have supported it with enthusiasm, from it’s first edition the Festival has strongly upheld the emergence of proposals from the bottom up, from the civil society, from those that daily live the “inclusion question”, often without having the ways and means to face conflicting situations.

The festival builds a receptive climate far from ineffective and immature good feelings, from a false acceptance which conceals stereotypes, prejudices, an empty, superficial “tolerance” that recalls the etymology, to that “tolero” which refers to a weight unit.

Being well aware that it is not possible to force an accepting attitude and initiate a path with those who are hostile to dialogue itself, the Festival pursues the agreement of “apocalyptics” to explicit reservations, personal and of groups, with the purpose of listening and understanding the profound closing explanations. In order to do this in a constructive rather than a distracting way, to not risk becoming chaotic, and to behave without a concrete purpose, it is therefore necessary to protect the dialogue itself from the stumbling blocks, the reversals of direction, and from the obstacles placed by anyone who erects himself in an intransigent, extremist, irrevocable way.

The festival has always cultivated a multidisciplinary approach, with the conviction that in front of the deep cultural modifications going on, the answer strategies must be variegated, creative, capable of  a multidimensional reality, reaching a variety of  complementary knowledges, disparate expressive forms, capable of rendering fruitful the debate away from the (useless) categorisations or hierarchical systems.

The Festival organisation with its numerous events pursues a principle of simplicity, persuaded that the contents must be privileged and must not be hidden or misunderstood by complex forms of communication. This logic has never been of detriment for the quality of the events nor for the involved experts’ competence, often of high prestige.

No matter how many activities of the world of University, Research, Theoretic Speculation, Training Courses, there are, The Festival devotes a privileged attention to the expressive forms that deeply affect the collective imagination such as music, dancing, photography, cinema and audio-visuals in general. An important role in this re-discovery path is also assigned to food and sports, media capable of drawing out and  awakening the interests of the most reluctant people.

The Festival wishes to encourage deep personal sharing by the involved actors, safeguarding the surfacing of emotions, considered a key point in fostering mediation and dialogue. To be avoided are expressions of romantic sentimentalism, or a pragmatic “scientific” approach. In order to perceive this end, without conciliatory attitudes and illusions, the festival promotes a research of the language “of the heart” declined in various articulations and expressions.  We could define that language using the universal etymology and “emotional” meaning of “movere”, “moving from…towards something or somebody”. To concretise this principle it is nevertheless necessary to add some “good will” by the creation of physical/ideal places including the natural passage of time in order not to force the situations.

The Festival organises in each edition activities and projects addressed to the new generations, believing it necessary in order to give voice to the future citizens who will live in a more and more multi-ethnic world and who will always have to deal more and more with the inter-religious debate. For these reasons some courses such as  teacher training, intercultural projects in schools, are organised and calibrated with the language, methods and goals designed for lower and upper level students. Experience shows how fruitful and  optimistic it can be to supervise the energies of a dialogic path towards education, to work with new generations and with people who are “open minded” and “open hearted”, willing to take up the challenge of living together.

The Festival is based on voluntarism. Economic remunerations are not considered for any expert involved, even the famous international ones. This gratuitous element guarantees the lack of conflict of interest for the participation of intellectuals, mediators, academic Professors, religious exponents who are sincerely motivated to give a personal contribution to the dialogue.

The Festival  wishes to include and to involve in an active way all the participants as they search together for participatory elements, offering an adequate place to “foreigners” so as not to leave them as extraneous in either the planning or action phases. The suggested activities are devised in collaboration with various institutions, authorities, associations, and religious communities in order to enhance the sharing, to enable transversal readings with light alternative points of view, and assure both correct access to the information means and the inclusion in the organising process.

The Festival is engaged in a “cultural front” which has become by now both collective and media property.  However, it wishes to capture also the attention of  the “unenthusiastic” ones, in other words, of those who take the time but do not participate in an active way in the debate. Those participants may prefer not to assume a personal position on these urgent themes which both concern the entire community and radically determine our future.

In spite of the intention to help the cultural debate, the Festival lies outside the political arena, not because of disregard (in its etymological meaning) nor for mental reservation, but rather to foster both an attitude and the expression of those who are sincerely involved but do not intend to refer themselves to any political group or any factions, removed from electoral dynamics and easy exploitations.

The Festival pays a lot of attention to lexical and semantic common language education often used in a simplistic and superficial way by citizens,  public and private administrators, and journalists. Words that are not always only words but on the contrary are powerful instruments, occasions for misrepresent, potential conductors of disinformation, cultural stereotypes, match for conflicts deflagration. To this purpose the Festival wishes admonish the media present to be particularly careful as to language and content, and to reject the voice of dangerous intolerance.