Liberatum brings Pharrell Williams and Mike Figgis to Hong Kong

Liberatum brings Pharrell Williams and Mike Figgis to Hong Kong

The international cultural icons share the same billing as Hong Kong's own talents Khalil Fong and Wing Shya

liberatum pharrell williamsPharrell Williams will speak on music and design with Khalil Fong.International culture conference, Liberatum, is coming to Hong Kong for the first time on April 27-29.

It will bring together an eclectic mix of cultural powerhouses, from V.S Naipaul to Pharrell Williams to Mike Figgis (best known for writing and directing "Leaving Las Vegas") and Hong Kong's own Wing Shya and Khalil Fong.

The celebrity brains will gather for a three-day powwow to present and talk about their own projects to the public as well as exchange ideas amongst themselves.

Liberatum is a multidisciplinary festival founded by Pablo Ganguli in London 11 years ago. It has since taken place in several countries, including Russia, India, Morocco, Papua New Guinea and Turkey.

It claims to be a humanitarian effort of "international cultural diplomacy" as well as a celebration of "art, design, fashion, literature, film, music and ideas." Basically an excuse to bring together some of the most glamorous thinkers of our time in different parts of the world.

Pianist, performance artist and composer Rosey Chan is the creative director of Liberatum Hong Kong, whose full line-up also includes rapper M.I.A, screenwriter Paul Schrader, Marianne Faithfull, Wing Shya and the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble among others. 

Readings, performances, exhibitions and talks and other artistic offerings will be free and open to the public at venues which are yet to be announced.  

The festival's goals for Hong Kong are ambitious, with the directors insisting that it will put the city on the global cultural map, thus addressing the persistent concerns about Hong Kong's lack of artistic clout.

An event as creative, intelligent and varied as Liberatum is a rare treat for Hong Kong. What is less clear is how its impressive list of participants from all over the world will achieve the intended celebration of contemporary local culture when a minority of the current line-up live or have lived in Hong Kong. 

Liberatum deserves a place on our calendars this year, not least as a reminder that cultural status is critical to the global standing of a city, that this must come from the city's roots and that Hong Kong's best creative minds must have more incentive to stay.

See a full tentative program for Liberatum Hong Kong 2012 at

Samantha Leese is a Hong Kong based writer and editor, focusing on travel, arts and culture. Her articles have been published internationally by titles such as Condé Nast Traveller, The Spectator, Artforum and Time.

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