KIKINDA SHORT - short story festival

KIKINDA SHORT is a short story festival which takes place in the northernmost part of Serbia, in the town of Kikinda. The town is only several miles away from Hungary and Romania and the organiser wanted to take advantage of the unique geographic position which bridges the southeastern and middle Europe.

The festival's main goals are: 1) meeting and connecting of the young authors of middle and southeastern Europe with editors, publishers and interpreters of the region, as well with participants from around the globe by which the festival gains in its variety; 2) affirmation of the short story as a neglected literary genre; 3) popularisation of reading, mainly among secondary school students; 4) affirmation of tolerance and cultural differences.

Since 2006 four festivals have been organised with the participation of more than 90 guests from 12 countries (Austria, Bosnia and Hertzegovina, Bulgaria, The United Kingdom, Hungary, Macedonia, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia). Some of them were: Rodge Glass, the winner of Somerset Maugham award, Claire Wigfall, the winner of the BBC short story award, Xaver Bayer, the winner of Hermann-Lenz-Preis award.
In its concept, the festival is aimed at the authors below the age of 35 and they make the majority of the participants. Bearing in mind that the literature is a matter of continuity, there were some authors older than 35 as well. Along the autors, publishers and editors of the literary magazines from the region were invited to the festival, too. As a result of the meeting and connecting of the participants of the festival, their stories were published in numerous magazines in the region (Altera, Bulgaria; Fosszília, Symposion, Hungary; Naše pismo, Razgledi, Macedonia; Zarez, Quorum, Croatia, Povelja, Koraci, Ulaznica, Serbia). The festival also is a chance for young interpreters and twenty some of them is included in the project. At the festival's margins, the interpreters have an opportunity to meet and consult with the authors about the texts they have worked on. After every festival, all participants' stories are collected and published in a book which is distributed in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia and Hertzegovina. Four books have been published so far out of which the first one has been printed in four languages (Hungarian, Macedonian, Slovakian and Serbian).

The media covering is a very important element of the festival. Googling Kikinda Short page shows over 10.000 results, the media sponsor is a respectable Belgrade weekly magazine „Vreme“, the reports from the festival are broadcast on prominent TV stations, daily magazines with the highest circulation have reports on Kikinda Short, after the fourth festival a documentary has been filmed which, through the exchange with TV VK from Kikinda, has been broadcast on numerous local TV stations in Serbia. In the last week of June, short story is the main subject in culture sections in Serbia.

Inviting twenty some young authors from several countries, the festival atmosphere, dynamic programme, as well as accompanying activities like workshops, multimedia presentations and concerts, stirr up the interest of vast audience and media for the short prose genre. It is especially interesting to the secondary school students. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs from 2007 only 11.24 % Serbia citizens possess a passport due to a long-term isolation. Bringing so many foreign citizens in a small town like Kikinda instigates a great interest with the youth so for there are three times more secondary school students applying for the volunteers than needed.

The fifth Kikinda Short will take place from 29th June to 4th Jule 2010.

Every time there is a talk about short story as a genre it’s hardly possible not to mention its relation with novel, where that relation, in short, can be reduced to the constatation that short story is unjustly put aside and undeservedly underestimated. We can see this is true when we put the things vice-versa – in the studies on the characteristics of the novel as a genre the short story is hardly ever mentioned. Those who study the genre/genres often show their surprise due to this relation, basing it mostly on the social element and reception, that is to say on the assumption that the shortness of the story is mostly responsive to the rhythm of life nowadays, and therefore, the situation should be like this: when it comes to being read, it should be quite opposite to what the things stand, and people should bring more often a short story selection than a novel to the cash register in a bookshop. However, it’s highly likely that the reason of disregarding the short form lies in what is considered to be its advantage. In short, the speed of the enter and the even faster exit strategy disables it to compete with the other aspects of art/fun that find their purpose in offering the consumers the possibility of escaping from reality. The magic of short story is not what people search nowadays, it will not save you from the dullness of everyday life nor does it have enough room to lull you with the pictures of the worlds that are happier and more beautiful that the one you are in. That’s what makes the audience concentrated towards this form special - they don’t see the time spent with the book as another way of merely spending it but as a possibility of looking at reality from an unusual and quite a different angle, or of catching in just a minute something that is there in the air but can materialize and become touchable and solid only with a skillful writer. In short, it’s actually for such an audience that we started the short story festival.