Mérida, 20th March 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s 8th Annual International Book Fair (Filven) closed on Sunday with record attendance, up over 20% from 2011. Between 9 and 18 March over 235,000 visitors attended the open cultural event, compared with 180,000 last year.
Venezuelan Culture Minister Pedro Calzadilla stated on Sunday that Filven is a representation of the transformation of consciousness among the Venezuelan people.
“In the revolution of consciousness, we’ve advanced enormously, we’ve broken with exclusion. Every day there are more books, more editors, more book fairs and more readers. It’s a cultural achievement of the Venezuelan people boosted by the Bolivarian Revolution,” he said.
Filven 2012 brought together 254 national and international publishers in 166 stalls based in the National Experimental University of the Arts and the Teresa Carreño Theatre Cultural Complex in the capital Caracas.
The invited country of honour was Uruguay, while the festival paid homage to Venezuelan writer Luis Britto Garcia.
The book platform for the Culture Ministry reported 74,144 books sold during the fair. The most sought-after titles were “Humour is Paid with Humour,” a collaboration between eleven Venezuelan authors, “Indigenous Medicines” by Geronimo Pompa, and “Bolivar, Action and Utopia: The Man of Difficulties” by Miguel Acosta Saignes.
The President of the Venezuelan National Book Centre, Christhian Valles, said that all expectations for this year’s festival were exceeded. “We didn’t just grow statistically. If we only concentrated on statistics we would be making a mistake. What differentiates Filven from commercial events is the happiness people have had and how they make the space their own,” she continued.
The Children’s Pavilion was reported to be a particularly successful innovation this year. Over 16,000 children visited the great dome and were able to enjoy reading, cinematic projections and educational games. In the Comic Room, youths were able to try their hand at trivia, workshops and karaoke competitions.
Meanwhile, the fair also displayed theatre and dance events, including “Pretty Little Doll”, a theatrical work written by Luis Britto Garcia.
On the final day of events, over 1,000 free copies of Fidel Castro’s “Through all Paths of the Sierra: The Strategic Victory” were distributed. Prizes for prose and poetry were awarded, and special illustrated editions of works on important figures of Venezuela’s history, including independence hero Simon Bolivar, were exhibited.
Filven 2012 ended with an evening concert in which invited speakers and members of the public read out poems by celebrated Uruguayan writer and poet Mario Benedetti (1920 – 2009), before enjoying a night of salsa with the Street Ensemble Group.
Although it has ended in Caracas, the fair will visit cities around the country in April.
Originally organised as the Caracas Book Fair, Filven was launched in 2005, when the Venezuelan government’s Mission Robinson literacy program taught 1,400,000 people to read and the country was designated a “Territory Free of Illiteracy” on 28 October of that year.