The Festival of the Mind returns to Sarzana, a hotbed of creativity and ideas

The idea, however, was not that of a celebration: the intention was to slice creativity, see what it was made of, beyond fashions and the indeterminacy of the term. Oliviero Toscani, who was a guest of the first editions, gave perhaps the most creative and most effective definition of it. He sounded like this: creativity is a fart, you realize the effect only later.
It was irreverent and relentlessly true.

Creativity had to be dissected, but also shown, and for this reason most of the shows of the first editions were done ad hoc for the festivaland sometimes they were pretty difficult things, as was the work in progress for an opera, based on Aldo Moro’s letters from imprisonment, an idea by Carlo Boccadoro, Angelo Miotto and Filippo del Corno, who would become Milan’s councilor for culture many years later. We experimented with many new formats with characters absolutely unknown to the general public: it meant taking good risks for an initiative that was just starting, but “creativity “always means taking risks, it means working on stylistic elements and not on stylismsas he taught me Fabrizio Confalonieri, who invented the logo and a clean and elegant graphics for the festival, which remained almost the same after twenty years, a sign that still speaks, a creative act and not a parody.

There were lectures, but sometimes a lesson is not enough, the synthesis does not reward and for this reason we tried to make disclosure that was not in pills: with Piergiorgio Odifreddi in the late evening we organized a trio of lessons in the stands of the Sarzana fortress, one for each evening, which recounted the creative life of great scientists, from Galileo to Einstein. We were expecting only a handful of diehards and we filled up: the audience stayed until midnight. He also followed us when the bar was raised with workshops: limited number classes, calepino for taking notes, lessons that lasted hours, that welcomed the questions and that went on as long as needed.. Until they were all tired and satisfied. There were events for children, but we wanted to tease them, not put them in a kind of kinderheim: with the robotics center in Genoa we tried to explain to the children the surprises of real robotics, not of UFO-robots. There were canonical meetings and there were events in which it was not known what would happen. In everything, a share of beauty, adventure and curiosity was sought.

We asked for a commitment from our guests, speakers and above all the public, this was the deal. We have not always succeeded well, but the public doubled with each edition, and forgave us the organizational flaws. I do not know why in the fifth year it was decided to make the festival more “popular”, turning towards psychology and abandoning experiments in favor of established names on the media spotlight. The awnings grew enormously, but the large audiences, of course, cannot by their nature be the place of attention, which tends to vanish; curiosity is relaxed, the public becomes the counter of success and ambitions, especially dear to public and private sponsors.
Then the festival took another path under the helm of Benedetta Marietti, who still pilots it with confidence. Of course: festivals are good, they speak to people in a way that neither television nor the internet should be able to do, because the specific dimension of festivals should be the staging, the direction, the live show of ideas.

Even if there are never too many festivals, even if there are hundreds in Italy and throughout Europe, perhaps for this reason they all look a bit alike. And for this very reason I would be pleased if the Festival della Mente thought about its original dimension, not to propose it again but to overcome it, to evolve creatively, to rediscover that pact with the public, or to create a new one.

The Festival of the Mind returns to Sarzana, a hotbed of creativity and ideas