Dubai Literature Festival
Review of the Dubai Literature Festival
Venue: Festival Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Topic: Page to Screen to Page
Panel: Deborah Moggach, Ian Rankin, Lynda La Plante and Alan Dean Foster
After finishing a great novel, how many of us have rushed to the cinema in gleeful anticipation after learning our favourite novel had been turned into a movie – only to discover it had lost those very elements that had previously kept us turning the pages.
The problem was certainly not lost on Ian Rankin who said that he’d never adapted his books into screenplays because of the inevitable loss to the integrity of his book through condensing 400 pages of a novel into 45-minute slots for TV. Remarkably, as a consequence, he has never watched a single TV dramatization of his work, preferring his characters to remain in his own imagination. He said that if he saw which actors had been caste he may not be able to visually disassociate them from the characters in his novels.
Deborah Moggach spoke of her reluctance to adapt novels into screenplays unless sufficient time was allocated, citing a previous example whereby she was asked to adapt a novel for TV in just three weeks. Alan Dean Foster, whom successfully created novelizations of Star Wars and the Alien series, highlighted the benefits of the lack of budgetary restrictions when adapting from screen to book. He stated the writer has an infinite number of props at their disposal and more freedom to build up the character and their back-stories. Lynda La Plante highlighted restraints in budget as being the single, most important difference between writing novels and screenplays.
This panel discussion involving such respected industry voices speaking frankly about life behind the scenes was very informative and revealing – a rare jewel.
Topic: Stranger Than Fiction
Jeffrey Archer In Conversation with Anthony Horowitz
Like him or loathe him, you can never ignore Jeffrey Archer. Stranger Than Fiction (or, more appropriately, The Jeffrey Archer Show) focused on the achievements of the former MP, Deputy Chairman of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party and multi-million best-selling author.
There is no denying Jeffrey Archer is an accomplished raconteur and storyteller. Indeed, so absorbed was he with himself that Anthony Horowitz could only sit back in his presenter’s chair while Mr Archer plied the audience with a seemingly endless array of stories and anecdotes. Now in his early 70s, Mr Archer shows no sign of slowing down with a myriad books, short stories and plays to his name as well as being a critic, charity fund-raiser and art collector.
Mr Horowitz skillfully kept clear of mentioning the controversies that have plagued Mr Archer for much of his professional working life, save for a passing reference to the Prison Diaries written during his time in HMP Belmarsh, Wayland and North Sea Camp. His popularity does not appear to have suffered with the demand for tickets having necessitated a last-minute change of venue to accommodate the larger-than-anticipated audience.
I confess to having entered this event with more than a little trepidation considering the litigative baggage associated with Mr Archer. However, when faced with the empty space on the stage where the man Archer until so recently stood, I found myself unable to dismiss the nagging feeling that I had actually just been thoroughly entertained – but don’t tell anyone!
Topic: The Happiness Panel
Panel: Dr Steve Peters, Giles Andreae, Debi Gliori, Ben Miller
The opening paragraph of the program notes read ‘is there a formula for achieving happiness, what does it mean and is it the same as success’?
This much-debated and highly complex subject was discussed by the panel whom used their own varied personal and professional experiences to explain what they considered constitutes happiness. Giles Andreae and Debi Gliori made the point that you can’t necessarily know the true meaning of happiness until you’ve experienced it’s polarized extreme of depression – an illness they both candidly admitted to having experienced in recent years.
Consultant Psychiatrist Dr Steve Peters mentioned the importance of the individual being happy with who they were within themselves and that success and achievements are temporary and not the recipe for long-term happiness. Comedian Ben Miller brought laughter from the audience and fellow panelists when he revealed how they would ask technicians to switch off heaters and turn up the air conditioning during filming of Armstrong and Miller in front of a live studio audience to encourage them to applause in order to keep warm.
However, regrettably, I left this discussion feeling slightly underwhelmed. I suspect my reservations may have been shared by a member of the audience whose excellent choice of question went largely unanswered when she asked ‘how she can reconcile her own inner happiness with the distressing events currently happening around the world’. The failure of the panel to offer any new insight into the real meaning of happiness represented a missed opportunity to open a new dialogue on a state of mind sought by many.