Ian McEwan was the high-standing guest of the fourth edition of the International Book&Movie festival CineLibri. Being one of the emblematic figures of postmodern British literature, perfect screenwriter, humanist and critical thinking adherent, McEwan was invited to open the festival with the literary adaptation of “On Chesil Beach” (2017), one of the most impatiently awaited screen versions of work of fiction ever created.
The spectacular event took place on October 10 in Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture in the presence of Ian McEwan, author of the novel and screenwriter of its movie interpretation. He was awarded the CineLibri prize for entire contribution to the art of literary adaptation into the language of cinema. McEwan, who is an adorable stylist and shrewd explorer of the human psyche, feelingly expressed his gratitude for the distinction: “I assure you that this is a really interesting festival for me – it’s not like any other festival I’ve ever attended. And I have attended many.”
In 2008, The Times featured McEwan on their list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945” and The Daily Telegraph ranked him number 19 in their list of the “100 most powerful people in British culture”. His works have earned him worldwide critical acclaim. He won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1976 for his first collection of short stories First Love, Last Rites; the Whitbread Novel Award (1987) and the Prix Fémina Etranger (1993) for The Child in Time; and Germany’s Shakespeare Prize in 1999. He has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction numerous times, winning the award for Amsterdam in 1998. In 2006, Ian McEwan won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel Saturday while the novel On Chesil Beach was named Galaxy Book of the Year at the 2008 British Book Awards where McEwan was also named Reader’s Digest Author of the Year.
The opening ceremony of CineLibri 2018 was a gorgeous event, accompanied by impressive visual performance with exquisite choreography and video mapping. After the spectacle, which was attended by many official guests, as well as prominent Bulgarian and European filmmakers, the newest film adaptation based on McEwan’s work was screened. “On Chesil Beach” features the Irish actress Saoirse Ronan (“Atonement”) and Billy Howle (“Dunkirk”) who embody the two lovers of different social background. Florance (Ronan) is a top-class violinist who falls in love with the poor student Eddie (Billy Howle) – and they get married. The story traces back their honeymoon on Chesil Beach. The exceptional psychological finesse, with which Ian McEwan’s novel portrays the inner trepidation and embarrassment of the couple about sex and intimacy, has been rendered on the screen brilliantly. The film is directed by Dominic Cooke who is famous for his theatre projects, and the rest of the roles are entrusted to: Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff and Samuel West.
Aside from CineLibri award, the author of “Atonement” and “The Child in Time” was awarded the title Doctor Honoris Causa of Sofia University. McEwan delivered an academic speech on “Freedom of Expression”:
Organizations which disseminate false news, want to make us believe that nothing is true, that we can trust nobody, and thus they promulgate demagoguery, cynicism and nihilism. I will allow myself to refer to a quote by Voltaire: I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
McEwan emphasized on the fact, that he had devoted his life to the novel as a way to explore people and their relationships: “It was a privilege for me, to devote my life to the novel as a literary form. And it is a great honor for me to receive the title from Sofia University.” The proposal for awarding the honorary title of the oldest and most prestigious university in Bulgaria came from the Faculty of Classical and Modern Languages and the Department of Slavic Studies.
The fourth edition of the unique book&movie festival took place from October 10th to 24th and offered the audience over 300 screenings, more than 40 new adaptations, many special guests, events and emotions. This year the festival payed special attention to love in all its forms and dimensions and was held under the motto “Love between the Rows”.