A stroll around the irregular cobbled streets of the historical center of Paraty, the small coastal town 248 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro, gives the sensation of peering into Brazil’s colonial past. With no cars allowed, tourists are left to wander freely around the quaint stores and restaurants set up inside baroque 18th-century houses, while listening to the birdsong and the clip-clopping of the working horses pulling carts around town.

From the sea, the white buildings adorned with colorful doors and windows are just a tiny reminder of human life, alongside the boats coming and going from the busy marina—all of them belittled by the bright blue sky and the massive green mountains that shelter this unique way of life.

</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In a town that holds archaic </span><a href="http://www.paraty.com.br/noticiasparaty.asp?id=6713"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Portuguese in its very name</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, time seems to pass as sluggish as the hot humid air. In a place where everything has changed, yet somehow remains the same, one wonders about how many stories unfolded below these flowery balconies. Seventeen years ago, British publisher Liz Calder—one of the founders of Bloomsbury—realized that all this room for imagination would make a great site for a festival celebrating the art of telling stories. Her thoughts found fertile ground in a group of Brazilian publishers, such as Companhia das Letras’ Luiz Schwarcz. Add some spare profits from the recently launched Harry Potter franchise to the mix and they had the foundations of one of Brazil’s </span><a href="https://brazilian.report/society/2019/02/10/revival-cordel-literature/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">most important literary events</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">: Flip—the International Literary Festival of Paraty. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While there are other festivals around the world similar to Flip—such as the Hay Festival in Wales, which inspired the event in Paraty—the fact is that Flip is not only unique due to its carefully crafted schedule, or the renowned authors that it attracts. Flip is about the city of Paraty, its people, and their stories. As Mauro Munhoz, </span><a href="https://restauhangscasaazul.blob.core.windows.net/flip/files/event-media/20461278575-livro%2010%20anos.pdf"><span style="font-weight: 400;">president of Flip&#8217;s organizing association Casa Azul, wrote</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">: “A festival like Flip could only be successful in a place like this, a place which exudes an atmosphere of intense cultural effervescence and creative freedom.”</span></p> <div id="attachment_20267" style="width: 1010px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-20267" class="size-full wp-image-20267" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_1171106524.jpg" alt="Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - July 29, 2018 - Santa Cecilia Musical Society on the streets of Paraty during FLIP - International Literary Festival in Paraty." width="1000" height="667" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_1171106524.jpg 1000w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_1171106524-300x200.jpg 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_1171106524-768x512.jpg 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_1171106524-610x407.jpg 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px" /><p id="caption-attachment-20267" class="wp-caption-text">Santa Cecilia Musical Society on the streets of Paraty during FLIP &#8211; the International Literary Festival in Paraty.</p></div> <h2>The village where time stood still</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">To understand the festival, first, you have to understand the city. Founded in 1667, Paraty used to bear an economic importance far larger than its size. </span><a href="https://brazilian.report/guide-to-brazil/2017/09/25/colonial-brazil/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">In colonial times</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, the area had many sugar plantations, which produced cachaça, Brazil&#8217;s national spirit. Most importantly, however, it was through Paraty that Brazilian gold mined in Minas Gerais reached the sea.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">From Paraty, the gold and precious stones traveled by sea to Rio de Janeiro, and then on to Portugal. When the Estrada Real—the &#8220;Royal Road&#8221; connecting Ouro Preto in Minas Gerais to the coast at Paraty— extended to Rio de Janeiro itself, Paraty lost its major economic drive, which would only be replaced in the 20th century. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the 1970s, the famous Rio-Santos road was built, making it easier to reach Paraty from Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo. The isolation turned out to be Paraty’s blessing: home to a unique cultural heritage, alongside historical venues and breathtakingly beautiful nature, Paraty rose as an important tourist center, recently recognized by Unesco as Brazil’s first Mixed Heritage Site, alongside the neighboring island of Ilha Grande.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But urbanization never comes alone. Paraty’s population started to increase with little infrastructure or urban planning, like most Brazilian country towns. The beautiful downtown area remained preserved, but as a result of increased property prices, many homes were sold to become commercial establishments: the stores, cafes, restaurants and art galleries that now make the city’s fame. Outside those effortlessly idyllic streets, there are blatant signs of poverty and drug trafficking. </span></p> <h2>A not-so-bucolic festival for an idyllic town</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Flip is an urban project that takes care of the social and physical structure of a small old town that is involved in a diverse, but fragile, ecosystem. An urban transformation that is simultaneously delicate and powerful enough to respond to the urgency of our times. Flip is essentially a respectful effort to update Paraty,” wrote architect Francesco Perrotta-Bosch in his essay, “As Passadas.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The event started as something approaching a gathering of friends, with more support than actual sponsorship, recalls Brazilian journalist and writer Zuenir Ventura, in a profile published in the occasion of Flip’s 10th Anniversary. The first edition came up as a four-day festival at the Casa Azul, a historical property with room for about 200 people that Ms. Calder and Mr. Schwarcz borrowed from Fundação Roberto Marinho. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But the gathering of some of the leading names of the Brazilian intelligentsia—such as then cabinet minister Gilberto Gil and his fellow Tropicalia partner Caetano Veloso, writer Milton Hatoum, singer and writer Chico Buarque, and writers Millôr Fernandes, Luis Fernando Verissimo, and Ferreira Gulla, alongside international icons such as historian Eric Hobsbawm and writer Julian Barnes, called the public and Brazilian media heavyweight’s attention.</span></p> <div id="attachment_20269" style="width: 1010px" class="wp-caption alignnone"><img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-20269" class="size-full wp-image-20269" src="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_1166961037.jpg" alt="Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - July 27, 2018 - FLIP - International Literary Festival of Paraty" width="1000" height="667" srcset="https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_1166961037.jpg 1000w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_1166961037-300x200.jpg 300w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_1166961037-768x512.jpg 768w, https://brazilian.report/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/shutterstock_1166961037-610x407.jpg 610w" sizes="(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px" /><p id="caption-attachment-20269" class="wp-caption-text">July 27, 2018 &#8211; FLIP &#8211; International Literary Festival of Paraty</p></div> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“These names sparked huge interest, it was a frenzy. We soon realized we were not gathering just some hundreds, but thousands of people. In the end, 6,000 showed up,” said Ms. Calder, in </span><a href="https://www.bbc.com/portuguese/noticias/2012/05/120517_flip_calder_jc.shtml"><span style="font-weight: 400;">an interview with the BBC</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;"> in 2012. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The larger audience did not affect the community feel of the event, however. Fans were seen talking to their idols in streets and bars or sharing breakfast at hotels—an informal environment that perfectly fits the vibe of the first author to be honored: poet and musician Vinicius de Moraes. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Flip was born on the edge: provincial, but global; unlikely, but possible.   </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The success was so astonishing that, for 2004, it left the Casa Azul to move to two large tents in the city, enough to fit the public and the 38 invited authors—almost twice the amount of speakers as the first edition. Since then, Flip has become one with the town. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Besides the debate sessions, Flip developed a children’s session (Flipinha), a parallel festival for independent publishers (Flipei), bookstores, movie screenings, artistic performances, yoga sessions, and even a regatta that attracted 26,400 people last year. For 2019, they will launch </span><a href="https://www.flip.org.br/noticia/flip-anuncia-novo-projeto-de-artes-visuais-terra-nova/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Terra Nova</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, a project focused on visual arts, and it will have the largest number of partner establishments ever. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">For this year’s edition, Flip will honor Brazilian writer Euclides da Cunha. His </span><a href="https://brazilian.report/guide-to-brazil/2019/04/23/14-must-reads-brazilian-literature/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">most famous work</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Os Sertões”</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">, is based on a series of reports he wrote for newspaper </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">O Estado de S. Paulo</span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;"> about the army’s massacre of a social, political and religious-based uprising in Canudos, a village in the arid countryside of Bahia, almost 130 years ago. The outcomes of the bloodshed are also seen by many as the starting point of Brazil&#8217;s favelas. Considered a pivotal work for Brazilian journalism and literature, </span><i><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Os Sertões” </span></i><span style="font-weight: 400;">is deeply connected to the people and the land—just like Flip itself.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Flip 2019’s schedule was drafted to reassess themes of Euclides&#8217; work and, in many cases, update them. We cannot ignore, for instance, his prejudice towards ethnicity. During this edition, we gathered our guests in a broad debate, offering perspectives to current and former issues in fiction and nonfiction literature, in poetry, and other kinds of art,” said Fernanda Diamant, Flip 2019’s curator, </span><a href="https://www.flip.org.br/programa-principal/"><span style="font-weight: 400;">on the event’s website.</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">  </span></p> <h2>A win-win partnership</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Flip’s cultural importance cannot be overstated, but a project this big has major impacts on the lives of Paraty’s citizens and is unlikely to have ever gotten off the ground without the population’s involvement and support. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">One of the most meaningful effects of Flip is the economic boost. According to a Fundação Getúlio Vargas report, last year, tourism related to Flip generated BRL 46.9 million for Paraty—BRL 6.4 million of which was directly related to the event’s operational expenditures. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Considering that it happens in the middle of Brazilian winter, the off-season for coastal cities, it has an even bigger impact on the lodging industry. The report shows that, during Flip, hotel occupancy rates peaked to 92 percent of Paraty’s 12,670 beds last year; 88 percent of the tourists said they would like to visit the town again, while 94 percent would come back for Flip. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“For Paraty, Flip is like Carnival or New Year’s Eve. Without it, I believe the occupancy rates would be around 60 or 70 percent in the winter. (&#8230;) We try to support it as much as we can. I, for instance, manage [local B&amp;B] Pousada do Príncipe and I offer two rooms to Flip’s staff every year,” said Georgia Joufflineau, a local hotel manager and director of Paraty’s Convention &amp; Visitors Bureau. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As a citizen, she reckons that oversizing is not ideal. She remembers that Flip peaked during its 9th to 12th editions, with more sponsors and parallel events in such a way that may have been “too much” </span><a href="https://cidades.ibge.gov.br/brasil/rj/paraty/panorama"><span style="font-weight: 400;">for a city of 42,600 inhabitants</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. However, after the 2015–2016 recession, it downsized a bit. “I think the organizers reckoned that as well, the main event has scaled down,” she says. Flip and Paraty work better as a team, after all. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">But, even on its 17th edition, Ms. Joufflineau remains excited about it. “The city looks beautiful during Flip. I have kids and they always make Flip-related activities at school, they present them at the festival. Even people who did not have a close relationship with literature started to pay attention to it. I think that every citizen of Paraty has adopted this idea.”

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SocietyJul 06, 2019

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BY Natália Tomé Scalzaretto

Natália Scalzaretto has worked for companies such as Santander Brasil and Reuters, where she covered news ranging from commodities to technology. Most recently, worked as an Editor for Trading News, the information division from TradersClub investor community.