Chief photographer with the Sydney Morning Herald’s Nick Moir’s ‘Run’ at the heart of the firestorm

Sydney Festival has unveiled its thought-provoking program of talks, panels and workshops, partnering with The Walkley Foundation, Sydney Writers Festival and UTS to present some of the country’s most celebrated and incisive journalists, writers and thinkers, adding to the already announced 2021 line-up of more than 140 events across three weeks from January 6 – 26.

A series of one-hour biographical portraits of Walkley Award-winning or recognised journalists, Walkleys Live: The Journalist Gene at the Town Hall will see each exploring the national and international context of their work, their influences and inspirations, and the professional drive, courage and values that sustain their reportage.

Recently announced 2020 Gold Walkley Award-winner Mark Willacy headlines the series discussing his unflinching Four Corners investigation “The Killing Field” which, along with his continued coverage, exposed shocking alleged war crimes and cover-ups within the ranks of SAS soldiers operating in Afghanistan, and triggered an investigation by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force.

In Triggered: Photojournalism in natural disasters Chief Photographer for the Sydney Morning Herald Nick Moir and Ilawarra Mercury photographer Sylvia Liber describe being trapped in firestorms and eucalyptus explosions and their middle-of-the-inferno coverage of the 2019-2020 summer bushfires.

Lorena Allam, leader of The Guardian investigation “The Killing Times”, will recount tracking the state-sanctioned massacres of Indigenous people across Australia alongside Laura Murphy-Oates, who hosted the of the podcast of the series, while other Walkleys Live speakers include Seven News senior reporter Chris Reason, whose hours-long coverage of the Lindt Café Seige won the Walkley for TV News Reporting; Patrick Abboud, creator of the true-crime podcast The Greatest Menace” which tells the story of Australia’s gay prison in Cooma; Sydney Morning Herald investigative journalist Kate McClymont , a seven-time Walkley Award-winner whose name strikes fear into the heart of politicians, criminals and anyone who’s dabbled in corruption; and Mahmood Fazal, whose podcast “No Gangsters in Paradise” took a deep look into the early 2000s Western Sydney gang war that fuelled the media stereotype of “Middle Eastern gang violence”.

At Carriageworks, Sydney Writers Festival presents Something to Talk About: a series of smart, entertaining public conversations from the country’s preeminent literary institution.

For Recommended Reading Sydney Writers’ Festival’s own Artistic Director, Michael Williams, assembles an Ocean’s 11 of friends for an all-star book club, putting together an essential book list for the start of 2021, with guests including Jennifer Byrne, Michael Mohammed Ahmed and Benjamin Law.

Our Home, Our Heartbeat is a First Nations storytelling event for the whole family, where rapper, actor and children’s book author Briggs will be joined by fellow Indigenous picture book authors – including the incomparable Archie Roach – in a joyful celebration of the oldest continuing culture in the world.

An Educated Guess: Predictions, Prescriptions & Wild Hopes for the Year Ahead will team together RN’s Health Report and Coronacast host Norman Swan, acclaimed Indigenous author Gayle Kennedy, multi-Walkley-winning investigative journalist Kate McClymont and a panel of special guests to read the tea leaves, take some temperatures and share with us their account of things to come.

The UTS Big Thinking Forums return for a sixth year, bringing together leading academics and Festival artists to explore the pressing issues of our time – from climate change to the pandemic and impacts of isolation.

Yorta Yorta/Gunaikurnai theatremaker Andrea James (Sunshine Super Girl, Sydney Festival 2021) will lead a discussion about how we remember, how we commemorate and why we build monuments in a post-truth world at Memory, Memorials and Truth. At The Art of Nature soprano Jane Sheldon and artist Janet Lawrence will ask “can our artists shape the way we think about the environment?”, and Darcy Grant, creative lead for Australian circus company Gravity & Other Myths, and the Sydney Festival’s own Wesley Enoch take stock of how the pandemic has changed our lives for Impacts of Isolation.

And this year the UTS Open Big Thinking Workshops will provide the opportunity to kickstart 2021 by learning new skills in just a few hours alongside industry experts.

Workshops include courses on boosting creativity, problem-solving and innovation using the universal language of LEGO with a certified LEGO Serious Play facilitator; how to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world following a year of intense disruption; how to make sense of 24-hour news cycle; and how to transform a changing world by embarking on your own journey as an entrepreneur and demystify the challenges of technology-enabled entrepreneurship.