October 12-13, 2018
Radisson Blu, Bucharest
Oct 12-13, 2018 Registration


NOTE: The schedule is subject to change. Participants will be notified in advance.

IMPORTANT: This year, the Conference is part of a weeklong Festival of events. You can book a spot for either – the Festival pass includes access to all events, including the Conference.

This year, we get Closer. Closer to difficult stories, and, hopefully, closer to each other. During the events of the whole week our incredible speakers will tackle the troubling realities of our age – uncertainty, fear, inequality, misinformation –, and look at how stories can explain them, put them in context, while also giving a voice to those that have not been heard.

You will see this theme reflected both in the keynotes, and in the other festival moments, as well as outside the conference hall, in adjacent rooms where we’ll have more activities for you.



Registration & Welcome coffee



Sarah Stillman

Narrative and Empathy. How can we use stories to bring experiences to people, especially experiences we don’t see because we have not trained our eyes to notice? Who is left out of the stories we tell? Who is left of our collective ark and how can we get them back on? What tools and methods do we use to bridge the empathy gap? And why is it all worth doing?

Finbarr O’Reilly

Journalists in combat zones. With a presentation of combat photography from Afghanistan, author and photographer Finbarr O'Reilly will reveal how he forged an unlikely bond with a U.S. Marine he met in there and how the pair went on to collaborate on a book, Shooting Ghosts, a soul-searching narrative journey about the things they saw and did during a decade of being in conflict zones, the ways they have been affected, and how they have navigated the psychological aftershocks of war and wrestled with reforming their own identities and moral centers. While war never really ends for those who have lived through it, Finbarr's talk charts the ways two survivors have found to calm the ghosts and reclaim a measure of peace.

Mindy Fullilove

Storying Orange to Bring Communities Together. Orange, NJ is a predominantly black city that struggles in the aftermath of segregation, deindustrialization, highway construction, and now gentrification. Its many sub-communities – from Africa, the Caribbean, and Central/South America – are disconnected by language and heritage, and often know little of the city’s 200-year history. In order to build connection, the University of Orange, a free people’s urbanism university, launched a project called Hidden Treasures of Orange. This project is collecting stories in many media, and bringing them together on a website. Telling the story of Orange has helped people have a different, more accurate and more loving perception of the city. It has inspired young people to become civically-engaged, fighting to protect and preserve Orange as a home for poor and working people from around the world. This presentation will describe the development of the website and our assessment of its impact.

Nikole Hannah Jones

Using Narrative to Make Us See the Invisible. Through her own personal narrative as a black child bussed to heavily white schools as part of a desegregation order, combined with more than a decade of reporting on school segregation and educational inequality across the country, Nikole Hannah-Jones will discuss why we must tell the deeply entrenched stories about issues that everyone has given up on. She will also talk about how to combine kickass reporting with personal narrative to make people see what they would rather not.


Story Time

Lunch break, book signings, networking etc.



Valeriu Nicolae

The odd foreigner. The customs officers ask me what I'll do in Switzerland. They look ridiculously serious, therefore my intention to answer that I came to revolutionize the cuckoo clock is vetoed down by my logical brain. I tell them that I will do nothing in Switzerland besides accepting their very kind invitation to show me their brilliantly furnished office. I am in transit for the next 30 meters until I get to France. "What will you do in France?", "I work for the Council of Europe – as a senior manager." They look at me like they’re witnessing flocks of pigs flying by. And I realize that my residual image about myself in France – wearing an expensive suit, tie and shoes made to bring well-deserved divine punishment to wealthy bureaucrats – is false. I am wearing ghetto clothes and most probably the smell. This is the story of my schizophrenic life and how I never ceased to be an odd foreigner.

Pat Walters

If I Had To, I'd Go Blind: The Powers Of Audio. There's this thought-experiment question I remember being asked as a kid: if you had to give up your sight or your hearing, which would you choose? I remember thinking: How about neither? How about a different question? Like would you rather be able to fly or be invisible? Anyway, point is: I never knew how to answer it. And then, in my mid-20s, I stumbled into a radio assignment, and I learned this incredible thing, this special power audio has: by eliminating one sense, it amplifies the others. Instead of distancing you from a story, this partial elimination can actually draw you in even closer. Audio has other special powers, too, and in this session, I'll explain a few of them, and play clips from the stories I love the most.

Jenna Pirog

The Storytelling Wormhole. The New York Times launched its virtual reality experiment in 2015 and ever since, I have tried to forget everything I know about storytelling. Cinematic language is meant to be viewed on a screen. And these techniques are unsettling and frustrating in a VR headset. In VR, we know that people want to use their instincts to absorb the scenes, they want to focus on the details that illuminate the story for them, and they want to make choices. So, every VR project at The Times starts with big statements: This one won't need a voice-over to deliver information! Swift cuts make people sick, tension is created when action happens right in front of you! Background music can't smooth transitions, in real life we don't hear music during an emotional moment! But, we usually end up right where we started, each project teaching us one lesson about what works and many lessons about what doesn't. I'll share some of these insights gained from squinting our eyes towards the future of storytelling in a post-screen world.


Coffee Break



Two Men Talking.

Co-created and performed by Murray Nossel, and Paul Browde. Johannesburg 1974: A teacher asks two rival schoolboys to tell each other a story. Decades later, they meet by chance in New York as Oscar-nominated filmmaker and psychiatrist and set out to transform the world through their real life storytelling. Conceived at the height of the AIDS epidemic in New York City, Two Men Talking is a globally acclaimed, unscripted live performance in which Murray Nossel and Paul Browde weave their life stories into a production that has captivated audiences around the world. Two Men Talking embodies the healing capacities of storytelling and open listening and demonstrates the power of acceptance - of self and other - in the face of a seemingly indifferent, sometimes hostile world.


Closing drinks at Radisson Blu



Story Time

Welcome lunch and coffee, networking etc.



Narativ (Paul Browde & Murray Nossel)

Why Tell? Why Now? How a friendship evolved into a storytelling methodology. From the moment we met as 12 year olds in Johannesburg, our relationship has been about listening and storytelling. 44 years later (we are now 56), having gone through many ups and downs together, we are still discovering who we are as individuals, friends and business partners by uncovering hidden stories.
Our friendship has become our research laboratory for developing methods for listening, storytelling and relating. The origins of Two Men Talking are an argument between Paul and Murray about who owns a story. Paul suggested that we present the argument for others. Beginning with an audience of six people at a conference in Montreal, we have gone on to perform for thousands of people across the world. Our stories have covered myriad topics. For instance, growing up as white, Jewish, gay boys under the apartheid regime, HIV/AIDS, and 9/11 in New York City. We have taught our methods in many countries, where it was used as an advocacy tool with marginalized and oppressed populations. We often have to pinch ourselves and ask: How did this all happen? How did this happen? Each time we perform we also ask ourselves: why tell this story and why tell it now? The Power of Storytelling will be no exception. We look forward to discovering what will be revealed when we are all together.

Vera Ion

Connecting the dots. This will be a journey through questions from someone who is trying to understand the mechanisms of human interaction, and how truthful storytelling can shape and redefine communities. Vera has been trying to figure out a puzzle that is far from being solved: how can people break the spell of mainstream generated narratives and connect through personal stories? How can we grow as a community and discover each other from a grassroots level?

Elie Gardner

When Does Close Become Too Close? I’ve always believed that sharing personal stories can transform lives. For more than a decade, this belief has driven me to document minority and underprivileged communities, focusing on issues such as immigration, education, and women’s rights from Latin America to the Middle East. But it wasn’t until I traveled with a group of Syrian refugees from Turkey to Norway that I became fully aware of how the stories I tell transform my life, too.


Coffee break



Jacqui Banaszynski

Objects in the mirror. Stories seem fleeting things, especially in times of conflict and despair. We are assaulted by 24/7 news, delivered with no pause and no filter. Much of the news is dark. It stokes our fears and tells us we are divided as never before. What good are a few words and images in the face of such uncertainty? But it is at times like these that stories matter more than ever. By tomorrow, today will be yesterday. And only the stories of yesterday can teach us how to find our way to a better tomorrow. An aging journalist reflects on the difficult times we find ourselves in and the center she clings to: Stories may be fleeting, but story is eternal. And it reminds us that history and humanity are closer than they appear.

Tom French

The Engine of All Stories. All human beings require water, food, shelter and companionship. But what we often don't talk about is the elemental need to know what happens next. This curiosity gets us out of bed in the morning and propels us through the black velvet expanses of our nights. We are compelled to learn the endings of the stories that constantly unfold inside us and around us – in the joys and sorrows of our own lives, in the never-ending tumult of the news, the streams of fiction and nonfiction flowing from books, magazines, songs, movies, TV and the vastness of the Internet. We long to know how all of it will turn out. In this session, we will study this curiosity – where it comes from, what it means for our survival. And how to use that primal force in the lives we lead and the stories we tell.

Closing Moment


Closing drinks at Radisson Blu


After-party at Palatul Universul

Monday, Oct. 16


24/7 launch

@ BEANS&DOTS / MEZANIN, Palatul Universul

Launch of the third edition of 24/7, the creative entrepreneurs’ guide published by DoR, and supported by UniCredit Bank.

Free entrance, limited spots. Festival pass holders will have priority.


Acasă book launch, screening, and exhibit

@ APOLLO111, Palatul Universul

Free entrance, limited spots. Festival pass holders will have priority.

Tuesday, Oct. 17


Juniper book launch, with author Thomas French

@ MEZANIN, Palatul Universul

Launch of the Romanian translation of Tom & Kelley French’s best selling memoir on the premature birth of their daughter, Juniper. Co-hosted by Editura Publica.

Free entrance, limited spots. Festival pass holders will have priority.

Wednesday, Oct. 18


Getting started with podcasting, with Pat Walters

@ MEZANIN, Palatul Universul

One of the things that's so exciting about the explosion in podcasting is how easy it is to get started. In this session, Pat Walters, editor at podcast powerhouse Gimlet Media, will walk you through the basic skills needed to make your first podcast: from coming up with an idea, to posting the finished podcast online. We'll cover basic equipment, types of podcasts, interviewing, selecting great tape, writing scripts, and editing.

Ticketed event. Buy your ticket here if you didn't get a Festival pass.

Thursday, Oct. 19


Coffee with Jacqui Banaszynski

@ BEANS&DOTS, Palatul Universul

A meet the speaker opportunity; only for Festival pass holders.


Documenting our everyday lives with a cell phone, with Elie Gardner

@ MEZANIN, Palatul Universul

Even though I’m a professional photographer, lately the images I most like to take are with my cell phone. When I use this small and familiar device, I find that I only minutely affect the scene and am able to capture spontaneous moments that I might otherwise miss. In this session, I’ll give simple technical tips for making better cell phone photos. When we take and share pictures of our everyday life, I believe we are actually creating an enormous historical archive of the world. Through these images, we can contribute to creating a more accurate reflection of our lives and cultures.

Ticketed event. Buy your ticket here if you didn't get a Festival pass.


A conversation with Jenna Pirog & The New York Times VR Screenings

@ VR Cinema, Veranda Mall

Screening of a curated collection of The New York Times virtual reality and 360 movies, in the presence of NYT VR editor, Jenna Pirog.


Under Fire: Journalists in Combat, with Finbarr O’Reilly

@ APOLLO111, Palatul Universul

Screening of the Peabody-winning documentary Under Fire: Journalists in Combat.

Ticketed event. Buy your ticket here if you didn't get a Festival pass.