The Festival of Dangerous Ideas – Our top picks

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas – Our top picks

CREATED ON // Monday, 18 August 2014

The upcoming Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the Opera House seeks to challenge mainstream thought and opinion, bringing contentious ideas to the fore. Here are our top picks:

Sydney’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas was in the headlines more than usual back in June after it was announced that a talk by Muslim writer and activist Uthman Badar titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’ was part of the 2014 program. But, after widespread condemnation, the Sydney Opera House and St James Ethics Centre, who produce the festival each year, have cancelled the event.

In Conversation with Masha Gessen

Pussy Riot’s vibrant, feminist, punk sensibility drew the attention of the world to Putin’s controversial third presidential term. Their guerrilla protest performances saw them convicted of ‘hooliganism motivated by religious hatred’ in 2012, and members NadyaTolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina sentenced to two years in prison. These artists and activists continue to draw attention to the abuses of Putin’s regime through their new non-governmental group ZonaPrava. August 31, 7.15pm

Salman Rushdie

As Australia grapples with its own discussion about freedom of speech, Salman Rushdie comes to the Festival of Dangerous Ideas to speak about major themes in his writing, his life and the contemporary world: freedom of expression, religion, pop culture, current events, East-West relations and the role of the artist in shaping our understanding of the world.August 30, 9pm


[Image] Author Salman Rushdie

John Pilger in conversation

Internationally renowned journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger addresses the ‘great Australian silence’, applying it not only to the treatment of Indigenous people but to class, great power and the limits of public debate.In the wake of the release of his latest film Utopia, Pilger will be in conversation to discuss the ‘unofficial truths’ that are often unmentionable in Australian ‘mainstream’ debate. August 31, 3.30pm

Simon Crerar, Tim Duggan, Peter Fray & Mark Scott

While new philanthropic models for journalism are emerging, and traditional journalism is working out how to survive, cat video publishers might be the ones to save the day. Maybe they were just using the cats to attract our attention, so that they could then give us the serious journalism we need. In the new world, there may be fewer newspapers, but good journalism might just find new homes and not entirely disappear. August 31, 10.30am


Anne Manne

Australian writer and social commentator Anne Manne argues that our lives no longer centre on social and family groups, and have become highly individualistic. A society full of people who are self-obsessed, have a deep need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others is not going to be a happy place. It’s time we looked at the sources of this epidemic and how it can be stopped.August 30, 11am

[Top image] Pussy Riot

Festival of Dangerous Ideas, Sydney Opera House, August 30-31. Bookings:



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