Two-day Berkeley festival to showcase visions, perspectives

by Marta Yamamoto

Uncharted co-curator Lance Knobel in conversation with Scott Budnick, executive producer of The Hangover movies, and founder of the Anti-Recividism Coalition, at the 2016 Uncharted Berkeley Festival of Ideas. Photo: Kelly Owen

EAST BAY TIMES / By Marta Yamamoto —The fifth year of Uncharted, the Berkeley Festival of Ideas, on Oct. 27 and 28 at Berkeley Repertory Theater and Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, will have a new co-curator and new conversations that promise to live up to the slogan “Unscripted, Unpredictable, Uncharted.”

The festival, founded in 2013 by online news site Berkeleyside, supports the belief that solutions to today’s challenges can result from the convergence of different visions and perspectives, arrived at through intimate, one-on-one conversations about some contemporary issues.

This year, Helena Brantley joins founder Lance Knobel as co-curator.

“Our goal is to create a space, two days in time, where people from across the Bay Area can come and be informed, share ideas, question and challenge,” Brantley said. “It’s meant to be a space where people can be OK with all the questions and, at the same time, enjoy what a real diversity of people have to say about some of the key issues of our day.”

This year’s conversations will cover such topics as criminal and restorative justice; business and leadership; gender and race; work-life balance; religion; refugees; and end-of-life issues.

A specific talent Knobel has demonstrated is in identifying people who are shaping the way things happen and bringing them to Berkeley before they peak by winning a Breakthrough Prize or before they’re featured on the front of The New York Times arts or science section.

“One of the things we pride ourselves in is finding unexpected people, well ahead of the curve,” Knobel said. “So our name, Uncharted, has that resonance that we’re taking our festivalgoers into uncharted waters, to find ideas and thinkers they didn’t expect to encounter.”

Knobel and Brantley take the festival’s curation seriously, spotlighting people who have something different to offer and creating a celebration of people, ideas and ways of thinking.

They look for people who are writing, teaching or creating in some way about a topic that’s relevant now and have demonstrated some commitment and knowledge around current issues.