Why is promoting cultural exchanges so important? Author, songwriter and TV producer Alberto Ferreras talks living in the US, being a part of the VAF-NYC and succeeding with his first novel.
You are a really good representation of NYC, a true melting pot of cultures! You were born in Spain, raised in Venezuela and you have spent many years of your life living and working in the United States. Is your character a reflexion of this cultural mix?
People of my generation had a great advantage, we grew up in Venezuela in years when great cultural exchanges took place. We had the International Theater Festival in Caracas, the French Film Festival, the film programming of the Cinemateca Nacional— but also, we had a great cultural community that exchanged ideas after the shows. That was very important for me, and I’m convinced that this took place because Venezuelans are very open to dialogue and interaction. These events, and the discussions that would take place afterwards, made us explore the culture of different countries. We grew up exposed to the art, the films, the plays, and the literature of the entire world. I believe that thanks to that, I was able to adapt to the United States, because I was really open to understanding cultural differences. The only problem is that, in some cases, we assumed that anything that came from the outside was better than what we did in Venezuela. Living abroad has made me appreciate the Venezuelan culture, that capacity that we have to see the bright and funny side of everything, and also the warm way we relate to each other, something that is not so common in other countries.
We like to think that the Venezuelans in NYC Festival is a common space that allows Venezuelans and Latinos to be part of a cultural exchange , Why do you think it is important to promote such experiences?
It’s very important to have cultural exchanges it allows us to have perspective, and understand what’s local and what’s universal in our own work. But the exchange has to work both ways, bringing culture from the outside, but also exporting ours. I think that in countries like the United States a nation that is very good at exporting its culture, there is a need to open up to other countries and become more aware and sensitive to foreign realities, and also to realize that there’s two sides to every coin.
Your novel “B as in Beauty” has seen great success so far, but what’s in the future for “B”?
Fortunately, “B as in Beauty” has been a success; it’s Spanish version just came out in the U.S. and Spain, and soon it will be published in Italy. I wrote the story thinking that it would make a great movie, so I think it’s easy to adapt it to the stage or the screen. I have received some offers but I haven’t signed anything. I want to make sure that whoever options its rights will make a quality film.
You have been part of the VAF-NY for two years already, what would you like to see as the future of the festival?
I would like the festival to grow and bring more shows, and more works from Venezuelan artists, specially the type of pieces that transcend language barriers. New York is a tough town where it’s hard to be noticed, and sometimes great work can be neglected. The Festival is carving a great niche in this city, so we should take advantage of that in order to show the great talent and the amazing projects that Venezuela is developing.
By: Victoria Mora.
New York, 2012.