Twenty years ago, The New York Times started a platform for conversation, discussion and exchange of ideas, thoughts and points of view called TimesTalks. From the 13th to the 15th of April, to celebrate the two-decade anniversary, the media empire will host the first-ever TimesTalks Festival, an event that will pair some of its journalists together with artists, singers, filmmakers, writers, politicians, and other contemporary thinkers and creators.
Talking, discussing, and exchanging points of view and opinions are part of what we consider to be normal within a civilized society. But nowadays, it seems like many mass media prefer to broadcast and feature arguments, fights, and indistinct shouting – and even cursing – for the audience and its love for drama. Thankfully for us, there is still some seriousness left. "For 20 years now, TimesTalks has been a platform for spirited discourse between some of the most iconic figures of our time,” said Michelle Grey, Creative and Programming Director of TimesTalks. “With TimesTalks Festival, we’re looking to create an even bigger stage to bring these essential conversations to life.”

For the first edition of the festival, the headliners couldn’t get any better: Grace Jones, Margaret Atwood, Nan Goldin and Denzel Washington are just some of them. And that’s not hard to understand since, for the past two decades, TimesTalks has interviewed the likes of Ai Weiwei, Jim Jarmusch, Annie Leibovitz, Judi Dench, Iggy Pop, Tom Ford, and Meryl Streep, among many others. You can imagine our excitement, right? 
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Denzel Washington - Photo: John Russo
With all tickets sold out, Grace Jones will be the first (and only) one on Friday evening. The singer, performer, model and icon will discuss her career while promoting Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami, the upcoming documentary about her (private and public) life that is already being screened at some festivals around the world. In case you don’t have a ticket, don’t worry. Despite not seeing her live, TimesTalks will broadcast all its talks and events through social media, so you still have a chance!

On Saturday, photographer Nan Goldin will have a discussion together with Dr Andrew Kolodny moderated by Katie Benner about the worryingly escalating opioid crisis that’s happening in the United States. Also, journalist Katie Couric – who’s worked for CNN, CBS, and wrote several articles and books –, will present America Inside Out, an upcoming series for National Geographic in which she travels to a handful of cities across North America to discover what are the pressing social issues within the country.
Laurie Metcalf Credit   Sag Aftra Foundation.jpg
Laurie Metcalf - Photo courtesy of SAG-AFTRA Foundation
On Sunday, four discussions will take place. For us, the two most remarkable include an all-female casting. The first one is a pre-release screening of the first episode of the second season of The Handmaid’s Tale that will be followed by a conversation with writer Margaret Atwood and Elisabeth Moss, producer and star of the TV series, which will be moderated by Times’ Tina Jordan. The second one is titled Women of the Senate and will gather four United States senators to discuss women in politics and the special relationships cultivated among female figures of the upper chamber. Journalist Jennifer Steinhauer will moderate the panel, which includes two senators of the Republican party – Susan Collins and Joni Ernst – and two more of the Democratic Party – Amy Klobuchar and Heidi Heitkamp.
TimesTalks will take place from April 13 to 15 at TheTimesCenter, 242 West 41st Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, New York City.