11th Film Music Festival

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  • Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - Tuesday, June 5, 2018

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It opens us up to new experiences, leads us to discover secrets of film projections, disrupts our daily rhythm and unsettles us. It captivates our imaginations so much we can’t express it. What is it? Why, it’s film music!

In the era of new technologies and social media, we are all journalists and filmmakers to some extent. But feature films, today’s total works of art, are something quite different to our daily activity online. They allow us to rise above the mundane reality without losing sight of it. Film soundtracks sharpen our senses, and if it feels like they are rising bar to cross, they elevate us ever higher. The 11th Film Music Festival builds soaring, multimedia and multisensory constructions which reveal the importance of music in contemporary culture and in how we perceive the world. Let’s go!

Celebrations

His name isn’t readily associated with film music, even though he experimented in the field as far back as the 1960s. His psychedelic soundtrack to Wojciech Jerzy Has’s cult The Saragossa Manuscript intertwines electroacoustic sounds with Baroque stylisations. Celebrating his 85th birthday this year, Krzysztof Penderecki will be the protagonist and special guest of concerts Penderecki2Cinema, opening the FMF in Katowice (29 May, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra Hall) and Kraków (30 May, ICE Kraków). We will hear the Maestro’s compositions which were not originally written for films but which have been taken up by filmmakers. “There is plenty of autonomous music which works perfectly in films, even though it wasn’t written for the medium,” says Robert Piaskowski, artistic director of the FMF. “It’s difficult to imagine Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, David Lynch’s Inland Empire, Marcin Wrona’s Demon, the arrival scene in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island or the latest season of Twin Peaks without Penderecki’s powerful sounds. We want to show this fascinating paradox which has existed in cinema and in culture in general for many years.” The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the Belgian conductor Dirk Brossé performs The Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima and Polymorphia, with excerpts from films accompanying the music. The concert also features compositions by Michael Nyman, winner of this year’s Wojciech Kilar Prize, including the suite from Jane Campion’s The Piano. We will also hear the world premiere of the Concerto for trumpet and string orchestra by the second special guest of the opening ceremony, Elliot Goldenthal. The solo part, dedicated to Tadeusz Kościuszko, national hero of Poland and the US, is performed by the acclaimed Norwegian trumpeter Tine Thing Helseth.

Collaborations

Her films are highly diverse, and – unusually for the field – she is always open to collaboration. This means that the concert from the cycle Scoring4Polish Directors dedicated to Agnieszka Holland has a rather different format. The director will, of course, be the focal point and the guest of honour, but the event will also explore new music trends in Polish cinematography. The event also resounds with classics, including music by the Oscar-winning composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek to her films Total Eclipse, Washington Square and The Third Miracle. On 31 May at ICE Kraków, we will hear the outstanding AUKSO Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Marek Moś. The venue welcomes young composers: Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz (author of music from Holland’s latest films In Darkness and Spoor) will be mixing sounds live on stage, while Radzimir Dębski AKA Jimek leads the orchestra in his compositions for Marysia Sadowska’s The Art of Loving and Paweł Maślona’s Panic Attack. Other guests are composers Clint Mansell (we will hear his soundtrack from Loving Vincent directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman) and Sandro di Stefano; the latter presents a suite from his soundtrack to Bodo Kox’s The Man with the Magic Box.

Fairytale odyssey

Beauty and the Beast is surely known and loved by everyone. Literary versions date back to the 18th century, each more touching than the other. “If you’re moved by something, you’re more moved when you hear some of those Alan Menken notes or hear some of those Howard Ashman lyrics,” says the American director Bill Condon explaining the lasting power of the classic Walt Disney animation from 1991. Despite initial doubts, Condon agreed to direct a brand new live action version of the story. On International Children’s Day, the organisers of the FMF are joined by the Walt Disney Company Poland to present the latest interpretation of the fairytale: the first screening in this part of Europe of Beauty and the Beast (2017) with a live orchestral accompaniment. For the first time ever the concert version features soloists performing their parts live, bringing a whole new dimension to the cult songs. This follows the director’s original vision, described by the composer Alan Menkel: “As the characters become three-dimensional, Bill wanted to rewrite the music to match that.” Captivating images on the big screen (Rococo interiors, enchanted forest, frozen lake and ice gates!), soloists, the Polish Radio Choir and the Beethoven Academy Orchestra under the baton of Erik Ochsner on the stage – it will be a truly unforgettable evening! (1 June, Tauron Arena Kraków)

Action: interaction

There can be no doubt that video games set out standards for interactive entertainment and culture in general, while game soundtracks are increasingly finding their ways to concert halls. The FMF has been instrumental in shaping this trend, and this year it goes a step further by dedicating an evening to music composed for some of the most popular titles of recent years. “We are exploring a niche which is enjoying increasing popularity with our audiences. It will be the first gala in the festival’s history featuring leading names and top games,” promises Robert Piaskowski. The programme of the Video Games Music Gala includes hits from the Assassin’s Creed, Batman and Silent Hill series. We will also hear the suite from Medal of Honor which launched the career of composer Michael Giacchino, while Elliot Goldenthal presents a piece composed especially for the festival and inspired by his soundtrack from the film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The winner of this year’s FMF Young Talent Award is revealed during the gala, while the title of FMF Ambassador is bestowed on CD Projekt RED Studio – we will hear a brand new adaptation of the suite from their The Witcher 3. The concert is performed by the Beethoven Academy Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Ludwig Wicki, joined by the Pro Musica Mundi Choir and soloists. The Irish composer Eímear Noone, author of the soundtrack from World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, also steps up to the conductor’s pulpit on 2 June at Tauron Arena Kraków.

High stakes

Subtle intrigue, dazzling dialogue, confrontations over poker, spectacular car chases, state-of-the-art gadgets and of course the trademark Aston Martin and martini (shaken, not stirred). Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Casino Royale (dir. Martin Campbell), the first instalment of the latest reboot of the James Bond film series, became an instant classic: Daniel Craig was hailed as the best Bond of all time, Mads Mikkelsen’s ruthless maths genius Le Chiffre joined the ranks of the finest baddies, while the stunning Eva Green as Vesper Lynd was a perfect Bond girl. David Arnold’s soundtrack also plays an important role in the film. It’s a stone cold classic, bringing rhythm and dynamics to car chases, sensuality to romantic scenes and builds tension at pivotal points. The clearly defined and consistent storylines bring the film close to perfection. The screening of Casino Royale with live accompaniment during the FMF is bound to be a real hit! The concert version of the soundtrack is performed by Sinfonietta Cracovia under the baton of Gavin Greenaway (3 June, Tauron Arena Kraków).

FMF community

As well as providing top-level entertainment, FMF’s other goals are education, building communities and shaping global networks in the creative industry. To meet these aims, the festival hosts composition workshops, discussion panels and meetings with masters of film and music held as part of the FMF Audiovisual Forum. And since building communities is all about having fun, Dance2Cinema makes a welcome return: on 1 June, the post-industrial space of the Museum of Municipal Engineering resounds with songs from films by Pedro Almodóvar and funk-folk sounds fresh from Atli Örvarsson & Torrek. The programme also features a chamber concert from the cycle Cinematic Piano, with composers and frequent collaborators Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka presenting their compositions from the Oscar-nominated film Lion (2 June, ICE Kraków). Following festival tradition, the FMF Youth Orchestra of students at Kraków’s music schools performs on Sunday afternoon under the baton of Monika Bachowska. The young musicians have set themselves quite a challenge: the theme of the concert is Monster Movie Music Madness (3 June, ICE Kraków; the concert is repeated on 5 June at the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre of Music in Lusławice). On Friday afternoon, the organisers celebrate International Children’s Day by hosting a family picnic by Tauron Arena (1 June), while Monday evening features film screenings under the stars (4 June, Powiśle 11). Anyone can join the FMF community – everyone welcome!

Igor Kuranda, Karnet magazine

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