12th Krakow Film Music Festival


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  • Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Common Language

According to the film director Frank Capra, there are three universal languages: film, music and maths. If he is to be believed, according to our calculations Kraków will be the perfect place for conversation in May!

At times subdued, discreet, almost absent, then loud, urgent, almost aggressive… Sometimes it serves to simply illustrate emotions, only to take over the burden of narration later. Music has long been an equal partner to film, and directors and composers work closely together to ensure their message is harmonious. The 12th Krakow Film Music Festival (14-21 May) presents a selection of highly successful combinations of sound and vision. We will hear chamber music, acoustic music, rousing music, orchestral music, exuberant music and resonant music, and the finale concert resounds with dazzling and elegant music. Get ready for symphonic suites and catchy songs! All this, as always during the FMF, in the company of acclaimed and up-and-coming artists and loyal audiences.

Top of your lungs

This year’s FMF kicks off with a showcase of choral music. During the Cinema Chorale concerts, vocal parts which usually simply bring variety to soundtracks are brought to the fore. The Pro Musica Mundi choir, led by Wiesław Delimat, performs compositions by masters of cinema music Ennio Morricone, David Lang, Patrick Doyle and the special guest of the concert – Don Davis. On 14 May, the Church of St Catherine resounds with excerpts from The Mission, The Chorus and Death in Venice.

Powerful choral sounds also fill the Krzysztof Penderecki Hall at ICE Kraków. On 15 May, we will hear Wojciech Kilar’s unsettling soundtrack from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In autumn 1991, the pianist was seriously considering ending his career in film. Soon after, he received a call from Francis Ford Coppola; a call that managed to change the composer’s mind, launching the most spectacular period in his career. The simultaneous screening of the film by the American director with music by the Polish composer performed live will be a world premiere and the first ever coproduction between the FMF and its partner festival FIMUCITÉ. During Dracula Live in Concert, the Beethoven Academy Orchestra and the Polish Radio Choir are conducted by Don Davis, composer of the soundtrack from The Matrix trilogy. The audiodescription accompanying the screening brings the action to people with sight impairment.

Fresh classics

On 16 May, we will experience the splendour of some of the greatest festivals and events of the film industry. Before the latest concert of the Scoring4Polish Directors cycle, we will welcome guests on the red carpet. The protagonist of the evening will he Krzysztof Zanussi. Celebrating the director’s 80th birthday, ICE Kraków resounds with compositions written by his friend and long-term collaborator Wojciech Kilar alongside music by Michał Miodek and Sandro Ruscio. The programme features themes from across Zanussi’s illustrious career, from The Illumination (1972) to Ether (2018). The second part of the concert recalls the most fascinating Polish film music of the last season. Young composers Marcin Masecki, Antoni Komasa-Łazarkiewicz and Bartosz Chajdecki present music from the films Ziuk. Młody Piłsudski and Mr. Jones and the TV drama Kruk.

Young for the young

On the next day, we are transported to the land of fairy tales. The programme of Disney in Concert: The Magic of Music (17 May) includes favourite songs from films such as Moana, Coco and Tangled, alongside tracks from classics such as Hercules, Pocahontas and The Lion King. Tauron Arena Kraków welcomes the FMF Youth Orchestra led by Monika Bachowska and Erik Ochsner. The young Polish musicians are supported by colleagues from the Conservatorio Profesional de Música de Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Soloists include Natalia Nykiel, Michał Szpak, Kasia Łaska, Magda Wasylik and Marcin Jajkiewicz as well as stars from the TV programme “The Voice of Kids” Amelia Andryszczyk and Antek Scardina. The concert is repeated in the instrumental version on 21 May at the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music in Lusławice.

In the evening, fairy-tale magic gives way to prosaic everyday reality during a chamber performance Birdman Live in Concert. The soundtrack from the multi-Oscar winning film includes a series of improvisations for percussion. Its composers Antonio Sánchez, special guest of this year’s FMF, repeats them live during the film screening at ICE Kraków. The musician expresses the film’s atmosphere and rhythm by using a palette of percussion sounds, from delicate brushes via unsettling snare drums to metallic cymbals. Just like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Birdman is presented with audiodescription.

Master and thief

On 18 May, we are delighted to welcome back the composer of music from Girl with a Pearl Earring, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Shape of Water and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Alexandre Desplat is famous for his restraint in using expansive sounds of the vast orchestras he works with. “You sense the size of an orchestra even if you never hear all the instruments playing at once,” the French composer explains. We will experience the power he holds over sounds during the evening titled The Magic and Majesty of Alexandre Desplat. At ICE Kraków, the special guest leads the Sinfonietta Cracovia orchestra in his repertoire awarded two Oscars and the Wojciech Kilar Award.

 “I steal from all productions I have seen, and I have seen plenty because I used to work in a video rental shop,” explains Quentin Tarantino. Ever since his debut in the early 1990s, the director has been famous for creating an explosive blend of witty dialogue, exaggerated violence, strong characters and distinctive soundtracks. He rarely commissions soundtracks, preferring to reach for tracks and songs from his extensive record collection. On 18 May, the concert Dance2Cinema: Tarantino Unchained turns the Chamber Hall of ICE Kraków into a club stage. We’ll dance along to hits from Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Django Unchained and Reservoir Dogs performed by Pop Culture Band from Spain and Polish soloists Ania Karwan and Damian Ukeje.

Black tie and sequins

Alexandre Desplat is also the star of Sunday afternoon. On 19 May, Dominique Lemonnier performs at the historical Juliusz Słowacki Theatre alongside Traffic Quintet. The violinist, better known under her pseudonym Solrey, first met Desplat as they worked on the film Le souffleur, and she quickly became his favourite soloist. The attraction went beyond the professional, and the two have been in a relationship ever since. In 2015, Solrey recorded the album Traffic Quintet Plays Alexandre Desplat which forms the basis of the chamber concert held as part of the cycle Cinematic Piano. The theatre resounds with motifs from films including Girl with a Pearl Earring, The King’s Speech, The Ghost Writer, The Tree of Life, Coco Before Chanel and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The composer takes to the stage to play flute and percussion.

In the evening, we swap the cosy theatre for the glamour and splendour of Tauron Arena Kraków. We say goodbye to the 12th FMF in style! The programme of the FMF Gala: The Glamorous Show resounds with music from Moulin Rouge!, The Great Gatsby, Romeo + Juliet and Love Actually with live dance performances (choreographed by Santiago Bello from Tenerife), dazzling stage sets and meticulously planned special effects. The Beethoven Academy Orchestra and the Pro Musica Mundi choir are led by conductor Krzysztof Herdzin, with brand-new arrangements of songs performed by an ensemble created especially for the occasion by Jan Stokłosa. Soloists include stars of Polish stages Natasza Urbańska, Natalia Nykiel, Maria Sadowska, Barbara Kurdej-Szatan, Igor Walaszek and Jakub Wocial. The special guest of the event will be the composer and pianist Craig Armstrong, winner of the Golden Globe, performing two of his own compositions.

Music, film and greenery

FMF isn’t just a feast for fans of cinema and music – it’s also a great meeting for representatives of the industry. The festival awards annual prizes to outstanding artists and institutions. The Kilar Award is given for lifetime achievement, while the winner of the FMF Young Talent Award is selected through an international competition. The title of FMF Ambassador is awarded to individuals and institutions promoting the event in international film and music circles. In 2019, the festival launches a brand new award for Polish Soundtrack of the Year composed for a film, TV series or animation. “In creating this new distinction, we believe it will become an important tool for building appreciation and esteem for composers writing music for Polish cinema,” stresses Robert Piaskowski, artistic director of the FMF. A jury of critics and music and film journalists shortlisted ten soundtracks, including music from films and TV dramas including The Butler, Clergy, Rojst and Kruk. The winner receives a statuette and an invitation to perform their music during a concert at next year’s FMF.

An important element of the festival puzzle is once again the Audiovisual Forum. The festival centre at the Krzysztofory Palace welcomes some of the central figures of the industry. The series of discussion panels and workshops reveals how sound engineers work with composers and how soundtracks are transferred from cinemas to concert halls, the role played by festivals in composers’ careers, and the place of choirs in contemporary cinema. We will also learn how to write about film music, how to promote it and pursue industry prizes. Organisers reveal behind the scenes details of the making of Dracula Live in Concert, and introduce the lives and work of Krzysztof Zanussi, Wojciech Kilar, Andrzej Wajda, Alexandre Desplat and Craig Armstrong and filmmakers nominated for Polish Soundtrack of the Year.

If you need a break between the concerts and panels, head to Powiśle, hosting the festival village between 15 and 20 May. The green zone provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of the festival with yoga sessions, macramé workshops, acoustic music, dance sessions, low-key film screenings, delicious snacks and plenty of space to relax among trees. Each day brings a different array of attractions – detailed information on the accompanying events can be found on the FMF website.

Of the three universal languages of film, music and maths, Frank Capra chose the first. As he explains, this gives the artist an incredible power: they have the undivided attention of millions of people for a couple of hours! Luckily for us, we are not bound by limitations. Film plus music equals the FMF – simply irresistible! (Bartosz Suchecki, “Karnet”)



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