FMF 2017

I was lucky enough to be at the official kickoff of the 10th annual Festiwal Muzyki Filmowej W Krakowie ; and then attend the full festival which ran from May 17-23.

Held yearly in beautiful Krakow,Poland- this is a festival for film music lovers as well as industry and artistic people involved in the ever-changing and growing field of film music.

With an excellent staff and volunteer team and the generous support of RMF Classic , this is a great place to immerse yourself in the world of sounds from the cinema and to get  insightfull commentary from the big names in film scoring ;as well as many up and coming composers.

Featuring a full slate of workshops in addition to talks and concerts this is a go to mecca for the film music enthusiast.

Definitely check out their website for video, pics, information, and a very cool link to listen to the new compilation CD released on Varese Sarabande: FMF 2017

Press Conference-Host:Magdalena Wojewoda-in attendance were:Robert Piaskowski,  Abel Kornzeniowski,Trevor Morris, and Robert Townson.

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Interview w: Jan AP Kaczmarek: go straight to the audio link for an interview w the composer about his music career and the Transatlantyk Festival:

FMF Interview 17-05-117

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PANEL: Independent Critics in Film Music
Host: Ray Bennet
Participants: Eleni Mitsiaki, Jonathan Broxton, Peter F. Ebbinghaus

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Opening Night Concert w Abel Korzeniowski- a sold out concert hall at the ICC enjoys a fantastic concert featuring the composers film and television music.

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Some Q and A time w Trevor Morris: head to the audio link for a lengthy conversation w composer Morris about his music for film, TV, and video games:

FMF Interview-20-05-17

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Q and A w Klaus Doldinger and Jean-Michel Bernard- the audio is poor,but a great talk by the composers as well as a cool impromptu jam at the end-audio link is here:  Doldinger + Bernard talk film music and jam some jazz near the end

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Thoughtful words from Giorgio Moroder- hiatus since the mid-90’s-spent time doing art, photography,a piano concert, and he renovated  car-recently he has been back doing DJ work and has scored a series called: Queen Of The South-started doing film music in the 70’s after he was bought to the attention of Alan Parker, this was after he produced Donna Summers: I Need Love.-He scored Parker’s hit film Midnight Express, winning an Oscar for Best original Score in 1977-he talked a bit about the film Metropolis and his struggle to modernize it w new music and a restored print-by the time they could track all the footage down it had been 2 years and the result already seemed dated when it was finally released-it was the first digital sound presentation-says he is not a great keyboard player-never toured much-started as the first DJ in Germany in 1969 and has now come full circle to do live DJ shows(including the outdoor one in Krakow at FMF)-it is fun he says-he says he must have mixed over 1 thousand songs in the studio over the years-says the new digital technology is great-for 2k you can have a good set-up w a laptop-” it’s a democracy of music now”-talked about his hits written for Top Gun-said they recorded a demo w The Motels lead singer which ended up being re-recorded w Berlin for the big hit “Take My Breath Away”-talked about Scarface-now a cult classic-very high expectations when it was produced-Moroder did the Main Theme and 5 songs-cast and crew screening ended in complete silence-the critics hated it & helped kill it-when it came out on video it was a great success especially in the African-American community-big cult movie-Jay Z wanted to redo the songs w some rap and Beyonce-Universal wanted to but DePalma said no-so an album inspired by Scarface came out-Moroder would write more music for it and re-record some stuff if he could-he said 30 out of 100 songs he did were “good” and 10 did well at the charts…to see pictures of his performance at FMF 2017 go to the FMF website at: FMF 2017

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All Is Film Music + Titanic shows pack the house at Tauron Arena-  there is a lot of interest in film music here in Poland as is evidenced by two packed houses at the 17,000 seat Tauron Arena in Krakow

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Standing room only to hear Howard Shore: Shore says he lives in a wooded area in the countryside and this setting really helped him connect with the Lord Of The Rings storyline-this is where he writes and he records mostly in Europe-he starts writing with a pencil and paper then he progresses to digital technology-he studied clarinet and leaned the importance of writing with a pencil-says he doesn’t compose on a computer-he says he writes “away from the film”- he views it once, then writes roughly 45 mins of music after improvising and dreaming about the film-writes more about the “idea” of the film and not so much about the images-writing from the heart-then come orchestration- In Silence Of The Lambs he concentrated his writing on the character played by Jodi Foster rather than the monster character of Anthony Hopkins-In 86  he scored The Fly for David Cronenberg w no electronics-afterwards he started  developing his “Opera Technique with Electronics”– for Signs Of Life (89) he used electonic sound with mechanical and underwater sounds and noise and these played the music he had written-this unsettleded the score when mixed with the orchestrated recording- he talked about the challenge of the 13 minute main title sequence for Hugo (2011)-and mentioned a recent film Denial (2016) shot in Poland- Lord Of The RingsPeter Jackson flew him over to see what they were doing-everything was made by hand for the film-it was a huge challenge for him-he was 9,000 miles away and NZ still only had 56k dial-up internet service-logistical nightmare w over 4 hours of music- he doest have a “team”-he orchestrates, writes, and conducts-wrote for 230 musicians+orchestra+choir+vocalists-he developed a “technique” to control all this-so he took 1 year for each LOR score to write, orchestrate, produce and develop extended versions-he wrote 12 hours of music which took 3 years and 9 months all in…longest production in film history as the films were all shot together and then The Hobbit began..a great talk by Howard Shore!!

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More great films here at the goEast FF ,which has wrapped up now with the awards having been given out a few days ago. Here is a little more about some of the films I was able to check out…

The Citizen– d. Ronald Vranik ( Hungary-2016)

Director Vranik returns to the festival after screening his film Transmision here in 2009. This time around he weaves a very human story centring around a African migrant in Budapest ,who struggles to make himself a part of Hungarian society. He comes into the circle of an illegal Iranian immigrant named: Shirin ,as well as a married Hungarian woman: Maria. This trio of characters become intwined in a fluid relationship involving love and loss,as well as racism ,and responsibility.

I found the film had a strong new- realist influence, as the director studies the socio-economic,race, and immigration issues prevalent in modern Hungary. But he never loses sight of the very human story unfolding before us.

Using a cast including a former economist from Africa and a designer from Iran the film grounds itself in an authenticity that again has echoes of the Italian new-realist movement.

A strong  feature here from Popfilm in Hungary….

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Exiled-d. Davis Simanis ( Latvia-2016)

This is the story of a German army doctor sent to Latvia in 1917 in the midst of WW I. He does so to report on back on the conditions of the facilitiy looking after wounded soldiers in a dilapidated old manor house.

While sporadic fighting takes place in the surrounding area, the doctor finds that the injured are suffering from unknown illness’ and trauma from the horrors of the war; and he seems incapable of healing them. All he can really provide for them is comfort and compassion and his time doesn’t seems fruitless. That is until he rescues a young boy left alone in the forest, and finds that perhaps he can help him find his way back to civilization.

Wonderfully played by Ulrich Matthes, this film is loosely  based on the the story of Ovids exile. It is a tough, unrelenting movie, based in historical research on WW I, which was the first large scale mechanized war ;and as a result the first war to unleash a wave of mental and emotional suffering on this magnitude.

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Filthy-d. Tereza Nvotova (Czech/Slovakia-2016)

Filthy is a gritty new film from first time director Nvotova. A graduation work for FAMU, this is an impressive film dealing with the topics of sexual abuse, mental illness, and coming of age.

After being victimized by a family friend and raped, our main character finds herself housed in a mental institution as she tries to cope with the trauma of the event.

Shot in the largest mental institution in Slovakia, a facility little changed since the Communisti Era, the director uses actors and real patients in the wards to give the movie the definite realist edge, and to ground it in the context of modern Slovak society.

Th story deals with  difficult and serious subject, but we never lose sight of the drama and encapsulation of tthe resiliency of human courage.

An impressive first film from Nvotova, and  one would hope for more good things to come from her in the future.

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Marina, Mabuse, and Moritori-d. Kathryn Andersen (Germany 2016)

Artur Brauner and his film studio are the subject if this new documentary from director Andersen.

Brauer survived the Holocast in Poland and made it to West Berlin in 1946. Always having been interested in cinema, he convinced his grandmother to sell her fur coat and with this money financed his first film: Moritori.

Shot in the ruins of Berlin, in near impossible conditions, Braurer created a solid drama about the persecution of Jews in WW II. Unfortunately the film was unsuccessful at the cinemas, so Braurer produced a more commercial film next, which proved to be a big success.

With the proceeds from this film, Brauer purchased an old poison  gas factory in Spandau mand here he set up his CCC Studios.

These studios were to pump out up to 18 feature films a year in the 1950s, and Brauer was credited with singlehandedly keeping the Berlin film scene alive after most of the talent had fled following the war.

The studio would go on to produce over 700 films, including  over 250 made by Brauner himself. Although concentrating on commercial fare the studio did make 24 films through the years dealing with the Holocast. These include Wadjas: A Love Story In Germany and the award wining film : Europa Europa.

Now in his 90s Brauner has handed most of the duties of the studio to his daughter ( and director of this film), Kathryn Andersen.

A very cool look at at the father of ” creative producing” ….

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A Hole In The Head-d. Robert Kirchhoff (Czech/Slovak-2016)

A documentary styled as an auteur film. This is an apt description of a new film by director Kirchhoff which is the latest in a series of works that include the award winning film : Normalization.

Here the director  has made a film that explores the neglected issue of the persecution of the Roma people’s , and their suffering at the hands of the Nazis during WW II.

Individual stories and remembrances are used to create a film more about the memories of the atrocities of the Roma Holocast, than a researcher-led traditional documentary telling of the story.

This style helps connect the film to its diverse characters knowledge of the past, and to their present day situations; including  their hopes for a recognition of their suffering…..

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