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Krakow grabs piece of film music fest pie

Fourth edition takes place May 19-22

Krakow’s Film Music Festival may still be in its infancy, but the event is gaining on its older siblings, Spain’s Ubeda and Tenerife Film Music Festivals, and the granddaddy of them all, Belgium’s Ghent Film Festival.

The fourth edition takes place May 19-22 in Poland’s second-largest city. Past composers presenting music at the nascent showcase include Oscar winners Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, who is from Poland, and Howard Shore.

This year’s scheduled featured player is Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi, best known for scoring “Princess Mononoke,” “Spirited Away” and “Howl’s Moving Castle.” The first half of the latest installment in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” will be presented by composer Klaus Badelt.

Krakow might have a leg up in that it’s the first film music festival of the season: Ubeda and Tenerife start in July, while Ghent occurs in October.

The timing is no accident, says Robert Piaskowski, the event’s artistic director. Event is sandwiched between Krakow’s Off Plus Camera Fest, which, produced in partnership with the Sundance Film Festival, highlights indie films in April, and the 51st Krakow Film Fest, which takes place in late May. Plus, Krakow overlaps with Cannes, so people can conceivably hit both within the same trip.

Varese Sarabande VP/record producer Robert Townson has attended each of the four music fests and finds Krakow unique in many ways, but one in particular: “None of the other festivals have been staging films where they perform the entire score live to picture,” he says.

Piaskowski says the 2008 festival drew 10,000 people to hear Camille Saint-Saens’ score for the 1908 film “L’Assassinat du Duc de Guise ” played live.

“We quickly found out what (attendees) were mostly interested in, Piaskowski says. “Screening the movies in high definition on the hugest available screen in Europe, with the soundtrack performed live.” He expects some of this year’s concerts to draw 20,000 people.

Instead of competing, the Euro film music fests tend to share ideas and, if you will, human resources. For example, composer Diego Navarro, who runs the Tenerife Film Music Fest, will conduct the orchestra at a concert featuring the music of Polish composer Bartosz Chajdecki at this year’s Krakow event.

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