Ghent’s World Soundtrack Awards to Fete French Composer Francis Lai

Film Fest Ghent, whose World Soundtrack Awards initiated a spate of annual film music showcases around the world over the past decade, has named French composer Francis Lai as the recipient of the WSA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for the event’s 14th edition (Oct. 14-25).

The honor for Lai, best known for his scores on Claude Lelouch’s landmark “A Man and a Woman” and Arthur Hiller’s blockbuster hit “Love Story,” is in keeping with the French skew of Ghent’s film fest proper, which is entering its 41st year. (Catherine Deneuve is this year’s poster girl.) In this regard, according to fest spokesperson Riema Reybrouck, a series retrospectives on French directors are in the planning stages.

A selection of Lai’s work will be performed at the WSAs on Oct. 25, where American film composer Cliff Martinez will also hold court as the main guest of the musical proceedings, a distinction held by Alexandre Desplat last year. Martinez’s music, with an emphasis on his work with Steven Soderbergh (“Traffic,” “sex, lies, and videotape”) and Nicolas Winding Refn (“Drive,” “Only God Forgives”), will be performed by the Brussels Philharmonic, conducted by Dirk Brosse.

In addition to the Lai and Martinez programs, Brosse and the Brussels Philharmonic — as is custom — will perform music by last year’s Discovery Award winner, in this case Dan Romer (“Beasts of the Southern Wild), who will be in attendance.

Competitive nominees for the WSAs will be announced in mid-August.

Also, timed to the 100th anniversary of the release of Charlie Chaplin’s classic “The Tramp,” the orchestra will perform Chaplin’s score for “The Circus” (1928) on Oct. 26, the day after the festival ends.

This year, music will also play a more prominent role in the festival proper with a newly introduced sidebar call Sound and Vision, sponsored by music streaming service Spotify. Two films already programmed in the section include the Belgian premiere of “20,000 Days on Earth,” which played at Sundance and Berlin earlier in the year. The film is a “fictional documentary” about a day in the life of singer-songwriter-novelist Nick Cave by the artists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. Also on tap is a film on the Belgian electronica band Arsenal. Reybrouck says the fest hopes to round out the program with about 10 titles.

Another event tied to the festival will be an exhibition celebrating the work of Federico Fellini at Caermersklooster, the museum that hosted the Ghent-related Stanley Kubrick exhibition in 2006. Like the Kubrick showcase, there will be film excerpts, drawings and photos from the Italian film maestro’s career, while a concert of Fellini’s best-known composer Nino Rota, titled “Rota/ Fellini,” is scheduled for Oct. 23. The Fellini showcase in Gent will be the second stop for the showcase since its June 2013 debut at the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam.

As previously announced, novelist/screenwriter Brett Easton Ellis will serve as fest jury president.


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