If you've ever listened to The Score with Edmund Stone, heard Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm on KING FM, you know a good film score can be crucial to a movie's success. There's nothing better to propel stories forward or to communicate emotion when words fail.
That's why we at KING FM are excited to explore all that the Seattle International Film Festival has to offer. The festival--which, it's worthy to note, is about to turn 40 and is the most highly attended festival in the United States--runs through June 8, 2014 at various theaters all over Seattle.
We couldn't possibly delve into every film showing at SIFF---that's a job for The Stranger. We'll instead do what we do best...talk about the role of classical music in this festival. Below is a rundown of all the films featuring the kind of music you hear every day on KING FM. This much we can guarantee: the films' scores will be great.
SIFF says: "Oscar®-nominated director Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville, The Illusionist) makes his live-action debut in this effervescent, musical, candy-colored charmer about a mute piano prodigy unlocking his repressed childhood memories."
Ever seen a Wes Anderson film? If so, you'll be accustomed to the quirky mix of high and low culture, of reality and fantasy, here--and that applies to the score as well. The trailer opens with that famous Flower Duet from Lakmé, so we know there's plenty of classical music to be had. The film's main character is, at the beginning, shepherded between piano lessons and gigs by his two overbearing aunts and is pushed into an adult music competition. Later on, things get a bit less classical when the prodigy tries hallucinogenic drugs and is plunged into a colorful alternate universe.
Playing: May 27, 7pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
Charlie Chaplin Shorts
SIFF says: "Join "The Little Tramp" in his mis-adventures in this collection of short films, with live accompaniment by Donald Sosin. Fun for all ages!"
Live silent film accompaniment is a special art, and pianist Donald Sosin has been doing it for decades at film festivals across the country and around the world. Hear him capture the various moods of four Charlie Chaplin shorts: Kid Auto Races in Venice, One A.M., Easy Street, and The Immigrant.
Playing: May 25, 3pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
SIFF says: "The crowd-pleasing true story of Paul Potts, a shy shop assistant who went from undiscovered opera enthusiast to superstar when chosen to compete on 'Britain’s Got Talent.'"
As you can probably guess, this film is chock full of classic opera arias, including "La donna è mobile," "Nessun dorma" and "Vesti la giubba." But it's more than just a great soundtrack and a good laugh: it's a reminder to every young classical music lover that it's okay to prefer 98.1 over top 40 radio, even if peers may disagree.
Playing: May 24, 7pm, Lincoln Square Cinemas; May 30, 7pm, Egyptian Theatre
Song of the Fishermen
SIFF says: "The struggles of a poor family living near Shanghai are illustrated in this silent film by director Cai Chusheng. Newly restored by China Film Archive and screened with a live musical accompaniment, it is an iconic film pairing bleak social commentary with strikingly beautiful and detailed shots."
If you want a poignant film experience but don't have a lot of time to spare, this is the film for you. Total runtime is just 57 minutes.
Playing: May 25, 7pm, SIFF Cinema Uptown
Song of the New Earth
SIFF says: "Seattle filmmaker Ward Serrill (The Heart of the Game) follows Tom Kenyon’s quest to integrate modern science and ancient mysticism through sound. The scientist and shaman has a four-octave vocal range, and a dazzlingly unique view of the world."
In the last couple of years, scientific research has found that singing produces a huge handful of mental and physical positive side effects. This film focuses on an extraordinary individual who takes the mental health benefits of singing very seriously.
Playing: May 16 & 17 at AMC Pacific Place
This May Be the Last Time
SIFF says: "Filmmaker Sterlin Harjo investigates the 1962 disappearance of his grandfather, a native of Oklahoma’s Seminole Nation, by deconstructing the multinational origins of the ancient Seminole and Muscogee hymns sung by the rescue party."
This film doesn't concern classical music, per se--but as we all know, all musical styles are inspired at last partially by traditions of the past. It's fascinating to see the musical history of traditional Seminole and Muscogee hyms unfold, to find out how the people they encountered along the Trail of Tears influenced the sounds and stories they shared. It's something of a musical mystery tour.
Playing: May 31, 6:30pm, Harvard Exit; June 1, 4pm, AMC Pacific Place
Touch of the Light
SIFF says: "Music, dance, and a gentle dash of romance shine when Yu-Siang, a blind pianist, meets Chieh, an aspiring dancer who gave up her goal because she couldn’t afford extensive study and training. Based on Yu-Siang’s true story."
We were thrilled to find out that Huang Yu-siang, a real Taiwanese classical pianist, was the star of this partially fictionalized story. In the film world, so many actors and actresses play musicians but have never played a note themselves. It's refreshing to know the actor and the pianist is one and the same, and it's even more wonderful knowing Yu-siang composed some of the pieces himself.
Playing: May 22, 4pm, Egyptian Theatre