#tiff22: Spotlight on Music in Movies; Composers in the Limelight!

The first in-person tiff (Toronto International Film Festival) in the post-COVID era, has been very exciting and enthralling for the audiences as well as the artistes from across the globe.

Being the biggest festival in North America, ‘tiff’ is a hub for discovering new talent, budding artistes, and filmmakers. Toronto puts the spotlight on young and bright creators who are taking excellence in a new direction and changing the face on cinema.

We are delighted to present in this article, some of the talented artistes who have aced the craft of writing music to picture.

A24’s film adaptation of Samuel D. Hunter’s acclaimed 2012 play, The Whale, had its North American premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in the Royal Alexandra Theatre on Sunday, September 11th at5:30pm. Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a DreamThe WrestlerBlack SwanMother!), the film follows Charlie, a reclusive English teacher living with severe obesity, as he attempts to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter for one last chance at redemption. This film marks Aronofsky’s first collaboration with composer Rob Simonsen (500 Days of Summer, The Adam Project, The Spectacular Now) who composed the film’s emotional score. Through its protagonist, Charlie, The Whale gives viewers access to a life that is rarely portrayed with tenderness or intelligence on the big screen, and Simonsen was tasked with capturing the persistent weight of Charlie’s regret while keeping the hope of redemption alive.

Darren Aronofsky says of Simonsen: “I found him to be an incredibly curious person, very, very hard working and able to layer melancholy with inspiration in the most beautiful ways.”

Simonsen has displayed his proclivity for embodying the emotional complexity of a film with his recent projects, The Adam Project, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Director Shawn Levy praised Simonsen for encapsulating his vision for The Adam Project, saying: “This IS the feeling of our movie,” while Jason Reitman noted Simonsen’s “extraordinary” ability to pay homage to Elmer Bernstein’s beloved Ghostbusters score while creating a modern score for Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Searchlight Pictures and director Stephen Williams’ film, Chevalier, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival at the Princess of Wales Theatre on Sunday, September 11th at 3:30pm. The film was inspired by the incredible story of composer Joseph Bologne, or Chevalier de Saint-Georges, who was the illegitimate son of an African slave and a French plantation owner that rose to improbable heights in French society, becoming an 18th century “superstar.” Chevalier brings to audiences not only the remarkable life, but also the real sounds of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799)—music which has only in recent years started to be played again to great acclaim by orchestras and opera houses worldwide. The original score was composed by Kris Bowers, with Michael Abels (Nope, Us, Get Out, Allen v. Farrow) arranging, producing and / or composing the original music for the on-screen performances in the film.

In addition to creating and arranging the music for on-screen performances, Abels also supplemented Bologne’s work featured in the film with his own classical orchestral compositions. “I first heard Joseph Bologne’s music years ago and since then, I’ve been inspired by him and curious about what his life must have been like,” comments Abels. “The chance to help bring his story to audiences through music is a realization of a lifelong dream.”

Director Stephen Williams says of Michael Abels and Kris Bowers: “Michael and Kris are both genius composers and fans of Chevalier’s music for a long time, and truly understand his role in the musical pantheon.  Both were extremely well educated and well versed in all things Chevalier and created something evocative,” says Williams. “Their incredible work has brought the story of their hero to life.”

Abels’ film career began when he was tapped by Jordan Peele to score Get Out after Peele saw a YouTube video of Abels’ orchestral composition Urban Legends. Abels, who was a school music teacher at the time, went on to compose the score for all three of Peele’s films, Get OutUs, and Nope, with his hip-hop influenced score for Us being short-listed for the Oscar and named “Score of the Decade” by The Wrap.

Oscar-nominated composer Volker Bertelmann (aka Hauschka) returned to TIFF with two feature films – the 2022 German Oscar entry film ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT and WAR SAILOR.  Volker produced one of his most experimental scores in ALL QUIET- as this was his fourth collaboration with director Edward Berger, he was allowed space to create a score that was different and extreme.  The music was composed by the London Contemporary Orchestra and features themes of war, longing for life, and innocence

Chanda Dancy composes for feature film DEVOTION. She composed a dynamic orchestral score that features string players mimicking planes diving. The film is directed by J.D. Dillard (SleightSweetheart) and stars Jonathan Majors, Glen Powell, Joe Jonas, Thomas Sadoski, Serinda Swan, Daren Kagasoff, Spencer Neville, and Nick Hargrove. The movie is based on the bestselling book Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship and Sacrifice by Adam Makos and tells the story of two U.S. Navy fighter pilots who are initiated together into the VF-32 squadron and pushed to their limits and whose friendship is tested when one of them is shot down behind enemy lines.

Colin Stetson has written new music for the feature film THE MENU.  Stetson has previously worked on HereditaryColor Out of SpaceThe FirstThe Texas Chainsaw MassacreBarkskins, and Mayday.

In “The Menu,” a couple (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) travels to a coastal island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef (Ralph Fiennes) has prepared a lavish menu, with some shocking surprises.

Feelin’ fine on Day 9 ! #TIFF22

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