Ghent film fest offers musical variation on a theme


Known for its focus on the impact of music on film, the Ghent Film Festival, which celebrates its 34th installment Oct. 9-20, has developed a reputation as one of the most intriguing stops on the international fest circuit. Attendees are more likely to relax and enjoy the decidedly intimate atmosphere than engage in high-stakes bidding wars or fight for coveted seats at star-studded premieres.

Put it this way -- there just aren't too many other places to see two-time Academy Award-winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla perform alongside his band, Bajofondo Tango Club.

"This year, we have a very special focus on Argentinean cinema because they have a lot of interesting film work from young directors," says festival managing director Jacques Dubrulle. "We try to discover a new (group) of talented of composers each year and give them a platform to showcase interesting films."

Dubrulle says that for the first time in the festival's history, all of the film-music content -- including the special tango and dance music fiesta with Santaolalla -- will take place during the last three days of Ghent's run, culminating with the seventh edition of the World Soundtrack Awards on Oct. 20.

The jury, led by actress Kathleen Turner, will present awards for best film, director and screenplay, in addition to the Georges Delerue Award for best music and the Joseph Plateau Award for lifetime achievement.

Unlike other festivals, the jury is required to consider the impact of a film's music when handing out prizes, Dubrulle notes. "The competition section is always dedicated to a soundtrack," he says. "This means that we ask the international jury to make the choice of the best film while keeping in mind the importance of the music in the film -- the music must be interesting but it must also serve the film."

Other events on tap this year include performances from composers Alberto Iglesias, Mychael Danna and Harry Gregson-Williams, as well as a special guest appearance by 2006's World Soundtrack Discovery of the Year winner, Evanthia Reboutsika. In addition, a film-music seminar has been organized to help engender open communication between visiting directors, composers, film professionals and the university town's local students.

Overall, the Ghent lineup, which will be announced in September, will showcase more than 200 feature-length, short and documentary films from around the world.