The Ghent Film Festival celebrates 35 years


If there is an intersection between the booming global boxoffice and the sagging music business, it may just be the Ghent Film Festival, the premier international movie event dedicated primarily to film music, now in its 35th year.

The Flemish festival, which takes place Oct. 7-18, is expected to draw more than 100,000 visitors this year -- not bad for an event that launched in 1974 as a student film festival. As it approaches middle age, longtime managing director Jacques Dubrulle says it has carved out a hard-won place among the myriad global film fests jockeying for position on the crowded festival calendar. "The Ghent Film Festival was the first to give a platform to film music composers," he says. "This pioneering role has certainly had an impact. Ghent has grown into a meeting point for established and up-and-coming musical talent."

The 35th edition contains the Festival's most ambitious slate of concerts to date, including performances by the Brussels Philharmonic of selections from five-time Oscar winner John Williams, a tribute to the late Anthony Minghella by composer Gabriel Yared, and a performance from Clint Mansell, winner of last year's best original score at the World Soundtrack Awards for Darren Aronofsky's sci-fi epic "The Fountain." Oscar winner Dario Marianelli ("Atonement") and composer Angelo Badalamenti, best known for his work with David Lynch, will also perform live following the fest's presentation of the aforementioned World Soundtrack Awards on Oct. 18.

In a world of decreasing album sales, Dubrulle feels the Festival's emphasis on live music provides an increasingly coveted outlet for composers who spend too little time performing in front of audiences. "Festivals and other live performances have become more important to promote film music," he notes. "People are less likely to buy albums, but are more willing to see and hear a live performance of the music they like. The festival is glad it can give a platform to film music composers and thus promote film music in an excellent way."