Transatlantyk Festival Wrap: Yoko Ono's Loneliness, Composers' Togetherness

Transatlantyk materials

The three-year-old event, set in Poland, makes a big noise in global movie circles and sets an attendance record.

The Transatlantyk Festival in Poznan, Poland ended near dawn Aug. 10 with a rowdy party at fest founder Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s palatial villa, where Lezdek Możdżer (the pianist for Kaczmarek’s Oscar-winning Finding Neverland score) did duets with Gloria Campaner, Chopin best performance award-winner at LA International Piano competition.

“Admissions were 67,000, more than we thought at first count – it was 41,000 last year,” said Kaczmarek, beaming like a happy Gatsby. “It’s amazing growth for a three-year-old festival,” said Waldemar Kalinowski, the Crazy Heart production designer who staged a reading of his TV miniseries script The Great Game, about Britain’s and Russia’s 100-year fight over Middle East oil.

STORY: Yoko Ono Grinds Guitars With Thurston Moore at Poland's Transatlantyk Festival 

Kaczmarek called Transatlantyk a “festival of ideas,” and the big idea this year was collaboration: between musicians and filmmakers, LA and Europe, and such unlikely pairings as Thurston Moore and Yoko Ono, who performed together. (Ono won the 2013 Transatlantyk Glocal Hero award; see other winners below.)

Ono zoomed off on her private jet before the party, but emailed The Hollywood Reporter her thoughts on artistic collaboration – specifically between and her and John Lennon. “We were totally independent artists,” wrote Ono. “Well, that's what we thought, and that's how we worked. But you have the list of what we created. So you may have your own opinion about it, I'm sure.” Lennon was abandoned by both parents, and Ono’s father lived apart from her family while her upscale, social-butterfly mother ignored her. Asked if Lennon’s and Ono’s artistic bond was rooted in childhood loss, Ono wrote, “It was rooted in the childhood fear of being alone.”

Moore told THR that the key to collaborating with Ono was simple: “I tell her ‘no’ sometimes, and she’s OK with that. I mean, I have a lot of other stuff going on, publishing and stuff.” Moore creates arty, punky books with his new collaborator, Eva Prinz, a veteran of major art-book publishers Abrams and Rizzoli.

Transatlantyk 2013 highlighted other notable collaborations. Double Oscar nominee Marco Beltrami told THR he had to create two scores at once for World War Z, to satisfy the clashing ideas of Brad Pitt and Paramount. “We did them simultaneously: the Paramount score in the big room at Abbey Road, for orchestral stuff, and Brad Pitt’s version in Mark Knopfler’s studio, British Grove, which has a lot more grit and intensity – it was like having a chamber group do it, you can almost hear the rosin of the strings. My mixer John Kurlander [Lord of the Rings] was head engineer at Abbey Road for 20 years, and he mixed the two together and made everybody happy.” Both are heard in the film.

Sundance Film Music Program chair Peter Golub, composer of Frozen River, did a mind-opening master class on classic film scenes, and campaigned to reform music in movies. “I think it doesn’t make any sense that music and sound aren’t treated integrally together early on,” Golub told THR. “It’s typical that a director will tell the composer, ‘This scene is 100 percent about the music’ and then tell the sound people it’s 100 percent about sound – and then they meet on the final mix when it’s actually put together. It’s a shame you couldn’t actually plan something where both work in harmony together.”

“Composers should be sitting around the table through the whole process, not just at the end,” agreed Kalinowski. “Music’s not like pepper the waiter adds to a dish – it should be baked in.”

Integration of composing is a recipe for hits, said Golub. “Dave Porter said [at Transatlantyk] that on Breaking Bad, each week they meet with the music supervisor providing songs and source cues and the sound department providing effects and the composers providing music, divvy it up and talk about how they’ll overlap. The Coen brothers always have a team, Carter Burwell and Skip Lievsay, and they discuss early on what their plan is – and it’s effective. At Sundance, we had our first lab at Skywalker Ranch incorporating incorporating sound design – there’s a team of director, composer and designer, approaching a scene mindful of all the possibilities of music and sound.”

Quadruple Oscar-winning composer Henry Mancini took a jab at Hollywood’s dumb habit of regarding music as an afterthought in the title of his memoir, Did They Mention the Music? Transatlantyk Festival is smart, distinctive and important among global film festivals because it does mention the music, and makes composers feel less lonely in the movie business.

Transatlantyk Festival 2013 winners:

Young Composer 2013:

First Prize: Xiaotian Shi (China / UK)

Second Prize: Lennert Busch (Netherlands)

Third Prize: Łukasz Pieprzyk (Poland)

Instant Composer 2013:

First Prize: Aleksander Dębicz (Poland)

Second Prize: Jan Miserre (Germany)

Third Prize: Radosław Mateja (Poland)

The jury, headed by Leszek Możdżer and comprising Marc Marder, Zachary Matz, Dave Porter and Peter Golub, also honored Michał Wróblewski (Poland) and Paweł Tomaszewski (Poland).