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Film Music Festival showcases cinematic compositions

The Park City Film Music Festival will bring 130 films to the Egyptian Theatre and Santy Auditorium May 17-23. (Image courtesy of Leslie Harlow)
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You could call it a seven-year itch. After six years of hosting the Park City Film Music Festival (PCFMF) during the Sundance Film Festival, founder Leslie Harlow started thinking it was time for a change.

The festival has come a long way since its inception in an unfinished retail space at The Canyons with a projector that died after about three hours. Still, with each year came higher costs to rent space, more parking issues, and less enthusiasm from locals who prefer to avoid the mid-January mayhem.

Harlow decided to move the seventh annual PCFMF to a different time frame altogether, opening the door to utilize some of the best venues in town and to collaborate with other local entities.

Between May 17 and 23, 130 films showcasing the impact of music on screen will be shown at the Egyptian Theatre and the Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library. Harlow has partnered with the Park City Film Series to show festival selections during its regular weekend screening times.

The festival will draw composers, filmmakers and film music lovers from around the world, making Park City "Film City" once again – except on a smaller scale and minus the snow, clogged cell phone networks and hordes of PIB (people in black).

"It makes Park City that much more of a destination for people who are interested in film," Harlow says. Now that the festival is set apart from Sundance, she says the focus will be on developing it into an event that attracts tourists from around the world.

Aside from its industry appeal, Harlow hopes the new format will draw many more locals than the festival has in past years. The unofficial motto is "Films you can get into," she says. "We would just love for Park City to come enjoy it."

The purpose of the festival is to give as many composers and filmmakers as possible a chance to share their work and generate feedback. "It’s a different kind of festival in that people can immerse themselves not just in film but also in music," Harlow says.

The PCMFM started in 2004 as Harlow’s brainchild, with inspiration from L.A. film composer Mark Governor, the founder of the Sundance Music Café, and Michael Rogers, a music supervisor and film music writer. Harlow had been recording film music for years and she was eager to share her passion with filmmakers, composers and others who shared her enthusiasm.

Harlow had plenty of experience to draw from in her efforts to get a festival off the ground. She founded the Park City International Music Festival in 1983, which she co-directs with husband Russell, who is also a classical musician.

The PCMFM accepts both independent and studio-sponsored films. The categories are feature films, documentaries, short films, and performance/experimental films. Awards for the best use of music in each category will be conferred by a panel of judges.

Harlow recommends that people attend a variety of films so they can compare the music experiences – especially those from different parts of the world. Among the submissions are films from Beirut, Israel, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Tibet and Africa. "What I found while I was listening to and watching the films is the correlations between how people use music to express themselves personally and politically," Harlow says.

The films cover a huge array of topics, from music activism in Africa to the desperate political situation in Burma. "The impact and effectiveness of the music in the film is always the main criteria. They’re all chosen because of the music," Harlow clarifies.

The festival will also feature special events including a composers’ panel at the Egyptian Theatre, a didgeridoo demonstration, and a concert with Chris Valenti, an L.A.-based singer-songwriter.

As the festival moves forward in its new time frame, Harlow plans to expand opportunities for live performances, seminars, educational outreach, exhibits and panels. "This is just a sampling of what we will be doing in the future and on a much larger scale," she says.

As the pilot year for the new time frame, she hopes to gather lots of feedback from filmmakers, composers and audiences. "There is so much we can do with this festival – ways to grow and ways to increase the awareness of the impact music has in film, television, and even our daily lives. We are looking to the composers and filmmakers themselves to help us design how this festival develops," she says.

Each day of the festival will feature about 15 to 20 films of different lengths and genres between 9 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there will be two locations and twice as many films.

Tickets for screenings are $10 regular admission (per film or shorts group) or $5 for Summit County locals and students. Day passes are available for $30 and an all-week, all-access pass can be purchased for $200. Tickets and passes are available on the festival’s website or at the door prior to show times.

Volunteers are needed to help out at screenings and festival events. Those interested in volunteering should contact Harlow at lharlow@pcfmf or 649-5309. For more information about the PCFMF and to view the full schedule, visit http://www.parkcityfilmmusicfestival.com.


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