Reality Check Case Studies

SoundTrack_Cologne 20:  Reality Check - Case Studies

SoundTrack_Cologne 20: Reality Check - Case Studies

SoundTrack_Cologne presents four high profile case studies in which music plays a significant and exemplary role – and in which the composer had a special responsibility: All Quiet on the Western Front, Holy Spider, The Swarm, and The Ordinaries. How do you compose the soundtrack for such a film or a TV series and still give it a personal signature - but without repeating yourself? On Wednesday, 21 June, at SoundTrack_Cologne four renowned composers will give their thoughts on the matter and share their experiences in the four case studies: Oscar and BAFTA Award winner Volker Bertelmann (All Quiet on the Western Front); European and German Film Award winner Dascha Dauenhauer (The Swarm); Fabian Zeidler, composer of The Ordinaries, plus the film’s director Sophie Linnenbaum; and Martin Dirkov, composer of Holy Spider.


Reality Check Case Studies
Wednesday 21 June 2023 · Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Robert Ellscheid Saal

Holy Spider (Film)
Composer Martin Dirkov

The Ordinaries (Film)
Composer Fabian Zeidler, Director Sophie Linnenbaum

The Swarm (Der Schwarm) (Series)
Composer Dascha Dauenhauer

All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues) (Film)
Composer Volker Bertelmann

Holy Spider - Martin Dirkov

Martin Dirkow. ©Carsten Snejbjerg

Holy Spider - Martin Dirkov

Wednesday 21.06.23 - 10:30-11:30

Holy Spider, directed by Ali Abbasi, premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival 2022 and won Best Actress. Avoiding all possible cliche traps the score by Martin Dirkov plays an important role to let the historic events have meaning for today. It was nominated for the HARPA Award 2023.

The film tells the story of a journalist investigating a series of murders of sex workers in the holy Iranian city of Mashhad, has also been presented at major festivals like the Jerusalem Film Festival and was awarded and nominated, among others, at the Danish Film Awards and the German Film Awards. "The film is a critique of Iranian society, as the killer is an extremely religious man who is highly respected by the people," said Abbasi about his film, which is based on a real-life story.

Martin Dirkov

Martin Dirkov, the composer of the Holy Spider score, has collaborated on several projects with Ali Abbasi, among them the highly acclaimed Border. The Danish film composer, sound designer, and musician based in Copenhagen has composed music for several documentaries and feature films including Shorta by Anders Ølholm and Frederik Louis Hviid, Holiday by Isabella Eklöf, and The Charmer by Milad Alami.

The artist is also known for his sound design for film, commercials, animation, and art films and quite often blends music and sound design on these if appropriate. 

The Ordinaries - Fabian Zeidler

Fabian Zeidler. ©Urs Hecht

The Ordinaries - Fabian Zeidler

Wednesday 21.06.23 - 12:00-13:00

“An ingenious idea” (SZ) - The critically acclaimed The Ordinaries, directed by Sophie Linnenbaum, is probably one of the most creative German films ever and an international festival success. The film about the film world shows a girl's ambitions to try to be a leading rather than a supporting character: Paula goes on a journey, revealing with satire how the world of cinema is full of hierarchies that force many to be just outcasts.

Fabian Zeidler’s (*1991) music plays an essential role in the film - his first feature film - and therefore Zeidler received the Rolf-Hans Müller Film Music Award 2022 for his score for The Ordinaries. The Jury particularly emphasized the combination of different styles and the changes in the music.

Fabian Zeidler

Coming from a drummer's background Zeidler has built a carrier as a composer, orchestrator and percussionist. In 2020 he won the WDR Filmscore Award at SoundTrack_Cologne. His work as an orchestrator in collaboration with Tilo Heinrich / HEIKOMUSIC includes films and TV series such as Jim Knopf und die Wilde 13 (2020), Die Wolf-Gäng (2020), Deutschstunde (2019), School of Magical Animals (2021) or Kreuzfahrt ins Gück.

In his concert pieces, Zeidler creates an ambivalent music sphere by implicating jazz-harmonic, -rhythm and -melody into his musical language. His music was played e.g. by the WDR Symphony Orchestra, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, WDR Funkhausorchester, Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg, Ensemble JungeMusik, Landesjugendensemble Neue Musik Berlin, SonarQuartett and Ensemble Kuraia in Europe, USA and Japan.

The Swarm - Dascha Dauerhauer

Dascha Dauenhauer. ©Markus Hoehn

The Swarm - Dascha Dauerhauer

Wednesday 21.06.23 - 14:30-15:30

With 18 million views in its first two weeks on ZDF-Mediathek The Swarm, the adaptation of Frank Schätzing's bestseller is positioned as the most expensive German TV series of all times. Rights to the 8-hour series, which cost 40 million Euros, have been acquired by broadcasters in several countries, including the UK and Spain.

The thriller, set in the depths of the sea where animals rise to ensure the survival of their environment amidst human threats, has been driven by showrunner Frank Doelger, producer of Game of Thrones, and six-time Emmy Award winner.

Dascha Dauenhauer's music makes a momentous contribution to the series suspense, accompanying the breathtaking action.

Dascha Dauenhauer

In 2020, before her work for Der Schwarm, Dascha Dauenhauer's (*1989) won the German Film Award and the European Film Award for Best Original Score in the film Berlin Alexanderplatz.

In addition to Berlin Alexanderplatz, other of her films are shown internationally at film festivals, among them Jibril which had its premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2018. Love Me, Fear Me was nominated for the Student Academy Awards, and one of Dauenhauer's most recent projects - Evolution by Hungarian director Kornél Mundruczó - was selected for Cannes International Film Festival 2021.

All Quiet on the Western Front - Volker Bertelmann

Volker Bertelmann. ©Carsten Sander

All Quiet on the Western Front - Volker Bertelmann

Wednesday 21.06.23 - 16:00-17:00

Director Edward Berger's All Quiet on the Western Front, a new adaptation of Erich Maria Remarque's classic World War I novel, tells the story of a young soldier struggling to survive amidst the brutality of war. Berger: "I wanted to make a film that doesn't glorify war, but shows it for what it is. This is a story about the loss of innocence and the struggle for survival".

The prestigious Netflix production was under close watch from the moment the project was announced - and it delivered: It has received 37 festival and international awards so far, including four Academy Awards (out of nine nominations) and seven BAFTA Awards.

The film's score by acclaimed pianist, composer, and experimental musician Volker Bertelmann received both the Oscar and the BAFTA Award for best composition in 2023. "Finally, it became a motif of just three notes. It sounds irregular, then it is gone again. The music doesn't hide anything, but rather emphasizes the breaks, which was important to me", Bertelmann told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Volker Bertelmann

Bertelmann, who in his solo work goes by the name Hauschka, is a uniquely innovative pianist; he is renowned both for his trademark sound, which he achieves by preparing the piano with various small objects, and his ability to improvise entire performances. His output is prodigious: he tours extensively, and has produced over twenty albums and EPs, both solo and in collaboration with others. He has worked, among many others, with the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra, where he was the artist in residence, with Múm, the Icelandic experimental musical group, and with the Grammy-winning violinist Hilary Hahn.

Bertelmann (*1966) is an active member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

His score for Lion, which he composed in collaboration with Dustin O’Halloran, was nominated for multiple awards, including Oscar for Best Original Score, Golden Globe for Best Original Score, and Best Film Music at the BAFTAs. He has provided music for several leading films and television series, including the score for Patrick Melrose, Showtime’s Emmy-and BAFTA nominated mini-series, and for Gunpowder, the HBO mini-series starring Kit Harington, and the 2020 film Ammonite, co-composed with O’Halloran, which received a spot on the Academy Awards shortlist for Best Original Score.


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