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Seattle Film Scoring Program Reaches Beijing

Since 1950, The Beijing Film Academy has trained over 4,000 film professionals, including renowned directors Chen Kaige (”Farewell My Concubine”, “Temptress Moon”, “The Emperor and the Assassin”) and Zhang Yimou (”Raise The Red Lantern”, “The Story of Qiu Ju”, “Not One Less”).

Now a small but growing program in Seattle that teaches the art of composing film scores has begun a cultural exchange program that aims to provide new learning angles to students in both institutions.

The Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program, founded in 1997 by two-time Emmy winning composer, arranger and conductor Hummie Mann, has launched an effort to provide original scores — written by students in Mann’s program — to films produced by students in Beijing.

As part of the Seattle program’s hands on approach, students have always been required to score all or part of at least one student film. Until this year, however, all these films have come from programs in the United States. By extending the program’s reach to China, Mann says, students in Beijing can also share in the invaluable experience of seeing their works scored with original musical interpretations — a true rarity for student films. At the same time, those studying under Mann in Seattle gain exposure to one of the most unique quarters of the current international film scene.

The program will provide a number of challenges for Mann and his film scoring students, such as having to determine the best style of music for films with Chinese dialogue but no accompanying English subtitles, but Mann isn’t worried about that. “Many films can tell a story even if you do not understand the language,” he says. “We are also working out logistics to have translators available to help as needed.”

Mann says the idea for this cooperative program with China occurred to him in 2001 during his first cultural exchange visit to the People’s Republic, after he and five other American artists were invited by the China Workers’ Center for International Exchange (CWCIE) in Beijing. In September of 2002, Mann headed a second delegation to China, where he spoke as a guest lecturer at The Shanghai Conservatory of Music, The Beijing Film Academy, The Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, and The Xi’an Conservatory of Music.

For more information about these institutions, visit The Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program web site at http://www.pnwfilmmusic.com and The Beijing Film Academy web site at http://www.bfa.edu.cn/ (Chinese language) or http://www.bfa.edu.cn/bfa_english/index.htm (English language).

January 2003

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