Pictures from the 2016 Krakow FMF, which featured live performances of the scores from Sicario and Drive.

Now in its ninth year, Krakow’s Film and Music Festival (FMF) brought together film composers and music professionals for a series of masterclasses and concerts in the heart of the city’s historic old town. This year’s festival ran from May 24-30, with an additional concert concluding its musical showcase on May 31.

The festival kicked off with a special distinction award for Roman Polanski, who was honoured by the Polish Filmmakers Association (SPF) for his contribution to Polish cinema. The 82-year-old Krakow native, who survived the Nazi’s Second World War takeover of Poland, leapt to the stage to receive his accolade and said: “I’m just a boy from Krakow, I never thought I would get this far.” 

Polanski is back in the headlines this week after the Polish government said it will appeal a court’s decision to block the film-maker’s extradition to the US to face charges relating to his 1977 conviction for underage sex. The ruling could come as early as August.  

Alexandre Desplat was also in attendance. The Oscar-winning composer’s scores for Polanski’s most recent films Venus In Fur, Carnage and The Ghost Writer were played in the concert held in Polanski’s honour. Desplat was awarded with the Kilar Prize for his significant contribution to film music. 

Other highlights included the AlterFMF concert, which brought the electronic scores of composers such as Cliff Martinez (Drive, The Neon Demon) and Johann Johannsson (Sicario) to orchestral life.

“We put a lot of effort into building the programme,” said artistic director Robert Piaskowski. “Our aim is to educate people of all ages and interests, both in culture and music.” 


There were nine concerts in total with the AlterFMF gala raising the most eyebrows for its presentation of electronic sounds within an orchestral framework. Berlin-based composer and orchestra arranger Stefan Behrisch transformed Martinez’s scores for the Nicolas Winding Refn trio Drive, Only God Forgives and The Neon Demon.

Johannsson was in attendance for the live performance of his Oscar-nominated Sicario score, which reverberated around Krakow’s 16,000-seat arena. 

At the festival’s animation gala, the scores for British composer John Powell’s How To Train Your Dragon and Harry Gregson-Williams’ Shrek, as well as Brazilian composer Heitor Pereira’s The Angry Birds Movie soundtrack, were all performed live.


The blurred line between classic symphonic soundtracks, electronic layering and sound engineering were a key topic of discussion throughout the festival. 

Martinez, Joseph Trapanese (Oblivion) and Dave Porter (Breaking Bad, Preacher) discussed electronic versus orchestral composition on one panel, agreeing that both are necessary, depending on the project.  

Martinez, whose minimal, synth-driven scores for Solaris and Drive have been both acclaimed and emulated, attributed his sound to software plug-ins, instruments such as the steel drums and collaborations with open-minded directors such as Steven Soderbergh and Winding Refn. 

“I’ve been lucky,” said Martinez. “These directors put music in the forefront of their films, and are excited to try new things. You often can’t do that on big-budget studio films.” 


In addition to awards for Polanski and Desplat, Dan Carlin was given the FMF Ambassador Award for his work as an Emmy Award-winning music editor and supervisor and for his advocacy of music education. Carlin helped develop both the Sundance Institute and UCLA’s film scoring programmes. 

The Young Talent Award (YTA) was awarded to Dutch composer Joep Sporck. The prize was given to him by Gregson-Williams, who helped judge the shortlist of 28 young composers. 

“Educating young composers is at the heart of this festival,” said Piaskowski, highlighting previous winners Matthijas Kieboom and Jan Sanejko, who both assisted Diego Navarro on Capture The Flag, and Antonio Di Iorio, who is now working with John Williams. 

Next year will mark the festival’s ten-year anniversary, with Piaskowski planning ten concerts to tie in with Krakow’s abundant cultural events.

The FMF is the second largest event within Krakow’s crowded line-up of summer festivals, following the pop music festival Krakow Live.