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Strength in Vulnerability

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Multi award-winning documentarian Duncan Cowles will premiere his first feature-length project at Sheffield DocFest this summer. The film is called Silent Men and it explores the stigma and taboo surrounding male mental health in the UK. It’s a project that digs deep into our notions of masculinity and how such societal pressures hold men back from opening up about their emotions. What are the consequences of keeping them bottled up? And how does it feel to express these long-suppressed feelings and receive support? Today, Duncan explores how these questions – paired with his own desire to get better at being vulnerable – served as the starting point for this documentary. Read on to learn more about his experience doing group therapy at a men’s retreat; what he wants to achieve with Silent Men as well as the personal significance of making his short Outlets (2023), which won the prize for Best Editing at ASFF 2023.

ASFF: It’s exciting to hear that Silent Men, your first feature-length film, is set to premier at DocFest this summer! Could you give us an introduction to the film?
DC:
Silent Men is a (hopefully moving and entertaining) journey through male mental health. It’s part road trip, part therapy as I travel across primarily Northern parts of the UK and ask men how they deal with their emotions. I think it explores aspects of masculinity that are often little discussed in an open and honest way. The film is underpinned by my deep personal motivation to get better at opening up to my family and loved ones since it’s something I’ve always struggled with and could feel myself getting worse at as I aged. So, we also see my own personal journey as the narrative of making the film itself plays out on screen.

ASFF: What sparked the idea for this project?
DC:
I think a deep frustration and worry about my own uselessness at being able to open up and show my feelings to loved ones. Around the time that the idea came about (2016-ish), there was a bit of a surge of male mental health stuff in the UK. Lots of statistics were being flagged about men and mental health. For example, research shows that avoiding or hiding your emotions can be linked to dark outcomes, such as suicide, and that suicide was the biggest killer of men under the age of 50.

Around that time, I also became aware of how many people in my own life – or who I knew in some way – had battled with these things, and had also struggled with the same issues surrounding opening up. It frightened me just how bad the statistics with men were in the UK – and so I decided to do a film about it.

ASFF: Male mental health is at the heart of this documentary. How do you approach this topic?
DC:
I think the stats and themes around male mental health are very uncomfortable for people to talk about. With that in mind, I was keen to make a film that felt accessible. I wanted it to contain a lot of humour in addition to the more serious moments. So, from the get-go I wanted this film to feel fun and like something you’d actually want to watch, rather than some doom-and-gloom documentary about mental health. That way, hopefully more people will see it and it will potentially make more of an impact.

ASFF: Could you share with us some of the themes that came up after interviewing men on this road trip? What are your reflections on the experience?
DC:

When the Light Breaks, Rúnar Rúnarsson’s vision

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OFFICIAL SELECTION
By Charlotte Pavard, published on 15.05.2024

 

WHEN THE LIGHT BREAKS © Compass Film
For the opening of the Un Certain Regard selection, the Debussy theatre welcomes the Icelandic director Rúnar Rúnarsson with Ljósbrot (When the Light Breaks) : a subtle film about mourning and how to approach it, which was originally a short film.

 

What inspired you to begin work on this film?

Ever since experiencing the loss of a friend as a young man, I wanted to deal with the emotions I experienced the day it happened, by telling a universal story. Another recent loss in my life re-awoke that urge, and the storyline became more concrete.

My aim was to create a narrative or image that encompasses the complex feelings on a day of losing someone unexpectedly. Reality is altered and the future changes in an instant. The film takes that moment and expands it. It unfolds in a short period of time in which the space between contradicting emotions is narrow, when laughing turns into crying, and beauty coexists with sorrow.

 

Please describe your working method and the atmosphere on set. 

I want my sets to be calm and focused. Everything should be as well prepared as possible. This kind of preparation ensures freedom the moment the camera rolls, but of course, not everything can be controlled beforehand.

In Iceland, we have to deal with all kinds of challenges, because we are on a remote island with a tiny population. Many things are not readily available, and we often have to rely on last-minute solutions to problems. On top of it, the weather is very unreliable, making outdoor filming something that has to be approached with an open mind. These challenges also mean that people are resilient and nimble to react. On set, this translates into quick and almost wordless interactions. My crew was small and everyone was tuned to the task at hand, enabling us to catch unexpected moments.

 

Please share a few words about your actors.

All the actors in our film are immensely talented and they were a great joy to work with. They kept the perfect balance between professionalism and playfulness, and they were extremely dedicated and hardworking. Our main actress, Elín Hall, can convey a wide variety of emotions with barely perceptible changes of expression. She embodied both the strength and tenderness I was looking for, and her ability to show rather than tell provided the essence for the character of Una. The ability to convey the unsaid is equally strong with both Katla Njálsdóttir and Mikael Kaaber, the actors supporting Una. Together they formed the kernel of intensity that propels the narrative without too much dialogue.

What did you learn during the course of making this film?

This film is my first project after the pandemic. After three years of relative solitude in which the story evolved and I was in close contact with only a handful of people, finally making the film was a joyful reminder of the energies that are released when working together with other people. I rediscovered that filmmaking is essentially a communal undertaking; it can’t be done alone.

 

What would you like people to remember from your film?

Una, our main character, is an outsider in the events that unfold around her, even though she is in fact at their center. Because of a secret she carries, she can’t claim the space she deserves in the grief that she experiences. Una has to make space for everyone else’s em

ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL + CREATIVE CONFERENCE ANNOUNCES 2024 AWARD WINNERS AND EVENT RESULTS

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ATLANTA, GA (May 17, 2024) — The 48th annual Atlanta Film Festival + Creative Conference (ATLFF) is proud to announce the award winners for the 2024 festival, which took place from Thursday, April 25 - Sunday, May 5, 2024.
Today’s announcement recognizes filmmakers in 15 categories for their achievements and cinematic excellence. Winners of the Narrative Short, Animated Short and Documentary Short Jury Awards not only proudly took home their awards, but now also qualify for the 2024 Academy Awards®. Now in its fifth decade, ATLFF is one of only a handful of film festivals worldwide that is Academy Award-qualifying in all three categories (live-action short, animation short, and documentary short subject). 

Most award winners were chosen by distinguished jurors from all backgrounds across the film industry. The Audience Awards were determined by in-person attendees. 

This year, Michael Showalter, director of “The Idea of You” was presented with the Rebel Award. The Rebel Award honors someone who has shunned the typical industry expectations and paved their own path, in defiance of both norms and naysayers. This award is inspired by Atlantans who haven’t been afraid to break the mold, speak out and create change.

Additionally, Bill Duke, Director of “DEEP COVER” was honored with the Ossie Davis Award for Innovation in Filmmaking. Named in honor of one of Georgia’s most beloved and distinctive film talents, this award recognizes creative excellence and dynamic contributions to the art of cinema while also promoting human dignity and social justice.

With 118 countries represented in the selections, more than 24% of films had ties to Georgia filmmakers.  The 142 total creative works from submissions featured diverse filmmakers who continue to uplift voices and stories from around the world. Of the selections, 49% are directed by filmmakers who identify as female or non-binary, and 59% are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC). Eleven Marquee screenings combined Hollywood star power with the best of independent film. 

Continuing with a hybrid model of in-person screenings and digital screenings, the 2024 event drew in over 20,000 total attendees. Over 16,000 people attended 153 screenings, panels, and events held primarily at The Plaza Theatre and Tara Theatre with select events at the Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Fox Theatre and Fulton County Airport in addition to a variety of restaurants and bars across the city, during the 11-day festival. An additional nearly 4,000 people streamed screenings from ATLFF’s virtual catalog of 142 films and 13 virtual Creative Conference workshops, panels, or Masterclasses. 

With over a dozen of the in-person screenings selling out, the virtual presentation of the film catalog also proved to be a success. More than three months’ worth of content was streamed during the festival, with viewers in 32 U.S. states, and 10 countries across four inhabited continents. 

A full list of jury members with brief biographies is included below, as well as film information for all award winners and honorable mentions.

The 48th annual Atlanta Film Festival + Creative Conference took place from April 25 - May 5, 2024. ATLFF is currently accepting submissions for the 49th annual festival, which is confirmed to take place April 24 - May 4, 2025.

More information can be found at https://www.atlantafilmfestival.com/submit.   

2024 ATLANTA FILM FESTIVAL AWARD WINNERS

SPECIAL AWARDS

The Rebel Award:

Presented ToWinner: Michael Showalter, Director of “The Idea of You”


Stockfish 2024 announces this year’s Shortfish winners!

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DOCUMENTARY

 

 

Empath Fridges Rakel Jónsdóttir

What have we lost as a society? And how do we bring it back? How can we rebuild values as a community?  With an academic background and artistic approach the director has made  an inspiring and thought provoking film that touches upon the subject of humanity in urban society. Can we heal something that we have lost via sharing food on a daily basis with people we have never met?  Empath Fridges is a research based short documentary that with an open and artistic approach of the director Rakel Jónsdóttir, sheds light on the culture of empath fridges in Iceland. The film is a pleasure to watch and leaves the audience meditating on small solutions to enormous problems, such as the one of food waste.

NARRATIVE

Stockfish 2024 announces this year’s Shortfish winners!

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312429d2-1972-d1e9-89b6-4545d377966e.png

DOCUMENTARY

 

 

Empath Fridges Rakel Jónsdóttir

What have we lost as a society? And how do we bring it back? How can we rebuild values as a community?  With an academic background and artistic approach the director has made  an inspiring and thought provoking film that touches upon the subject of humanity in urban society. Can we heal something that we have lost via sharing food on a daily basis with people we have never met?  Empath Fridges is a research based short documentary that with an open and artistic approach of the director Rakel Jónsdóttir, sheds light on the culture of empath fridges in Iceland. The film is a pleasure to watch and leaves the audience meditating on small solutions to enormous problems, such as the one of food waste.

NARRATIVE

Interview with Director Olmo Schnabel, Actor Darío Yazebek Bernal & EP Jeremy O'Harris for PET SHOP DAYS (2023) @ SXSW

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                               Interview With Director Olmo Schnabel, Actor Darío Yazebek Bernal & EP Jeremy O'Harris for PET SHOP DAYS (2023) @ SXSW

Olmo Schnabel's directorial debut PET SHOP DAYS screened as a Festival Favorite at SXSW, 2024. The film stars Jack Irv, Darío Yazebek Bernal, alongside Willem Dafoe, Peter Sarsgaard and more.

Impulsive black sheep Alejandro (Bernal) and pet store employee Jack (Irv) enter a whirlwind romance that sends them down the rabbit hole of depravity in Manhattan’s underworld.


In an interview at SXSW with director Olmo Schnabel, actor Darío Yazebek Bernal, EP Jeremy O'Harris, here is what they had to say:

Can you tell us a little bit about the film? Was it difficult to get off the ground?

OLMO: It was a collaboration among friends, and yes was a difficult movie to make. Obviously when you’re not part of the industry and you’re doing something that might seem challenging or on the periphery of what people will accept, there is a lot of trial and error. It was a kind of search party to find the right producing partner to help me get this movie made. It wasn’t until I met Francesco Melzi d’Eril that I found a producer who was very excited and motivated to put this film together. I think because he’s from another cultural background, he was willing to take some risks. Whereas if you go meet with an agency or head of a studio in the US, they have a mandate to fill that this film didn’t fit into. Someone like Francesco is willing to bet on young filmmakers, and to take a risk. With Francesco I met Jeremy who was very instrumental. He helped me meet other people who were super useful for getting this out into the world. It was important to create a dialogue and have the support system I needed, because it wasn’t easy.

JEREMY: Olmo had worked a long time and garnered a lot of financing before I got involved. It was a real mountain to climb getting the movie made. Francesco is a great champion of Italian cinema and independent cinema. He’s worked a lot with Luca Guadagnino. I think that in Francesco, Olmo found a real partner who could read the universe he was building.  

 

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the story? Is it based on true events?

OLMO: Jack Irv, the lead in the movie who also co-wrote it, based it off a friendship he had with a friend of ours named Alejandro. In its core it’s based off a relationship he was very excited and surprised about. I believe it’s more of a fantasy of what they could do together than what they weren’t doing together. It’s a mixture between the attraction of a real relationship but also that kind of naïve childlike curiosity of what could happen if they went on this crazy adventure together. And Jack had that kind of spontaneous completely loose and free story that didn’t need to be hyper realistic. It was much more like if something was going to happen, then it’s destiny. Like if you’re going to win the lottery, you’re going to win it; I’m not going to explain to you how the ticket ended up in your hand. Similarly, these two characters literally

The Ottawa International Animation Festival unveils its 2024 poster designed by animator, filmmaker and musician, Lei Lei.

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The Ottawa International Animation Festival unveils its 2024 poster designed by animator, filmmaker and musician, Lei Lei.͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ ͏‌ 

The OIAF 2024 poster is a playful jaunt through animation

 The Ottawa I

Sundance Film Festival CDMX 2024 by Cinépolis announces the official program for its first edition

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The Sundance Film Festival CDMX 2024 will take place from April 25th to 28th at Cinépolis Diana and Cinépolis VIP Miyana, along with projections at Cinépolis VIP Perisur, Cinépolis VIP Mitikah and Cinépolis VIP Satélite.
For four days, 12 feature films and six Mexican short films will be screened

Mexico City, April 2nd, 2024Cinépolis, the leading theatrical exhibition company in Mexico and Latin America, and the Sundance Institute, the nonprofit organization behind the world-famous Sundance Film Festival whose year-round work is dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences, announced the 12 feature films and the Mexican short film program that will comprise the inaugural program of the Sundance Film Festival CDMX 2024. The showcase will take place from April 25th to 28th at Cinépolis Diana and Cinépolis VIP Miyana, along with projections at Cinépolis VIP Perisur, Cinépolis VIP Mitikah and Cinépolis VIP Satélite. The Festival’s first edition in Mexico City will bring together audiences who will be a part of Sundance’s legacy and Cinépolis’s mission of empowering new stories and innovative independent artists.

Among the feature films that will be presented during Sundance Film Festival CDMX 2024 are In The Summers, the winner of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic Competition, and Daughters, the winner of the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary and Festival Favorite Award. Other films that will be presented during the festival include the crowd-pleasers Your Monster and Love Lies Bleeding. There will also be a special screening of the 2024 Oscar winner for Best Documentary Feature: 20 Days in Mariupol. The opening night film will be the documentary FRIDA, directed by Carla Gutiérrez, who was awarded the 2024 Sundance Film Festival Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award for U.S. Documentary. 

A program of Mexican short films that have been presented over the years at Sundance Film Festival has been curated by the Sundance Programming team and will be showcased during the festival. The program is comprised of six titles, including Al Motociclista no le Cabe la Felicidad en su Traje (Fiction), La Odisea Espeleológica de Sócrates (Animation), Chica de Fábrica (Drama), among others. 

“The selection of feature films we’ve invited to this first Sundance Film Festival CDMX is a bold, exciting group of discoveries from the Sundance Film Festival,” commented Eugene Hernandez, Director, Sundance Film Festival and Public Programming. “We know that Mexico City audiences will be moved, inspired, and entertained by the originality and creativity coming from a visionary group of new filmmakers. We can’t wait to gather together in Cinepolis cinemas next month to celebrate independent cinema – we hope to see you there!”

The Sundance Film Festival CDMX 2024 goes beyond a showcase of films; it is a gathering point for creativity, innovation, and exploration in the world of independent cinema,” commented Alejandro Ramírez, Cinépolis CEO. “We are thrilled to bring this celebration of cinema to Mexico City and to provide a platform for filmmakers and audiences to engage in meaningful conversations about the power of film to inspire, educate, and transform.”

This program is set to be a can’t-miss event for ci

Interview With Director Olmo Schnabel, Actor Darío Yazebek Bernal & EP Jeremy O'Harris for PET SHOP DAYS (2023) @ SXSW

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                                                                                                  Interview With Director Olmo Schnabel, Actor Darío Yazebek Bernal & EP Jeremy O'Harris for PET SHOP DAYS (2023) @ SXSW

Olmo Schnabel's directorial debut PET SHOP DAYS screened as a Festival Favorite at SXSW 2024. The film stars Jack Irv and Darío Yazebek Bernal, alongside Willem Dafoe, Peter Sarsgaard and more.

Impulsive black sheep Alejandro (Bernal) and pet store employee Jack (Irv) enter a whirlwind romance that sends them down the rabbit hole of depravity in Manhattan’s underworld.


In an interview at SXSW with director Olmo Schnabel, actor Darío Yazebek Bernal, EP Jeremy O'Harris, here is what they had to say:

Can you tell us a little bit about the film? Was it difficult to get off the ground?

OLMO: It was a collaboration among friends, and yes was a difficult movie to make. Obviously when you’re not part of the industry and you’re doing something that might seem challenging or on the periphery of what people will accept, there is a lot of trial and error. It was a kind of search party to find the right producing partner to help me get this movie made. It wasn’t until I met Francesco Melzi d’Eril that I found a producer who was very excited and motivated to put this film together. I think because he’s from another cultural background, he was willing to take some risks. Whereas if you go meet with an agency or head of a studio in the US, they have a mandate to fill that this film didn’t fit into. Someone like Francesco is willing to bet on young filmmakers, and to take a risk. With Francesco I met Jeremy who was very instrumental. He helped me meet other people who were super useful for getting this out into the world. It was important to create a dialogue and have the support system I needed, because it wasn’t easy.

JEREMY: Olmo had worked a long time and garnered a lot of financing before I got involved. It was a real mountain to climb getting the movie made. Francesco is a great champion of Italian cinema and independent cinema. He’s worked a lot with Luca Guadagnino. I think that in Francesco, Olmo found a real partner who could read the universe he was building.  

 

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the story? Is it based on true events?

OLMO: Jack Irv, the lead in the movie who also co-wrote it, based it off a friendship he had with a friend of ours named Alejandro. In its core it’s based off a relationship he was very excited and surprised about. I believe it’s more of a fantasy of what they could do together than what they weren’t doing together. It’s a mixture between the attraction of a real relationship but also that kind of naïve childlike curiosity of what could happen if they went on this crazy adventure together. And Jack had that kind of spontaneous completely loose and free story that didn’t need to be hyper realistic. It was much more like if someth

Off the beaten track, March 2024

Rick W 0 85

I’ve only done about three useful things in my life – I would like to do more but having no talent for anything is a bit of a barrier. Still, if I can do one useful thing through this website then it’s to highlight great music that you might not otherwise find out about, and here’s my latest attempt. You won’t find a better score either on or off the beaten track lately than Stormskerry Maja, a Finnish period drama with music by Lauri Porra. If I tell you that he’s the great grandson of Sibelius and that the talent has clearly flowed down through the genes then hopefully that’s an exciting start, sorry, I mean an exciting Finnish.

The music is an outstanding effort, a portrait of a difficult and challenging life on a remote, stormy island but one which features numerous moments of exquisite beauty. Porra is clearly a master of the orchestra: whether it’s dark suspense/action music for the full symphonic breadth in a cue like “Imperial Entanglement” or a light shimmering breeze for string quartet in “We Are Married Now”, the emotional depth he gives this music is remarkable.

There’s a real meaning to the music – it’s written and performed with passion and not a note is wasted. In film music terms I think of Bernard Herrmann at his most romantic but really the comparison should be with classical music (I’m too much of an ignoramus to say exactly what). Listen to the cello dancing in the three “Cello Interludes” – the soaring, powerful “Bonfire” – the gentle piano of “Firstborn”. Best of all, I think, the pair of tracks called “Driftwood” – the first presenting a theme for piano and string quartet, the second the same theme for the full orchestra – it’s a dazzlingly beautiful, virtuoso display of emotional writing and playing, quite the highpoint. Porra’s music is genuinely brilliant and I couldn’t recommend this one more highly – it’s only March but I’d be amazed if this doesn’t end up on lots of people’s best-of lists come the end of the year, if only they hear it.

Go For Grandma is a short film in which a boy is allowed to escape the horrors of his home life by listening to stories told by his grandma, stories of dragons and unicorns and fantasy worlds. Fabrizio Mancinelli’s delightful score takes as its inspiration the classic fantasy scores of the 1980s and is everything you might want a score of that description to be. Warm, melodic orchestral music is the order of the day – the emotional main theme is playful and heroic and that’s just the start.

The composer’s score is essentially a series of mini episodes – each piece doing something new, from the brassy blast of “Alone in NYC” through the twinkly “Magic is Real” (which sounds exactly like you might expect it to) and the incredibly warm-hearted “Grandma’s Painting”. It’s not quite all joy and happiness – there’s a little edge to some of the action later on – and that makes it all the more well-rounded. It’s a short score, but it’s as big a short score as you could imagine – think Alan Silvestri, think Bruce Broughton, nothing specific but that style. Definitely one to check out.

Until We Meet Again is a 2022 film whose score has only just been issued. A mixture of ghost story, romance and music, it sounds like it must have been a great palette on which the composer, Emir

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