Breckenridge International Festival of Arts closes with ‘The Triplets of Belleville’ | SummitDaily.com

Breckenridge International Festival of Arts closes with ‘The Triplets of Belleville’

Erica Marciniec
Special to the Daily
The Oscar-nominated, cycling-themed, animated comedy film ‘The Triplets of Belleville’ comes to the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge on Sunday, Aug. 23 as part of the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts. The act includes a screening along with a live performance of the hot jazz score by Benoît Charest, who will conduct an orchestra of nine musicians, himself included, in concert with the film. It will be the first stop on the new act’s fall-winter tour, and its Colorado premiere.
Special to the Daily |

if you go

What: ‘The Triplets of Belleville’ film with live orchestra

When: 7:30-9:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23

Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge

Cost: Tickets range from $10 for kids to $45 depending on seating.

What: Breckenridge International Festival of Arts closing night party

When: 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 23

Where: Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave., Breckenridge

Cost: Free, with a cash bar

BIFA schedule

Saturday, Aug. 22

All day — Art installation, Amy Scofield, Illinois Creek Trail

All day — Art installations, Steuart Bremner and Terry Talty, Iowa Hill and Moonstone trails

8 a.m. to 10 p.m. — “The Blue Trees,” an installation by Konstantin Dimopoulos, Blue River Plaza

9:30-10 a.m. — Trail Mix concert with Dru Griffin, Iowa Hill Trail

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — ARTCRANK, Old Masonic Hall

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — “Abound,” an installation by Julie Hughes, Old Masonic Hall

2:30-3 p.m. — Trail Mix concert with Russick Smith, Moonstone Trail

4-4:30 p.m. — Trail Mix concert with Russick Smith, Illinois Creek Trail

4-4:30 p.m. — Trail Mix concert with Cody Wayne, Iowa Hill Trail

6 p.m. — Local Folk concert, Festival Square

7:30 p.m. — Post Paradise concert, Festival Square

7:30 p.m. — Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass, Riverwalk Center

Sunday, Aug. 23

All day — Art installation, Amy Scofield, Illinois Creek Trail

All day — Art installations, Steuart Bremner and Terry Talty, Iowa Hill and Moonstone trails

8 a.m. to 10 p.m. — “The Blue Trees,” an installation by Konstantin Dimopoulos, Blue River Plaza

9:30-10 a.m. — Trail Mix concert with Dru Griffin & Friends, Iowa Hill Trail

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — ARTCRANK, Old Masonic Hall

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. — “Abound,” an installation by Julie Hughes, Old Masonic Hall

2:30-3 p.m. — Trail Mix concert with Jon Gamache, Moonstone Trail

4-4:30 p.m. — Trail Mix concert with Dave Halchak, Illinois Creek Trail

6 p.m. — Jon Gamache concert, Festival Square

7:30 p.m. — Chemistry Club concert, Festival Square

7:30 p.m. — “The Triplets of Belleville” cine-concert with Benoit Charest, composer-conductor, Riverwalk Center

9:30 p.m. — Breckenridge International Festival of Arts Closing Night Party, Riverwalk Center

For more details on locations and a full schedule of events for the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts, visit www.breckcreate.org/bifa.

The Breckenridge International Festival of Arts celebrates its closing night with a screening of “The Triplets of Belleville,” a wild animated film about a Tour de France cyclist who is kidnapped by henchmen and taken to the metropolis of Belleville. First released in 2003, the film quickly garnered a cult following. This year, it hits the road accompanied by a live, nine-piece orchestra led by Canadian composer and conductor Benoît Charest, who wrote the film’s original score. Breckenridge will host the first stop on the tour, which is also the act’s Colorado premiere, at the Riverwalk Center on Sunday, Aug. 23.

“The Triplets of Belleville” (PG-13) is a feature-length animated comedy film written and directed by French animator Sylvain Chomet. The primarily wordless film harkens back to cartoons of an earlier age, opening with a racy depiction of the American-born French actress and singer Josephine Baker dancing topless in her banana costume, and Fred Astaire being gobbled by his dancing shoes.

The storyline centers on the elderly Madame Souza, who must rescue her grandson Champion, a Tour de France cyclist, from the French mafia after henchmen kidnap him along with two other cyclists, spiriting them away to Belleville so they can race on a stationary cycle contraption while mafia members gamble on the outcome. The nearsighted grandmother amasses an unlikely crew of rescuers, including Champion’s faithful dog Bruno and three aged jazz-era music hall singers — the triplets of Belleville, from which the film takes its name.

The 2003 movie was nominated for two Academy Awards — Best Animated Film and Best Original Song. The Oscar-nominated song was “Belleville Rendez-vous” by Charest, who wrote the film’s entire jazz score for a soundtrack that represents a modern take on the 1930’s Parisian music scene.

Composing it was a long process, according to Charest, who completed much of the score before the animation was undertaken. “A lot of the characters on the film play some sort of musical instrument, so the music had to exist before,” he said. “I wrote the music beforehand and they animated on top of it.” After the animation was complete, he scored the background music.

For this year’s tour, Charest leads the nine-piece Le Terrible Orchestre de Belleville, which includes a couple musicians from the original recording. About 90 percent of the music they will play is from the original film, with some enhancements here and there, according to Charest.

“When the film comes in — even the tune on the radio — we play it,” he said. “The whole chase section at the end — we play it.” That includes everything from vocals to minor spoken pieces in French. Charest not only conducts but performs too, including guitar, vocals, sound effects, even tap dancing. “I wouldn’t call myself Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly,” he said, “but there’s a part where the ladies under the bridge do a bit of a gumboot thing and we do the sounds to it.”

Charest came up with the idea to deliver a live show in concert with the screening two years ago. “It’s a trend now, I would say, to actually play music live to a film. I think a very good way of getting your music out there is to combine the musical score and the film, especially in the case of ‘The Triplets,’ which is very musical,” he said. He launched the concept at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 2013, where it was well-received. Afterwards, the group performed several concerts in Quebec, followed by Los Angeles last year.

The upcoming tour, which gets an early start in Breckenridge, consists of approximately 20 performances, among them stops in Brazil and Asia, according to Charest. “People like it. It’s been successful,” he said, adding that the tour is not a business venture. “You don’t bring nine musicians on the road to make money,” he said. “I’m just pursuing it to see what happens.”

“I have been a fan of this project since the film was released in 2003,” said Robb Woulfe, CEO and president of Breckenridge Creative Arts or BreckCreate, the nonprofit organization that is putting on the arts festival. A few years ago, he brought “The Triplets” to Michigan as part of an outdoor film series at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, which he led for a decade before coming to Breckenridge.

“I was amazed to see the sort of cult following the film had — a diverse audience from cycling culture to animation fans,” Woulfe said. “I knew they had been workshopping the project to include live orchestra, and the way the schedule was playing out here we knew the USA Pro Challenge would be blowing through town during the festival. We have a huge cycling culture here, and we were excited to showcase our new equipment at the Riverwalk Center, so we decided to bring the act to Breckenridge.”

Not only does “The Triplets” speak to cyclists, but it also adds a jazz component to the arts festival, which aims to present a diversity of genres. “I’m a big fan of vintage jazz, retro swing, Django Reinhardt style,” Woulfe said. “You can enjoy the animation but you can also enjoy some very fine musicians accompanying with Benoît’s score.”

“The Triplets of Belleville” comes to the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts in partnership with the Breckenridge Film Festival. “We are really excited to help promote this event,” said Janice Kurbjun, executive director of the film festival. A couple arts organizations in town had been kicking around the idea of combining film with live music, according to Kurbjun, who was excited to see BreckCreate take the lead in launching this type of show. “It’ might be the start of something new for Breckenridge,” she said.

“The film is a piece of art in and of itself,” Kurbjun said regarding the performance. “To add the music to it is going to be an incredible experience.”

“It’s a big deal it’s coming to Breckenridge,” said Woulfe, since the act will be playing a number of leading performing arts center series in the coming year.

“I think people are sensitive to things that are well done,” Charest said. “The animation is beautiful, all hand-drawn. The characters are particular and have some depth to them. We put a lot of art and imagination into that. It’s odd, but it’s refreshing at the same time.”

Performing the score live allows audiences to be part of a process that in some way mirrors the process used to put the original film and soundtrack together, according to Charest. “To see live instruments, it’s a rare thing these days,” he said.

A party for the arts festival’s closing night follows the Riverwalk Center performance.


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