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6 March 2024

Oscar nominee Laura Karpman, composer of the jazzy music for the film 'American Fiction', recorded parts of the score in Vienna



Austria doesn't have its own production at the upcoming 96th Academy Awards, but expectations are high. The ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood will be broadcast live in Austria on public television and in cinemas. The nominations of top movies like Oppenheimer, Barbie or American Fiction were predictable and also a surprise - like the fact that Greta Gerwig was not nominated as a director. Well, Gerwig is nominated in the 'Adapted Screenplay' category. But...
Nominated or not, the Viennese are eagerly awaiting the jury's decision - especially the musicians and music technicians of Synchron Stage Vienna, where parts of composer Laura Karpman's jazzy soundtrack for the film 'American Fiction' were performed and recorded. The interplay of Karpman's musical arrangements with the actors' play, as well as the duality of the character of Thelonious 'Monk' Ellison, who plays a writer in the satirical film about the expectations of producers, publishers and audiences to conform to stereotypes, has already received positive reviews from the international press. 'American Fiction' (trailer) is one of the films that will be screened in Vienna's Gartenbau cinema on March 10th before the live stream of the Oscars. The cinema is known for the official premieres of Austrian films and has been the main venue of the Viennale film festival for decades. (Program at https://www.gartenbaukino.at/programm/programmuebersicht/oscarnacht-2024/.)

American Fiction is nominated in five categories: Jeffrey Wright (as Thelonious 'Monk' Ellison) in the category 'Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role', Sterling K. Brown for the Oscar as Best Supporting Actor, Cord Jefferson for 'Adapted Screenplay', the producers Ben LeClair, Nikos Karamigios, Cord Jefferson and Jermaine Johnson in the category 'Best Motion Picture of the Year' and Laura Karpman for the Oscar for 'Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures (Original Score)'.

Laura Karpman's music is a double reference, firstly to the main role in the film, and secondly to the musical style of jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk. On the website of the Synchron Stage project https://www.synchronstage.com/en/projects/American_Fiction, Laura Karpman especially praised the musicians for their ability to perfectly capture heartfelt emotion, romance and cool jazz for the comedy-drama.

Reading tip: The international press and the review aggregation platform Rotten Tomatoes praise the film as a brilliant satire. Laura Karpman spoke with IndieWire about the approach to composing the score, which interacts with the film's dialogues and is inspired by the style of jazz pianist Thelonious Monk: https://www.indiewire.com/features/craft/american-fiction-score-jazz-karpman-1234940347/

Images, from left: Portrait of composer Laura Karpman. Photo: Amanda Whitt. Right: Synchron Stage Vienna project members for the film 'American Fiction', from left Martin Pauser (ProTools Operator), Tristan Linton (Scoring Engineer), Marton Barka (Contractor), Marina Dimitrova (Concertmaster), Bernhard Melbye Voss (Conductor). Photo: © VSL.


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