Film preview: Bastardo at Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds

Bastardo

Bastardo

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“IT all happened thanks to Twitter,” explains Paul Marshall, the Leeds singer-songwriter otherwise known as Lone Wolf, of his latest music project – the soundtrack for a Tunisian film called Bastardo.

“The director Nejib Belkadhi tweeted me out of the blue saying he was a huge fan of my album The Devil and I, which was released in 2010, and would I like to score his film?

“Naturally, due to the way Twitter is, it’s not too difficult for any crazy person to come along and say anything like that so I said, ‘Thanks but no thanks’. At the time I was recording my next album The Lovers, I was really busy and I couldn’t imagine how I would find time to do something like that anyway. But he sent me more and more insisting tweets.”

Finally Marshall yielded in the face in the face of Belkadhi’s insistence. “I said to my wife, ‘I really like this guy’,” he recalls. “He’d done well with his previous film [Dubai] which was shown at Cannes and the Sundance Festival.”

A conversation via Skype led to Marshall jetting out to Tunisia. “He put me up in a ridiculous five-star hotel on the beach. He said to me, ‘I wanted to bring you here to show you the film and introduce you to some Tunisian musicians, I thought you might be interested in working with them.’ I went for it.”

Belkadhi showed him Bastardo in its uncut state – “It was three hours and 20 minutes long at the time” – and talked him through it “step by step”. Although the dialogue was in Arabic, with “basic subtitles” and the 41-year-old director’s commentary, by the time Marshall agreed to compose the soundtrack he “knew the story inside out”.

“I only needed to see the imagery and the way the actors performed to understand what kind of music would go with it.”

The story is “about a guy who lives in a mafia-run slum”.

“It’s a rise to power via the fact that he decides to build a mobile phone aerial on his roof. There’s a strange shift in power due to the fact it brings communication and technology to this slum. He has the ability to shut off the mobile phone signal because of his power.

“It’s a social commentary on how we are on our phones 24-7 and could we live without them? It’s a very Western-themed story set in Tunisia.”

The film has proved a substantial hit, being shown at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and in Abu Dhabi and Palm Springs. It also won best film at the Tunisian Directors’ Guild.

Now Bastardo is set for a one-off screening at the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds – at Belkadhi’s prompting. Marshall says the director wanted to attend “but he’s representing the film in Egypt”, so instead the composer will “do a spoken introduction to the film and give my own background to present it as the Leeds/Tunisian link-up, which is quite nice”.

The soundtrack is also available to download on a pay-what-you-will basis via Marshall’s website, iamlonewolf.com. Among the 22 tracks is the song Glass. “It was written for the end credits, it’s the only song I’ve released since The Lovers [in 2012],” he says.

Having had previous bad experiences of the music industry – “It’s a very bleak, unattractive place to dwell” – Marshall has found his metier writing music for film. He plans to work again with 41-year-old Belkadhi, who has become a close friend, and went out to Toronto to “network” with other film-makers and soundtrack composers and “see if I could get my work out there”.

“Over the last couple of years I’ve become more and more distant from the music industry,” he says. “I’m very interested in making music, just not being part of that whirl, so to speak.”

Bastardo shows at the Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds on March 27 at 8.45pm. For details, visit www.hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk.

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