Film premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, September 7th
Blanchard performing at an outdoor concert at the festival on Monday, September 8th
(Hollywood, CA) World-renowned film composer and trumpet player Terence Blanchard reunites with director Spike Lee to score Miracle at St. Anna. The film debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival Sunday, September 7th at 9:00pm in the Visa Screening Room. Miracle at St.Anna marks Blanchard's twelfth collaboration with Lee. Miracle at St. Anna is part of the Special Presentations at the festival. Blanchard's original epic score features over 140 minutes of music and was recorded at Sony Studios in Los Angeles with a 98-piece orchestra, including members of Terence Blanchard's band. In addition to the film debut, Blanchard will perform an outdoor jazz concert sponsored by the festival on Monday, September 8th. Miracle at St. Anna is presented by Touchstone Pictures in association with On My Own and RAI Cinema.
Miracle at St. Anna is based on James McBride's critically-acclaimed, NY Times bestseller and World War II novel. With a cast that includes Michael Ealy, John Turturro, John Leguizamo, and Walton Scoggins, Miracle at St. Anna depicts the lives of four African-American soldiers fighting in World War II (1944). The film follows the 92nd Buffalo Soldier Division trapped behind enemy lines and separated from their unit in a small Italian village. What happens within the confines of the town, and the incredible passion with which these soldiers live out their daily lives is nothing less than physically and emotionally extraordinary.
Says Blanchard of Miracle, "I'm inspired by the story itself. Growing up in New Orleans, I remember the Buffalo Soldiers marching in parades and never realized the significant role they played in fighting for our freedom. It's an honor to be a part of a project that helps to relive and tell a small segment of what those soldiers dealt with in our history."
Spike Lee and Terence Blanchard's impressive collaborative films include Mo Better Blues, Malcolm X and Inside Man, along with HBO's critically lauded Emmy-winning series, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts. Blanchard's 2008 Grammy Award-winning CD A Tale Of God's Will (A Requiem For Katrina), draws from music he wrote for the series and includes new music written by his band members, making it a beautifully haunting and impassioned song-cycle about Hurricane Katrina and the ravages incurred upon the city of New Orleans.
Blanchard has had a prolific year. In addition to touring worldwide and scoring films, Blanchard played a pivotal role in moving The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz from Los Angeles to New Orleans, a move that as Artistic Director he feels will benefit the city of New Orleans and expose students to the ever-present rich diversity of music.
Terence Blanchard was born in New Orleans and began playing piano at the age of five. In elementary school, he added the trumpet and was coached by his opera-singing father. In high school, Blanchard came under the tutelage of Ellis Marsalis and Roger Dickerson. After graduation, attended Rutger's University on a music scholarship where one of his professors was so impressed by his talent that he brokered him a touring gig with Lionel Hampton's band.
In '83, Wynton Marsalis recommended Blanchard to replace him in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Part of the Blakey legend was his ability to foster performances and individual personalities from the young, malleable talents he brought into his fold. Blakey utilized and nurtured the improvisation and compositional ideas of his band members to solidify his own unique artistic vision. The legacy of the working band as a jazz workshop is at the essence of jazz, and Blanchard remains one of the few on the scene today who fully embraces that dynamic.
Terence Blanchard's additional film credits include Eve's Bayou, Talk to Me, Barbershop, Dark Blue and Oprah Winfrey's Their Eyes Were Watching God.