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MovieScore Media: "BETTER DAYS" music by Varqa Buehrer

MovieScore Media’s recent string of Oscar-submitted movies, the label’s latest release is the score to Better Days, one of the five movies nominated for the Best International Film in 2021. Directed by Derek Tsang, Hong Kong’s entry into the Oscar race, Better Days tells the story of Chen Nian (Dongyu Zhou), a bullied teenage girl who forms an unlikely friendship with the mysterious Xiao Bei (Jackson Yee) who protects her from her assailants, all the while she copes with the pressures of her final examinations. Better Days grossed more than US$80 million dollars on its opening weekend in China, which became 184 million U.S. dollars in the first two weeks of its release. The film won the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2020 whereas the music was nominated in the Best Original Score category.

“In our early discussions about the score, Derek was very adamant that we should treat Chen Nian and Xiao Bei’s story with sufficient gravity and seriousness,” shares composer Varqa Behrer. “I’m really grateful for this approach, as there is easily a tendency to gravitate towards sensationalism when you have two of the most famous talents in China on screen. We went through many revisions to find the right sonic palette, keeping in mind the innocence and optimism that lies stubborn in youth, but being a little more daring when it came time to lay bare the juxtaposing reality of the cruelty of human nature. In doing so, we tailored the sound of the pianos for each scene in order to strike the right emotional tone for that moment, and even musical drones and pads were slowly crafted over time to ensure every sound heard in the film adds value to the characters’ experience. Much like telling the story of a close friend, I was motivated to approach it truthfully and with much care and sincerity.”

A graduate from the University of Southern California (USC) Screen Scoring program, Varqa Buehrer originally worked as an apprentice under three time Grammy Award nominated producer Photek, composer of the Emmy-winning series How to Get Away With Murder. Better Days marks Varqa’s first feature-length score, his most recent credit is the 12-part crime series The Long Night, directed by his childhood friend, If Chen.

Jeremy [Six Strings]

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