“Broken keys”, when the music thunders louder than the cannons

The adventure of The Broken Keys did not begin in Lebanon or Iraq, where the film was shot, but in the United States, in 2016, when the young Jimmy Keyrouz, then a student at Columbia University, became known to the public thanks to his short film Night in Black. This gets a gold medal at the Student Academy Awards, awards that are established by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the same one that organizes the Oscars. A few years later, the short film becomes a feature film

More elaborate footage produced by the Ezequiel company (The Insult of Ziad Doueiri), and takes the name Broken Keys (The Last Piano). Applauded by international critics, it was selected for the Black List 2019 Annual Feature Lab in Los Angeles for its screenplay and will be chosen in 2020 to represent Lebanon in the Oscar race in the “Best Foreign Film” category. When the 73rd edition of the Cannes Film Festival was canceled due to the pandemic, artistic director Thierry Frémaux decided to present the 2020 official selection anyway, with the aim of encouraging all the directors who had worked on their projects despite the confinement limitations. Jimmy Keyrouz will be part of the prestigious selection in the “First Films” category. For the young director, this is a worldwide recognition.

In “Keys broken”, beings in search of their inner music. Photo DR

Dance in the rain…

“This film is above all a fight for the reconquest of freedom. It is more about the freedom of expression in these oppressed and confined countries long before Covid-19 and also about the artists who have lost their right to express themselves,” said the young Lebanese director when this first work premiered. Isn’t muzzling art, and in particular music, the most lethal weapon against a country, against its memory and its civilization? Filming for Broken Keys began in Lebanon before continuing in Iraq. “A difficult and long shoot that had to stop several times,” testifies the director of the film whose action takes place in 2014, in a neighborhood that has fallen under the control of the Islamic State. It is the story of a young musician who refuses to submit to the law of barbarism and fear and who fights to “rebuild” his piano, destroyed by terrorists in a place where music has also been banned. He tells her about a piano restorer, far from his house, and the road is about to begin, not without major obstacles. The story of Karim, the film’s protagonist, is like that of any Lebanese who dreams of a better world when he lacks all the means. It is an endless search. Inexorable. In a country that has become a no man’s land, the main quest has become freedom and human dignity. Jimmy Keyrouz, who plays the piano, was initially inspired by these tragic real-life events to develop the story. “It was a scary but exceptional adventure,” recalls Keyrouz. “When we returned to Lebanon, the October 2019 revolution had started. Then we had to stop filming for a few weeks because most of the crew was participating in the protests. Then we resumed filming and luckily it was finished before confinement. »

Today, Broken Keys finally hits Lebanese cinemas. In the title role, Tarek Yaqoub (the pianist) is surrounded by a host of actors and actresses familiar with Lebanese screens, including Adel Karam, Rola Baksmati, Mounir Maasri, Gabriel Yammine, Badi ‘Abou Chakra, Fadi Abi Samra, Hassan Murad . .. The film’s music was written by international Lebanese composer Gabriel Yared, winner of an Oscar and two Golden Globes, among others. In a post-apocalyptic setting, this quest to restore the music in us is meant to “bring hope where it’s needed most,” says director Jimmy Keyrouz. And to add: “You don’t have to wait for the storm to calm down, but learn to dance in the rain. » The broken keys show that nothing is ever lost, not even in a landscape of total desolation. And even if they break, these keys continue to make music that thunders louder than cannons. You just have to believe in it and stick with it.

The adventure of The Broken Keys did not begin in Lebanon or Iraq, where the film was shot, but in the United States, in 2016, when the young Jimmy Keyrouz, then a student at Columbia University, became known to the public thanks to his short film Night in Black. This gets a gold medal at the Student Academy Awards, prizes that are established by…

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