"The Syrian war is considered to be the world's largest humanitarian crisis.
More than half of all
Syrians have been forced to flee their homes, resulting in over 5.5 million refugees."
The United Nations
“Art makes us human” and our ability to create and innovate differentiates us as a human race. When Churchill was asked to cut the arts funding in order to support the war effort in World War II, he responded: “Then what would we be fighting for?”
Broken Keys tells the story of Karim, a musician who struggles to rebuild his piano after it is destroyed by extremists while trying to escape his war-ravaged Middle Eastern neighborhood where music has been banned.
Through the noble and transcendental power of music, Broken Keys explores matters of survival, resistance, defiance, sacrifice, and hope against the backdrop of a conflict-ravaged Middle Eastern neighborhood. The film is about a musician desperately trying to repair his piano, and a community struggling to fight for what makes them human. The story also sheds a light on the heroic role of women in the war against terror and their stand against traditional gender stereotypes.
Broken Keys is based on Nocturne in Black, which won the Gold Medal at the 43rd Student Academy Awards - in a year where the Academy received a record number of 1,749 films - the BAFTA Student Film Awards, the Directors Guild of America Film Award and was shortlisted for the 2017 Oscars in the Live-Action Shorts category. The film premiered at Telluride Film Festival.
“Music is what feelings sound like”. Through its power, this film will convey what Karim and the millions trapped in the horror of war truly feel. The message is one of hope; the fight for a future that exists without bullets and where living is more than just surviving. After all, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain” Vivian Greene.
Karim, 30s, lives in a hideout, in a war-torn village located on the Syrian/Iraqi border. He often plays the piano at night to lift up the morale in the hideout and remind people that there are still beautiful things worth fighting for.
Karim dreams of escaping the country to Europe and his only way of getting the money to leave is to sell his most precious possession, the piano he inherited from his mother. Ziad, 10, who also lives in the hideout, is the son of a resistance fighter. An attack occurs and one of the resistance fighters gets injured. The makeshift doctor asks Karim to play the piano to ease the injured man's pain. As Karim plays, Islamic state fighters find the hideout, destroy Karim's piano, and take Ziad's dad.
Desperately needing money to avenge his father, Ziad offers to help Karim. They separately go on a quest to find the parts needed to fix the broken piano. When Karim realizes what he needs is not in his village, Ziad tells him about a similar piano Iocated in the distant town of Ramza, which is at the heart of the conflict. It’s a suicide mission but Karim decides to take his chances. Abou Moussa, the closest thing Karim has to a father, tries to persuade him otherwise but the latter won't be persuaded.
On the outskirts of the city, Karim meets a smuggler that gets him inside Ramza. The city is ravaged and under siege. Desperate and lost, he bumps into a resistance fighter named Samar who agrees to help him find the piano, in exchange for safe passage outside of the city.
In the meantime, Ziad is forced into the Islamic school by an Islamic state spy. Determined to avenge his father, Ziad manages to steal a pipe bomb. When Karim returns from Ramza, he finds out about Ziad's plan. He confiscates the bomb and urges the little boy to lay low. Karim starts rebuilding his piano and the connection between the two strengthens. When Abou Moussa warns Karim that there is a bounty on his head, Karim tells Ziad he is leaving. The latter feels betrayed and takes off. Karim realizes his mistake and as he looks for Ziad, the Islamic State leader raid the hideout and kill Abou Moussa, who wouldn't tell him where Karim is.
Furious, and wanting to avenge Abou Moussa's death, Karim give up his spot to Ziad, and help the resistance fighters, in an act of ultimate defiance.