Lebanese film director keeps faith after COVID-19 dashes Cannes dreams

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Many directors would have been devastated when their plans to screen their first feature film at the Cannes Film Festival were thwarted by the spread of COVID-19.
However, Lebanon's Jimmy Keyrouz said he took the themes of his film "Broken Keys" to heart, which tells his own story of how to find hope in the midst of a disaster.
The film follows a young man named Karim, who lives somewhere in Iraqi and Syrian territory and is occupied by militants from the Islamic state and dreams of fleeing to Europe to become a musician.
At the beginning of the film, the fighters smashed his piano. Then he tries to rebuild the instrument to sell it and finance his trip.
"If I were to sum up or say the spirit of the film in one sentence, I would say, 'Life is not about waiting for the storm - it's about learning to dance in the rain,'" Keyrouz told Reuters TV .
"I think it sums up the film pretty well and sums up our situation. You just have to keep working, keep moving forward."
Keyrouz said he shot part of "Broken Keys" in the Iraqi city of Mosul. "We filmed in the last area where ISIS (Islamic State) fought, and even there we smelled corpses under the rubble in some places."
Cannes chose the film for its 2020 cast, along with works by Wes Anderson and other star directors.
The world's largest cinema showcase, which usually takes place on the French Riviera in May, has canceled its events during the closure.
This month, the organizers released the list of their 56 films and said they wanted to continue using the festival's seal of approval to promote the films.
"I can only be very happy and grateful that Cannes supported and selected the film even though it didn't have the festival," said Keyrouz, adding that he still hoped to release the film later this year.

(Reporting by Imad Creidi and Maria Semerdjian; writing by Andrew Heavens; editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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