Inspired by actual events, NOCTURNE IN BLACK takes place in a Middle Eastern community where music has been banned by Jihadists who have imposed their strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law. Our film's hero, KARIM, is a young pianist whose music gives his disheartened neighbors strength and inspiration in times of desperation and hopelessness. After his piano is destroyed by Jihadists, Karim befriends Ziad, a child prodigy. This friendship ignites Karim's quest to find the missing parts needed to rebuild his piano, and in essence, his life.
WHY IS THE STORY IMPORTANT
NOCTURNE IN BLACK is our thesis film at Columbia University's School of the Arts Film Program and was inspired by an article about a Syrian young man who continues to play his piano under threat of persecution in the midst of his country’s civil war in order to reach out to war victims through the universal language of music.
However, this story is not only about fixing a piano but about survival, resistance, defiance, war, and — most importantly — music, set against the backdrop of a war-ravaged neighborhood. We strongly believe that the plight of individuals like Karim, our protagonist, deserves to be told.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3 million people have fled to Syria's immediate neighbours Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria.
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP
Shooting in the Middle East is essential since it will add an authentic cachet to our production. Because we cannot shoot in Syria, Iraq or Palestine due to security concerns, Lebanon is our prime choice for production since some parts of the country’s infrastructure haven’t been renovated since the 1975-1990 civil war. Practically speaking, shooting in Lebanon will lower some budget expenses, such as costs for equipment rentals, transportation and catering. However the production of our film remains very challenging regarding props, cars, dressing a neighborhood to look specifically like one in Syria or Iraq and finally destroying a piano onscreen.
As students and young filmmakers, we lack many financial resources. However, we believe in this story, the message it conveys, and the importance of telling it in today’s international climate. This film cannot make it through production without your support. $20,000 is the minimum amount needed. While we hope to go beyond our goal to make a better film, we will not get your donations unless we reach our goal. (https://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/kickstarter%20basics). We hope you believe in its value and will help us bring the story to fruition.
HOW CAN YOU HELP
Every donation will help us to produce this film.
A $10 donation feeds a member of our cast, crew & extras.
A $95 donation will rent us a prop weapon.
A $550 donation will allow us to rent the camera & lenses for a day.
You can also help us by sharing our Kickstarter page on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
MEET THE TEAM
DIRECTOR / WRITER
Jimmy Keyrouz is a New York based director and screenwriter. He completed his undergraduate studies in Filmmaking at the Institute of AudioVisuals and Cinema in Beirut. Later in the same year, he directed music videos which were broadcasted on local television, heralding him as one of Lebanon's youngest directors.
Jimmy is currently a Screenwriting/Directing M.F.A candidate at the prestigious Columbia University's School of the Arts where he has directed several short films and served as teaching assistant for professors Annette Insdorf and Christina Kallas. Currently, he is developing two feature films and working as a freelance director/editor.
A native New Yorker and lifelong cinephile, Felecia Hunter is a producer, screenwriter and director. She received her BA in Film Studies from Columbia University in 2013, completing her thesis on the relationship between romance and narrative structure in Hitchcock films. As an undergraduate, she served as Executive Producer of two critically acclaimed short films: Boneshaker (starring Academy Award® Nominee Quvenzhané Wallis) & Afronauts, nominated for Best Narrative Short of 2014 at the Berlinale Film Festival. Both films premiered in the U.S. at the Sundance Film Festival and have subsequently screened at more than two dozen festivals across North America and the UK. Felecia is currently a graduate degree candidate in Columbia University’s School of the Arts Creative Producing MFA program. Her directorial debut short film, The Secrets We Keep, is in submission to film festivals. She is also writing her first feature-length screenplay & producing several short films in the U.S. & the Middle East.
Brittany Northcross is a film and theater producer based in New York. She has a passion for making art that reflects minority voices and experiences often missing from the narrative film market. She holds a BA in History from Harvard University, where she also studied acting, theater, and political science. Originally from Nashville, Tennessee, Brittany is currently in her first year at Columbia University’s School of the Arts where she is pursuing an MFA degree in Creative Producing for Film.
Mustafa Kaymak received his BA in Journalism from Ankara University in Turkey. Later, he persued an MFA in playwriting at Columbia University. In 2008, he moved to Alaska and began writing plays. Mustafa is currently a graduate degree candidate in Columbia University’s School of the Arts Creative Producing MFA program. He is currently co-producing his first feature film.
Mickey Liu is an international producer based in America and China. With a wide range of experience from student shorts to feature film, he is a filmmaker passionate for fiction and non-fiction storytelling. He is currently working for producer Frida Torresblanco (Pan’s Labyrinth) at Braven Films, where he assists with feature film and administrative works. He holds a BA from Beijing Foreign Studies University (International Business & English Literature), and is pursuing an MFA degree in Film Creative Producing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Born and raised in Shenzhen, China, he speaks both Cantonese and Mandarin.
Lana Ghandour received her BA from Royal Holloway, University of London in Media arts - a program which focused on both film theory and practice. Throughout her undergraduate years, Lana was involved in a number of films. Her final thesis was a split screen film installation which explored hybrid and split identities. Lana has recently completed her MA in film studies at Columbia University. Her final thesis focused on the significance of fashion and costume in relation to stars in cinema.
After completing her Bachelor in Filmmaking at Alba University, with an emphasis in directing, Marie-Rose Osta primarily worked on short films. Later she worked as an assistant director at Studio-Vision, and was involved in major shows. Marie-Rose has a vast festival experience and successfully promoted the Outbox Film Festival at Cannes in 2010. Later she worked as a line producer in several TV commercials for major P&G brands. Marie-Rose is currently employed at Leo Burnett Beirut, as a Senior TV Producer for the CEMEA Region.
Martine Daher is a cinematographer based in the Middle East and Europe. After completing her bachelor in film studies at the Saint Joseph University of Beirut and taking graduate courses at Yale University, Martine worked as a cinematographer on documentaries, music videos, commercials, short films, corporate films and TV shows. Having a passion for screenwriting and storytelling, Martine is in the midst of a MASTER II program in filmmaking at the Universite Toulouse II Le Mirail (ESAV) in France. Currently, Martine is working on her first feature film.
Born in Albania in 1979 during the communist era, Fatrin Krajka was raised in a celebrated family of musicians. His father, with whom he originally studied composition and orchestration, is a renowned composer and songwriter. His mother is a former violist with the Albanian National Orchestra of Opera and Ballet. In 1992, Fatrin’s family emigrated to New York City. He was subsequently accepted to La Guardia High School for Music and Art and the Performing Arts where he studied viola and pursued his education in piano. As an adolescent, his dreams and musical ambitions rapidly flourished, leading him to hone his pianistic skills at the very prestigious Manhattan School of Music. His noteworthy debuts include Carnegie Hall and Merkin Hall. The NYC musical scene inspired his first compositions which were soon showcased at Columbia University School of the Arts. In parallel to his career as a performer, the immense interest that Fatrin has always been taking in visual arts nourished his compositions that he approaches like a blank canvas, willing to paint the musical emotion. This ongoing ambition to link image and sound now allows him to realize numerous projects for Film and Television. Among his recent projects is the award winning short film Dame Factory, and three feature films: The Warrior and the Savior, Anatomy of the Tide, and Ramona. More than just a simple support for image, Fatrin’s approach in film scoring seeks to convey a third dimension that leaves a lasting emotional trace, making one want to be a part of it again and again…
Marie-José Daoud is a multimedia journalist. She studied business and finance in Paris and Madrid, and worked in marketing for a cosmetics company in Europe and the Middle-East. Five years into the job, she decided to make a career change and converted to long-form business journalism, covering telecoms, art, banking, and media for a Lebanese publication in French. While working as a print reporter, she witnessed the development of multimedia journalism on the web: stories told in photos, videos, audio, maps and text. In 2013, she decided to pursue her Masters of Journalism at Columbia University where she focused on videos for the web. Marie-José is currently working at the Columbia Journalism School as a Digital Media Fellow. She is auditing an interactive design class and working on her own multimedia project.
Risks and challenges
There are numerous obstacles to overcome with a project this ambitious. We are filming in a part of the world that is under great political and social turmoil. However, we believe in this story, the message it conveys, and its importance.
Among our many challenges is set and production design. We need to find a neighborhood with demolished infrastructures and building facades that are beyond repair and dress it to look like a ravaged one. While we will concede to off-screen solutions and editing tricks for bombs and blasts, destroying a piano onscreen is crucial to our film. But shooting it in a realistic way will be a difficult task. Finally, several S.U.Vs and a large cast of extras will also be needed in order to shoot the Jihadist scenes which requires a lot of coordination and organization from the crew.
However, we are determined to make our film as realistic as possible and will do our best to create a strong sense of realism and authenticity. Our motto is: the show must go on!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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