Piano to Zanskar, an 86-minute film directed by Michal Sulima, took the grand prize at the Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival 2019. Facing his future in retirement, “sitting in deck chairs and eating lemon drizzle cake,” 65-year-old piano tuner, Desmond O’Keeffe, decides instead to take on the most challenging and perilous delivery of his four decade career: transporting a 100-year-old, 80-kilogram, upright piano, from bustling London to the remote heart of the Indian Himalayas.
“This film unites a set of lovely characters so individual and multi-faceted, even a seasoned Hollywood-screenwriter would have a hard time coming up with them,” said jury member Joachim Hellinger, “It takes us on a quest that seems to be crazy and anachronistic but is actually full of purpose and symbolic power.
“Watching this film helps to restore the belief in a better world. Our hearts warmed as we joined Harold, Desmond, and Anna on their journey schlepping a piano in pieces along dusty roads and across steep slopes into a remote village high up in the Himalayan Mountains. When 65-year old piano tuner Desmond reassembles the instrument, it becomes the highest piano in the world and everybody is united by the magic of music. Cultural boundaries vanish and a crazy dream becomes real. This is a passion project of emerging filmmakers. It is enchanting, it is a feel-good movie and it is the account of a real adventure.”