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THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE
aka LE CHIAVI DI CASA (Italy) aka LES CLEFS
DE LA MAISON (France) aka THE HOUSE KEYS
USA: Lions Gate Films
UK: Artificial Eye
Cast: Kim Rossi Stuart, Charlotte Rampling, Andrea Rossi, Alla Faerovich, Pierfrancesco Favino, Manuel Katzy, Michael Weiss, Ingrid Appenroth, Dimitri Susin, Thorsten Schwarz, Eric Neumann, Dirk Zippa, Barbara Koster-Chari, Anita Bardeleben, Ralf Schlesener, Camilla Erblich, Bernd Weikert
Director: Gianni Amelio
Countries: Italy / France / Germany
Language: Italian (English subtitles)
USA: 105 mins
UK: 111 mins
UK Certificate: PG contains mild emotional intensity
USA Release Date: 22 December 2004 (Limited Release)
UK Release Date: 1 April 2005
Beautifully crafted by acclaimed director Gianni Amelio, THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE is a compassionate and rigorous exploration of fatherhood and the often surprising nature of disability. After the film's premiere in Venice earlier this year, it became a box-office hit in Italy and was selected as Italy's official entry for the Academy Awards® 2005. Inspired by Giuseppe Pontiggia's novel BORN TWICE, THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE is the touching story of a young father forging a relationship with his handicapped son, whom he meets for the first time as a teenager.
Paolo has muscular dystrophy and is disabled both physically and psychologically. He must travel to a special hospital in Berlin for rehabilitation and is accompanied by his father, Gianni (Kim Rossi Stuart). Paolo has been living with his aunt and uncle and doesn't know his father, who now hopes to get to know his estranged son. In the hospital Gianni meets Nicole (Charlotte Rampling), a strong woman dedicating herself entirely to the care of her handicapped daughter, and through their conversations, Nicole helps Gianni come to terms with the guilt of having abandoned Paolo. This revelation results in an unexpected and fragile happiness between a father and a son discovering each other and themselves in a place far from home.
When director Gianni Amelio was asked by Rai Cinema to make a film based on the book BORN TWICE he didn't think he could do it, as he felt he would never be able to convey the feelings of the father of a son who suffers from muscular dystrophy. But after he met Andrea Rossi, who went on to play in the film, he decided to model the character of Paolo on both the son in the book and Andrea. Even though they don't resemble physically, the share the 'unawareness' of what is bad, the cheerfulness and a 'joie de vivre'.
The title THE KEYS TO THE HOUSE refers to kids passing from childhood to adolescence, when their parents let them come home late at night and open the front door without knocking; when they first feel grown-up. Paolo is very proud that he has the keys to the house where he lives, even though he can't use them without help.
"Filming was a special event, thanks to Andrea. He impacted the filming in a good way, his irony cancelling out every problem, small or large, that is part of any film shoot... He's a presence - a strong and strange one, like Spielberg's ET. He's an innocent. But children are not innocents. He's neither child nor man; he's rich in his own way, he's mysterious, unique. He's not normal, but I don't see him as a handicapped person. I didn't want to make a film about the tragedy of handicap, but about difference. I wanted to talk about how hard it is to love someone who is physically different, who has been struck by an affliction." - Gianni Amelio
Gianni Amelio has been making films for television since 1970 and made his first feature for cinema in 1982. THE KEYS OF THE HOUSE is Amelio's fourth film to be selected as Italy's Oscar candidate. Previous candidates were 1994's LAMERICA, 1992's THE STOLEN CHILDREN and 1989's OPEN DOORS.