Brewed in Palestine Film Review
When we think of Palestine and Israel, it conjures up somber images of carnage, destruction, and desolation. Despite a decades-long conflict plagued with misery, BREWED IN PALESTINE offers relief and presents a rare glimpse of joy amidst past traumas and a tense present.
The cycles of daily news have deprived both sides from their full humanness. We, as bystanders, are compelled and ultimately bound to black-and-white form of thinking and moral absolutism. Good, evil, right, wrong; objective claims that further divide us. We have forgotten that each Israeli and each Palestinian is a unique individual with his or her own personality, talents, strengths, weaknesses, and dreams.
We are all human. People are people, and wherever we are, we are simply trying to live with joy and peace in our lives.
This is the through-line behind Emma Schwartz’s new docu-short, BREWED IN PALESTINE, which recognizes the humanity of one Palestinian family that has one simple wish: to sell good beer.
Schwartz invites the viewer into the world of the Khoury family and their experience as entrepreneurs and brewers in the West Bank. Two brothers, Daoud and Nadim Khoury, who were born in Palestine, but educated in the US, founded The Taybeh brewery in 1995. It is the first microbrewery in the Middle East and first craft beer company in the West Bank, now recognized all over the globe. The film focuses on the brewery’s managers, including Madees Khoury, who has taken over the family business to pursue her passion of brewing unique craft beers. Not only has she contributed to Taybeh’s international sales (to Germany, Sweden, and Japan), but she has also managed to break stereotypes and barriers as an Arab female entrepreneur.
Despite the challenging business environment, various militant checkpoints, and lack of resources, she and her family have found clever solutions to keep the brewery alive. For herbs and spices, the Taybeh Brewery infuses indigenous ingredients, like zaatar, sumac and orange peels grown right in their backyards. To help finance import costs, the brewery has begun exporting olive-oil overseas. The Taybeh family also launched an Oktoberfest-style beer festival to promote themselves and spread awareness about their story. No barrier, physical or metaphorical, has gotten in the way of stopping the Khoury family.
The characters of this short are not pawns in a political story – they are not politicians, soldiers, victims, or perpetrators. They are not a stereotype.They are brewers, brothers, daughters, and humans, pursuing their passion and trying to bring happiness to their life and to others’ through great tasting beer.
BREWED IN PALESTINE is a reminder that there is light in this world, and there is a spark in every human being. Although we often lose sight of hope when there is suffering and pain, the human spirit finds a way to emerge through the cracks of darkness.