Full House for The Golden Harvest Debut at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival

fullsizeoutput_117e(March 14, 2019) The Golden Harvest (2019, 85 min) made its debut on March 4, 2019 at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival to a full house.  The screening was followed by a lively Q & A that continued onto the pier along the fabulous arthouse area of the city where the majority of the festival takes place.

Greeks have the highest consumption of olive oil in the world, so it is no surprise that the audience reacted with tears and laughter to The Golden Harvest, which weaves the 6,000-year old love story between the people of the Mediterranean and their olive trees through personal tales in Palestine, Greece, Italy, Spain and Israel, including that of the filmmaker’s father.

“We are delighted that the film debuted in Thessaloniki, one of the top 10 international film festivals, and in a country where part of the film was shot,” says Alia Yunis, the director/writer.

The Golden Harvest is not just a foodie film, although there is plenty for foodies to savor, including learning from one of the top tasters in the world how to evaluate oil. But through a unique cast of characters, the film tackles the social and political dimensions of olive trees, including environmental issues, war, globalization, the European Union, marketing and branding, and Fair Trade, all of which impact this genie in a bottle.

“After seeing this film, I changed my mind about selling my family’s olive trees,” one audience member announced during the Q & A.

Alia was joined on stage for the Q & A by Pavlos Georgiadis, who is the youngest farmer in Makkri, his village in the Thrace region of northeastern Greece.  His family is one of the many families that the film introduces to viewers.

“This film was inspired by my dad’s love of the olive tree, and I started noticing when talking to others with roots in the Mediterranean that the mention of olive oil opens up their souls and uncorks to their own heritage,” Alia says. “We shot over 80 hours of footage over four years, and the stories just kept coming.  This is just a taste of all this tree can tell us about ourselves.”

The film is next schedules to play at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival in April.

For further information, please contact info@goldenharvestfilm.org  and/or visit www.goldenharvestfilm.org

To contribute to the financing still needed for the marketing and distribution of the film, please visit the non-profit, UNESCO member NGO collecting funding for the film: https://www.heritage-activities.org/food-and-heritage  All individuals and institutions who donate receive a mention in the thanks, as well as their logo in the credits, if desired.58a06575-73ad-4593-96d9-d16c30aadec9

The Henna Hands of The Night Counter

The paperback cover is ready, and no, neither one of the hands on it is mine, as some people have asked me.   Responding to “Don’t you love it as much as we do? We hope so!” was about as much input as I was allowed to have in the cover’s design.  And after getting over the initial stupefaction of seeing a visual interpretation of 300 plus pages of words and after having lived with the hard cover for so long now, I do indeed love it.

The Henna Hands of The Night Counter

So what character’s hands are on the cover?  Definitely Scheherazade’s.  The other people in the book wouldn’t do henna, unless it was part of an orientalist-themed party, the sorts of parties that aren’t organized by the people the people in The Night Counter know.

There is in fact a lot more henna in my real world than in the real world of The Night Counter.  Scheherazade’s people are the ones who brought henna to the UAE area, where it is very much a part of daily life.  On the practical side, it is still used for making hair stronger and covering gray.  But where it really shows its true colors is as hand and foot art.  The Gulf women, as well as many people who have lived here a long time, go have their hands and feet painted for most special occasions, especially weddings.   The artwork is usually done by Sudanese women, who move with such agility that it’s like watching one of those speeded up painting videos from PBS.  The possibilities for intertwining flowers and vines are pretty endless, and it will stay nearly pristine for about week.   Red henna, that’s the real stuff.  Black henna, which is used on the desert safari tourist circuit, is synthetic, and I’ve seen more than one allergic reaction to it.

I kind of get freaked out by the images my mind creates out of the fading henna, when the flowers and vines can morph into disturbing shapes.  Henna isn’t for everyone, and probably most of the women in The Night Counter, aside from Scheherazade, don’t have the time and patience to sit down for henna design as a part of regular US-paced life.  Well, maybe Randy, if she gave up her weekly manicures and pedicures could squeeze henna in, but then I’m sure Scheherazade would wonder who wants to see henna on unmanicured hands?