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 Schedule for Thessaloniki International Film Festival

POSTER-GOLDEN HARVEST GreenWe are delighted that The Golden Harvest will make its international debut at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival .  Please join us if you can!

For more information, visit:  https://www.filmfestival.gr/en/movie/movie/11920

TONIA MARKETAKI 04 March 2019 15:30
JOHN CASSAVETES 05 March 2019 12:45

The Golden Harvest to Premiere at Thessaloniki International Film Festival

Every filmmaker making a film on her own dreams of it opening at a Top 10 ranked festival.  We are delighted thus that The Golden Harvest will make its debut on March 4 at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival in Greece.  Not only is it a great festival–it’s in the country with the highest per capita consumption of olive oil.  We’ll post photos later.  More Information on The Golden Harvest

Filming at Monte Testaccio in Rome38143468_10156701536623447_2233407483823521792_o



The Middle East Student Film Festival

Much as I love film and much as it has been such a big part of my life, I don’t often watch the Academy Awards, even when I’m invited to Oscar parties at friends’ houses.  Aside from crying along with the winners on the Miss USA pageant as a kid, I’m just not that interested in award shows—I’d rather see the movies.  And when I lived in LA, the Oscars were just such a great time to go out and run errands, as the streets were as empty as Christmas.

However, this year I watched them because of another film award show.  Two of my students, Reema Majed and Al Yazyah Al Falasi decided in March that their senior project would be create the first annual student film festival in the Middle East, with three awards to be given out for top documentary and narrative shorts.  Monumental as a task as this is, they were determined, and the result as been several nights of insomnia for me, as I’m sure it has for them.  One of those insomniac nights, I turned on the TV, a rather unprecedented event in of itself, and there were the Oscars just beginning.  What the heck, I thought, I’ll keep them on and mark papers.  The papers I had to read were for a class assignment in which I’d asked students to compare The Hurt Locker to Casablanca, as two movies set against war and the Arab world.  In a class of 30, I’m the only one who preferred Casablanca, although most of the papers seemed to reflect an uncomfortable feeling about how the Iraqis were portrayed as unsavory or stupid and the US soldiers as the saviors of the Iraqis, if not the saviors of themselves.  But in the midst of reading the papers, I considered it kismet (title of another movie with a Middle Eastern setting, albeit far more fantastical) when Steve Martin or someone mentioned that this was the first time 10 films had been nominated for the Oscars since Casablanca won in 1943.

Yes, perhaps if Jordan could manage to be the set for such a complicated shoot as The Hurt Locker, then perhaps it is the right time indeed for their to be a student film festival in the Middle East.  I’m so excited for what our students have accomplished—the Zayed University Film Festival, which received nearly 70 films from eight countries from Egypt to Lebanon and Palestine to Qatar, including Iraq and Jordan, rolls out the red carpet next week, literally, for a festival that will showcase more than 30 films, including the 12 finalists.  Many of the films seem to deal with the issue of identity amidst the turmoil of the filmmakers’ personal lives and the tumultuous and rapidly changing world they live in. Making a film as a student, particularly with limited means, is not an easy thing, nor is setting up a film festival to give them a chance to be viewed, so if you’re in town please come and enjoy the show.  It’s an armchair seat into the minds of today’s Middle Eastern youth.

Check out the films playing at http://www.zuff.ae

Stay tuned for the winners!