New from Al and Linda Lerner on Movies and Shakers: Breaking Bread

Breaking Bread Movies and Shakers February 5, 2022

This film is more than easily digestible. It’s an informative delight showing what can happen when Arabs and Israelis get to know each other through food. Writer/Director Beth Elise Hawk introduces Dr. Nof Atamn-Ismael who is the first Muslim Arab winner of Israel’s Master Chef. She is also a female doctor who decided to create a food festival called the A-Sham Arabic Food Festival she claims gave her the power to make a bridge between Jews and Arabs to effect social change. A quote from Anthony Bourdain opens the film. “Food may not be the answer to world peace, but it’s a start.” And this film shows it. 

Language can be a barrier, but good food is not. Dr. Nof is a voice of reason and understanding between the Arabs and the Israelis, pointing out that there are more similarities than differences between their cultures. Not only do you learn about some of the greatest chefs from the Middle East, but the film literally maps out the historical region of the Levant where they come from, telling some of the geographical and political history. 

Dr. Nof lets you know that Palestinians and Israelis have a similar pallet. Just hearing her list the incredible number of ways to make hummus gives you an understanding how creativity cooking simple chick peas can spark your taste buds. It also shows the amazing dishes these chefs are known for, plus new ones created working together in the best restaurants in the region. The lesson is that there are no politics in the kitchen. 

Photography of food is an art and Director Beth Elise Hawk, working with Director of Photography, Ofer Ben Yehuda, squeeze every mouth-watering frame out of what these chefs create together.The artistry and presentation of the different dishes is captured with colorful, detailed cinematography. And the captivating music by Omar el-Deep adds a lot of flavor capturing a variety of influences, just like the food. Don’t see this film on an empty stomach. 

Kishek is one dish that is considered a highlight of the festival in Haifa. It is a real delicacy, often served at Lebanese weddings and takes weeks to prepare. It’s made of the world’s most refined dairy product, cracked wheat/bulgar, soaked for almost a week letting the dairy ferment and then it’s all dried in the sun.

Beth Elise Hawk both got to know these chefs well and lets their personalities shine along with their creations. She spends a lot of time showing one of the many chefs. Shlomi Meir, the personable, chain-smoking third generation chef of the family restaurant still cooking smoked meats and more, based on his Eastern European roots. His collaboration with Ali Khattib is so well depicted through honest conversations and their mutual love of food it almost makes you think Middle East peace might actually be possible.

That’s the indelible message of this film. Breaking Bread might just be the tool to repair broken relationships. When people sit down together to share food, they won’t be using their knives as weapons.

Cohen Media Group.  1 hour 26 minutes.       Documentary

In Theaters

The post Breaking Bread first appeared on Movies and Shakers.

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