An engrossing sensory experience, The Birth of Saké focuses on a group of traditional makers of the ancient Japanese wine—prepared by fermenting rice and a brewing process more like that of beer—at the Yoshida Brewery in northern Japan. These devoted brewers obviously enjoy their beautiful and complicated craft, as several generations reveal the personal sacrifices they have had to make to keep that craft alive, but the difficulties they face—the crush of competition, the nearly monastic life and lack of contact with family for long stretches of the year, the challenges in getting younger recruits to replace the older brewers—all work against preserving a time-honored practice in a constantly modernizing world.
That the number of traditional breweries has dropped dramatically over the last century is a problem, too, and these brewers face the fact that they might be surrendering their lives to a practice that will soon be obsolete. “No one who views The Birth of Saké will ever see the beverage the same way again”—Eric Kohn, IndieWire. (Erik Shirai, 2015, 94 minutes)
$7 at the door