The Golden Harvest
Palestine, Italy, Spain, Greece
Producer: Alia Yunis
Vivien Sansour knows where the best olive oil in the world is. She knows the exact tree. It is in the backyard of her home in Bethlehem. But she discovers as she travels in search of an olive oil utopia, that other mothers, fathers, farmers, and businessmen also know the best source of oil. It’s in the trees of their fields. It’s something they know with the same breath that they know what family, survival, tradition, change and justice mean. In olive oil, there is a history and hunger of all that. Vivien has dedicated herself to working with Palestinian farmers trying to save their olive orchards. She’s assisted international solidarity movements. She’s seen Palestine become the home of the first Fair Trade Olive Oil. And yet, none of it seems fair at all. Vivien dreams of a town in Spain called Marinaleda, where the community and the land are friends, where there is no unemployment and where the olive oil can hold its own against the finest oils of the Mediterranean. After the olive harvest festival, Vivien heads towards Marinaleda to meet its Mayor. On her journey through Spain, Greece and Italy, she gets to know farmers, bottlers, scientists, chefs, religious leaders and tasters. She follows the same path olive took to get there--from Palestine, where it was first pressed, to Greece to Italy, and then Spain. This is a story about how, in the Mediterranean, olive oil is inseparable from the human determination to make things right, much has it has been for thousands of years, in war and peace.
Alia Yunis is a filmmaker and writer who has worked in the US, the Middle East and Europe. A Pen Emerging Voices fellow, her debut novel, The Night Counter (Crown/Random House 2010) has been critically acclaimed by the Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, and several other publications. She spent many years in Los Angeles as a screenwriter and script analyst for companies such as Warner Bros, Miramax, and Hallmark Entertainment. She produced and co-directed the feature documentary, Manhunt, which played on Oprah Winfrey’s Oxygen Channel as a Valentine’s Day special. Since then, she has produced several short films, including Dreams in their Eyes, about the week in the life of a volunteer medical mission for sick and injured Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian children in the refugee camps in Lebanon. It won top prizes at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Film Festival and the Marbella International Film Festival, as well as played in several other international festivals. While doing her Masters, she spent two years in Washington, DC working as an associate producer for an Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines and books.