THE BIRTH OF SAKÉ is a cinematic documentary about a group of passionate saké-makers at Yoshida Brewery, a 144-year-old family-owned small brewery in northern Japan.
44In a world where most mass produced goods are heavily automated
The workers at Yoshida Brewery are an eclectic cast of characters, ranging from 20 to 70 years old, who must live and work for a six-month period through the brutal winter.
Currently, stiff competition and the eventual retirement of experienced workers intensify the pressure of preserving quality of taste, tradition and brand reputation for Yoshida Brewery.
Surrounded by 1,000 competitors, Yoshida must surface as a worthy contender in an oversaturated market. The documentary's narrative follows the brewery’s energy and ambition to survive, while telling the intimate stories and sacrifices of those who dedicate their whole lives to the making of this world-class saké.
Brooklyn-based Erik Shirai is the brainchild behind the documentary.
Shirai was a painter, then a photographer, then a lighting technician on film sets, before eventually operating the camera. Today, Shirai he a slew of internationally known award winning commercials and television programs under his belt — most famously the Travel Channel's Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.
The Birth of Saké was Shirai's first feature documentary, and was selected as the Best Documentary Film at the 2016 Palm Springs International Film Festival.
Shirai says of his unusual cinematic and visually arresting347I strongly believe that there is no reason why documentaries cannot be 348type349b350contents351type352text353contents354as cinematic as fictional films355type356text357contents358. I feel that 359type360b361contents362type363text364contents365documentaries have this stereotype that they need to be rough and raw366type367text368contents369 — but I personally feel more engaged watching something that has a370type371b372contents373type374text375contents376 strong visual style377type378text379contents380 that supports the narrative.381
Some of filmmaker Erik Shirai's artwork: