In the Druze mountain villages between Syria and Israel, Kamel, a respected sheik, must make an impossible decision between family and duty when his estranged brother returns to the Golan Heights after 47 years in exile.
INTO THE DRUZE
The Druze people are a sect broken off from Islam nearly one thousand years ago. Spread throughout the levant, the Druze have maintained their independent culture and have managed to keep most elements of their religion shroud in secrecy. While monotheistic, the Druze faith is based upon a mixture of Abrahamic faiths, Greek philosophers and elements from eastern faiths, like the strong belief in reincarnation of human souls.
Spread throughout the Middle East, the Druze tend to be loyal to the country that they are born in. In the Golan Heights however, the large majority of the Druze community never accepted the Israeli occupation and remained strongly loyal to the Syrian government – something that has been challenged greatly since the onslaught of the brutal civil war in Syria.
The Taste of Apples is Red is one of the first windows into the highly secret way of life led by the Druze, that usually keep the details of their life and their religion well hidden from outsiders.
Ehab Tarabieh Studied Classic Violin at the Damascus Higher Institute for Music and Film in Jerusalem. For the past decade, Ehab has been in charge of the video department at B'Tselem, documenting human rights violations in occupied Palestine. His previous short films have won numerous prizes, including Best Short Film at Doha Tribeca Festival for "The Forgotten" and a nomination for a European academy award for "Smile and the World will Smile Back". "Of Land and Bread" was Ehab's feature documentary debut that celebrated its world premiere at IDFA. "The Taste of Apples is Red" is his first feature length film.
My grandfather was never a man of religion, and despite being the most important Farmer in Syria, receiving constant visits from the highest ranking official on a regular basis, upon growing old he was never considered one of the village elders. Throughout my childhood years, since I knew him he was largely ignored in the village.
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Grandpa had a regular speech he'd give me every time I came by, since I remember myself in my earliest memories, it went like this: “Even though the village is small, it has more secrets than the mountains themselves could carry. We are cowards. We know everything, but refuse to speak about anything.
One day, a man will come and he will try to unbalance the scale, to put the truth on one end and expose everything we’ve been hiding for all of these years. Because we are cowards, we will try with all our might to stop him, even by taking his life. More men will come doing the same thing, and because we are cowards, we will treat them the same.
Time and Again. I will die, you will be grown up and your children will grow too. You and your children will carry together the burden of our sins, and the sins of our fathers and grandfathers”.
This is my grandfather speech. Every time I would visit him, even if I was just running past his house as a 5 year old, he would summon me in to hear his speech. At this point in the speech he would always stop and ask for a glass of water. I would bring it, watch him drink and he would continue, every time, exactly the same without missing a beat. “Us Arabs, we are cowards, yes cowards! To rid ourselves of our cowardness, we need to change ourselves from the inside. We need to investigate our secrets and revolt against ourselves. Only then we can rid ourselves of the fear in our hearts”.
Then Grandfather would raise his stick and wave it at me with a big smile, “get out of here you little fool, go revolt and rebel against all of this!”. I would stand on my thin little legs and run out to play with the rest of the children.
When grandfather died, his funeral was modest. I remember my father and uncles carrying the coffin. Behind them, three old men dragged themselves alone, looking as if the only reason they came to the funeral was to see what their final respects will look like, when their time comes soon enough. None of the village elders, or the respectful men of religion came to my grandfather's funeral.
Since the revolution began in Syria, everything has changed. Everything has changed and stayed the same, in Syria and everywhere around. “The Taste Of Apples Is red” tells a story from our current times, the times we, the Arabs, are going through right now. It’s about a particular time, in which we do not want to expose our secrets because we are still cowards, or at least we believe so. It will investigate the secrets that we are so afraid to deal with, and that are no different than any other secrets of any other peoples in the world.
Makram Koury is a Palestinian Israeli. He was the youngest recipient ever of the prestigous Israel Prize and has worked extensively in London with the Royal Sheakspeare Company and with Peter Brooks in "11 and 12".
Tarik Kopty was a Palestinian Israeli actor, working in film and theater for 50 years. Tarek passed away in February 2022, shortly after filming "The Taste of Apples is Red". He is known for roles in Zaitoun, Sirens, Wajib, Omar and Lemon Tree.
Ruba Blal Asfour is a Palestinian Israeli Actress, best known for riveting roles in "Our Boys", "SandStorm" and "The Bubble"
Suheil Haddad is a veteran of Israeli Film and Theater, amongst others from films like "Avanti Popolo", "Cup Final" and "In Between".