The Birth of Sake (dir. Erik Shirai, 2015) is a documentary that tells the story of a brewing season at Yoshida Brewery, one of the few remaining Japanese breweries to practice the traditional manufacturing process for sake. But more than a story about the brewery or sake as a product, this documentary centers the labor of making sake and honors the people who bring it into the world.
To me, this is one of the most beautiful documentaries out there. It likes to linger, and offers minimal narration. The cinematography and sound engineering are smooth, mesmerizing, and immersive. Nothing is clearer after watching this documentary than this: the birth of sake is laborious, intense, and grueling, and the most important part of it is the people.
“The Birth of Sake” is available on Kanopy.