Abe is now available to rent or buy.
Fresh from its 2019 TIFF and Sundance film festival screening, filmmaker Fernando Grostein Andrade’s sweet exploration of cultural and gastronomic fusion has now arrived on digital. Abe (Noah Schnapp) is an introverted yet confident twelve-year-old boy from Brooklyn who aspires to be a chef. However, Abe is also caught between two cultural/social and religious identities, Judaism and Islam. His mum is Jewish (Dagmara Dominczyk), and his dad is Palestinian (Arian Moayed). While love sits at the heart of the family, Abe is torn between both as he attempts to define his religious path.
Abe is pressured to please both sides of his family as his thirteenth birthday nears. While at the same time, he debates whether to go ahead with a Bar Mitzvah or embrace his Muslim heritage in a year that marks the transition to adulthood in both Islamic and Jewish culture. But if teen life isn’t complicated enough, his internal battle to please everyone is made all the more difficult by constant family arguments.
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Seeking an escape, Abe turns to cooking and sets up his own online blog, his dreams of becoming a professional chef wrapped in the flavours and recipes of his shared Jewish and Muslim heritage. However, despite his passion for food, Abe lacks a mentor to help him grow his skills. But, just when he thinks this mission may fail, he meets the Brazilian chef Chico (Seu Jorge), who creates amazing street food by harnessing the flavours of world cuisine.
Abe bravely takes on themes often held at arm’s length within the children and family film genre. Here Israeli and Palestinian conflict, religious identity, social isolation and family breakdown take centre stage. However, if you think the outcome of this is a deep or heavy movie, you would be wrong. Instead, Andrade folds these themes and discussions into a light, warm and relatable family comedy-drama with moments of sheer brilliance despite its over-simplistic and disappointing ending.
Performances shine in this gentle yet vibrant gem, as does the cinematography of Blasco Giurato (Cinema Paradiso), who wraps us in rich, vibrant colours throughout. Equally exciting is Fernando Grostein Andrade’s fly-on-the-wall filming style. The result is a movie that encourages younger audiences to reflect on diversity, belonging and religious and cultural identity. While equally reflecting on the delicious role food plays in bringing our communities together.
Director: Fernando Grostein Andrade
Cast: Noah Schnapp, Seu Jorge, Dagmara Dominczyk, Arian Moayed, Mark Margolis, Tom Mardirosian, Salem Murphy
Release Date: June 2nd 2020 (DVD)