Film Chat: “Dough”

If you missed the lovely film Dough that was featured at last year’s Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival, you can now watch it on Netflix.

Filmed in the United Kingdom and Hungary, Dough features award-winning actor Jonathan Pryce (“Evita,” “Game of Thrones,” “Glengarry Glen Ross”), who plays an elderly religious Jew named Nat Dayan. Nat owns a bakery that’s failing in a neighborhood that’s declined. His customers have either died or moved away. However, he is determined to uphold the family legacy in the face of his son’s indifference and a greedy competitor.

His business is unexpectedly boosted by the arrival of a new apprentice. Jerome Holder plays the African teen, a Muslim refugee from Darfur, who is desperate to earn money to lift himself and his mother from their impoverished situation. He accepts the job as a front to sell cannabis for the local drug dealer, but one day, inadvertently slips marijuana into the dough. The resultant baked items become a hit with customers new and old.

Both protagonists have their initial prejudice about the other’s faith, but they eventually learn to appreciate each other’s innate goodness. And the apprentice, Ayyash, learns to bake some tasty treats. Also notable are Natasha Gordon as Ayyash’s mother and Melanie Freeman as Nat’s young granddaughter, the only one in the family who appreciates the bakery.

When Nat bemoans the injustice of the death of his beloved Esther, “who has only done good in her life” instead of his own lesser self, Ayyash tenderly comforts him by saying, “Who would God rather spend time with?” This is a warm-hearted film about friendship, developing tolerance and finding value in the things that matter most.

Not only is “Dough” available on Netflix, but for movie buffs, there are two annual film festivals going on now in Philadelphia: the Israeli Film Festival, which showcases the best in Israeli cinema, and the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival’s CineMondays, which features international Jewish-themed films. The films from these festivals are being screened in various venues throughout the area.

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