Goethe Institut - Porto Alegre, Brazil (2014)
Washington DC Jewish Film Festival (1997)
Jerusalem International Film Festival (1997)
Bitter Herbs and Honey tells a richly textured story of the making of multi-cultural Australia. Through the saga of the the story of the Jewish migrants, mainly from Eastern Europe, who made their first home in Melbourne's inner-city suburb of Carlton, the film explores issues at the heart of Australia's development towards cultural diversity. The film builds a picture of poor immigrants who left Europe in the period of turmoil preceding, and in the wake of, the Second World War, having lost everything spiritually and materially. In a country most had never heard of on the other side of the earth, they began to rebuild their lives. Refusing to join the cultural melting pot, the Carlton Jews chose instead to keep their own language, religion, culture and traditions alive, whilst integrating into their adopted country.There was conflict and struggle between the new Eastern European arrivals, with their visible Jewish identity, and the established German/Anglo-Jewish community that had lived in the affluent suburbs south of the Yarra for generations and saw itself primarily as British, then Australian, and lastly as Jewish.
Bitter Herbs and Honey is a story of struggle between the old and the new, the powerful and the weak, identity and assimilation. This struggle continued until the sheer strength of numbers of the new arrivals broke down the barriers between the two groups and the inevitable process of integration occurred.
"A gentle, informative documentary... beautifully handled... one that will entrance many with its tender dissection of traditions and lifestyles that seem to be slowly disappearing."
- David Stratton, Variety
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ALSO DIRECTED BY MONIQUE SCHWARZ
Bitter Herbs and Honey
Australia, 1996, 70 Minutes, color
Directed by Monique Schwartz
Public Exhibition formats: 16mm, Beta, DVD