There’s a lot more to saké—the legendary Japanese rice wine—than most drinkers realize. The best bottles embody a 2,000-year tradition that is painstaking, precise, incredibly labor-intensive and increasingly rare. Its creation is a cross between producing great art and raising “an unruly child.”
Japanese-American filmmaker Erik Shirai goes inside the Yoshida Brewery, a 144-year-old family-owned company in northern Japan, to capture the traditional saké-making process in The Birth of Saké, which earned him a Special Jury Mention for Best New Documentary Director at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. The film has its national broadcast premiere on the POV (Point of View) documentary series on PBS on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016 at 10 p.m. (Check local listings.) Now in its 29th season, POV is American television’s longest-running independent documentary series and the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.