‘Peace by Chocolate,’ starring Syria’s Hatem Ali, to bow at Tribeca

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Uplifting refugee drama “Peace by Chocolate,” which marks the last film starring late great Syrian actor and director Hatem Ali, is set to world premiere at the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival.

UTA Independent Film Group will be handling world sales on the English-language pic, which is directed by Canadian first-timer Jonathan Keijser and will bow as part of the fest’s online Tribeca at Home presentations announced today.

“Peace by Chocolate” is based on the true story of Tareq Hadhad who fled from war-torn Syria with his family and founded a now booming chocolate business in Canada called Peace by Chocolate.

The protag’s father is played by Hatem Ali, who passed away prematurely last December at 58. Ali was known across the Arab world as both an actor and the influential director of political TV dramas such as “The Long Night,” about three dissidents released from a Syrian prison after 20 years of incarceration.

The Hadhad family’s chocolate factory in Damascus, Syria, was destroyed by bombing in 2012. They fled to a refugee camp in Lebanon and in 2016 wound up in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where they started making chocolate again, initially selling it at the farmers’ market in this tiny rural town before landing a nationwide distribution deal with a grocery store retailer.

Syrian newcomer Ayham Abou Ammar plays Tareq, who is is torn “between following his dream to become a doctor and preserving his family’s chocolate legacy,” according to promotional materials.

Syrian stars Yara Sabri (“Samarqand”) and Najlaa Al Khamri also star in “Peace by Chocolate,” as well as Canadian veterans Mark Camacho (“Trickster”); Arthur Holden (“Arthur”); Kathryn Kirkpatrick (“Sacred Lies”) and Alika Autran (“Altered Carbon”).

“Peace By Chocolate” is produced by Martin Paul-Hus, Catherine Leger, and Kathy Wolf via director Jonathan Keijser’s Los Angeles-based Magnetic North Pictures. The executive producer on the pic is Chadi Dali.

The Tribeca Film Festival will run June 9-20 as an in-person event also comprising an online component.

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