Peace By Chocolate – a Canadian story about Syrian chocolate
Peace By Chocolate tells the story of a Syrian family’s experience coming to Canada, after losing everything they owed back home. After the bombing of his father’s chocolate factory, a charming young Syrian refugee struggles to settle into his new Canadian small-town life in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He’s caught between heading to the big city to follow his dream to become a doctor, or preserving his family’s chocolate-making legacy. Based on the internationally recognized true story.
Available from Level 33 Entertainment
PEACE BY CHOCOLATEis written and directed by Jonathan Keijser (What Would Beethoven Do?) and starring the late Hatem Ali (The Long Night, Saqr Qoraish, Four Seasons), Mark Camacho (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Punisher: War Zone, Shattered Glass), Ayham Abou Ammar (Peace By Chocolate), Yara Sabri (“Samargand,” “Al Fawaris”), Kathryn Kirkpatrick (Okja, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), Mark Hachem (Visions, “Dating Beyond Borders”), Najla Al-Khamri (“The Neighbourhood’s Gate).
Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Jonathan Keijser is an award-winning storyteller with a strong focus on creating socially conscious content. As a film and theatre director, screenwriter and professionally-trained musician, Jonathan is committed to sharing compelling stories of progressive communities and people, with the goal of helping encourage positive social change in the world.
Before his career in film, Jonathan founded a not-for-profit theatre company for emerging artists in Montreal, Canada, where he directed fully-staged Broadway productions, including Into The Woods & Cabaret. Both received critical acclaim. Pat Donnelly of the Montreal Gazette called Keijser “a promising young director” and described his shows as “packing an unusually powerful punch with a cast that works like a team.” Since then, his films and stage productions have played at over fifty festivals and venues around the world and has been featured in prominent publications including Variety, Deadline, The Atlantic, The Toronto Star, CBC, Mother Jones, and The Montreal Gazette.
Jonathan’s narrative feature film debut, PEACE BY CHOCOLATE, is based on an inspiring true story of a family who immigrated to Canada after their chocolate factory was bombed in the Syrian war and had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2021. After a critically acclaimed launch, it went on to play 30 film festivals worldwide, including the A-list Cairo International Film Festival, Heartland Film Festival, Calgary & Whistler Film Festivals. During its festival run, the film picked up over 12 awards, including multiple honors for Best Juried Film, Audience Award for Best Feature, and Best Director from a panel of Academy® members. Reviewers have praised PEACE BY CHOCOLATE as a “film that you will not only remember, but revisit” and Jonathan’s directing style “like Frank Capra came back from the dead to make a movie in Canada.”
Prior to PEACE BY CHOCOLATE, Jonathan’s feature documentary film debut, WHAT WOULD BEETHOVEN DO?, had its world premiere at the Cleveland International Film Festival, where the film had sold-out screenings and took home an audience award. The film questions why we create art by following three superstar musical renegades as they independently take action to repair the fractured and ailing world of classical music, reinstating its relevancy in the 21st century.
Jonathan believes that in order to inspire and challenge audience perceptions, films must be both emotionally poignant and humorous. To make meaningful impact, stories must go beyond a single point of view approach and allow viewers to draw their own informed conclusions. Instead of providing definitive answers to difficult questions, Jonathan aims to encourage increased awareness to help broaden perspectives as a way to spark curiosity and positive change.
Jonathan holds degrees in classical double bass performance (Bachelor of Music) from McGill University’s Schulich School of Music and in filmmaking (Master of Fine Arts) from the top-rated University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.