In the wake of Israel's 2006 bombardment of Lebanon, a determined woman finds her way into the country convincing a taxi cab driver to take a risky journey around the scarred region in search of her sister and her son.
Nada Abou Farhat,
About a Palestinian girl of 17 who wants to get married to the man of her own choosing. Rana wakes up one morning to an ultimatum delivered by her father: she must either choose a husband ... See full summary »
Suleiman, an eleven year old Palestinian boy, lives in a small village in the Gaza strip. Every month, he goes with his father to the ruins of a destroyed village. Though he doesn't ... See full summary »
Abdallah El Akal,
Hussein Yassin Mahajne,
Beirut, 1982: a young Palestinian refugee helps an Israeli fighter pilot escape from PLO captivity because he wants to visit his ancestral family home. En route through war-torn Lebanon their relationship develops into a close bond.
Abdallah El Akal,
The film reflects the pessimistic mood of the immediate post Gulf War era. It adapts a sad short story by the poet and former Arab League ambassador Ibrahim Shokrallah and intercuts it with... See full summary »
Salma Zidane, a widow, lives simply from her grove of lemon trees in the West Bank's occupied territory. The Israeli defense minister and his wife move next door; the Secret Service orders the trees removed for security. The stoic Salma seeks assistance from the Palestinian Authority (useless), Israeli army (dismissive), and a young attorney, Ziad Daud, who takes the case; this older client attracts him. While the courts deliberate, the Israelis fence her trees and prohibit her from entering the grove. As the trees wither, the defense minister's wife and, separately, an Israeli journalist, look on Salma with sympathy. In this allegory, does David stand a chance against Goliath? Written by
Etz Limon (2008) directed by Eran Riklis, was shown in the United States with the title "Lemon Tree." (Don't confuse the film with a popular novel that has the same title.) The plot of the story is simple enough. The Israeli defense minister moves into a home located right next to a lemon grove owned by a Palestinian woman. Israeli security agents decide that the grove presents a hazard to the minister and his wife, and declare that the lemon trees must be destroyed. The Palestinian woman fights the destruction of her livelihood and her legacy.
Although the basic plot of "Lemon Tree" is simple, the movie is complex. There are fascinating interactions between the woman--Salma Zidane, played by the incomparable Hiam Abbass--and her lawyer and her children. The defense minister has a edgy relationship with his wife. (His wife is basically a fair and caring woman, and isn't supportive of the grove's destruction, but she also likes being married to a powerful, charismatic public figure.) The defense minister is obviously very close to a beautiful young aide, and the movie suggests that they're having an affair.
Although the film is clearly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, all of the Palestinians aren't portrayed as perfect individuals. One local Palestinian leader doesn't suggest any course of action for Salma, but warns her not to accept compensation from the Israelis. Refusal to accept compensation probably makes sense as a political strategy. However, without compensation, what options are open to a widow whose sole livelihood is taken from her?
To me, the saddest part of the movie was the failure of Salma and the minister's wife Mira (Rona Lipaz-Michael) to ever meet face to face. On several occasions in the film they almost meet, but the meeting never actually takes place. Symbolically, that failure to communicate on a personal level represents the Israeli-Palestinian dilemma. They are figuratively and literally unable to speak to each other, and therefore they can never move beyond stereotypes and hostility.
We saw this film at the excellent Rochester Jewish Film Festival. However, it would work well on the small screen. It's an extraordinary film, and definitely worth seeking out.
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