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Hiam Abbass of THE VISITOR won the Israeli Academy Award as Best Actress for her powerful portrayal of a lonely Palestinian widow who tends her family s West Bank lemon grove. But when the new Israeli Defense Minister and his wife move next door, the government demands that the trees be uprooted. Can two women from opposite sides of the fence find justice in a country and culture divided by intolerance? Ali Suliman (THE KINGDOM) and Rona Lipaz-Michale co-star in this acclaimed drama based on a true story from writer/director Eran Riklis (THE SYRIAN BRIDE) that the The New York Post calls a stunning performance by Abbass and a daring message from Riklis.
Director Eran Riklis makes his home in Tel Aviv, but his films tend to occupy the borders between nations. Co-written with Suha Arraf, Lemon Tree serves as a companion to their previous collaboration, The Syrian Bride. Hiam Abbass from The Visitor returns as Salma Zidane, a widow who tends the family lemon grove along the Green Line dividing Palestine from the West Bank (Arraf and Abbass are both of Palestinian-Israeli descent). When the Israeli defense minister, Israel Navon (Doron Tavory), and his wife, Mira (Rona Lipaz-Michael), move in next door, his security detail advices him to destroy it since terrorists could use the trees for cover. After Navon conveys his intentions, Salma springs into action, hiring a recently-divorced lawyer, Ziad Daud (Ali Suliman, who co-starred with Abbass in Paradise Now), to take her fight to the courts. Initially, Navon has all the power and Salma has none, but Mira, who also suffers from empty nest syndrome, feels for the lonely woman next door--and Ziad finds her compelling in ways that Salma's Palestinian neighbors finds inappropriate (he's younger and rumors link him to a politician's daughter). Then the media gets wind of the skirmish and paints it as a classic David versus Goliath story, but the Israeli Supreme Court will have the final say. Like the The Syrian Bride, Lemon Tree presents a parable about the Middle East, but the characters feel more like real people than cardboard cut-outs, and Abbass commands the screen with her calm, determined presence. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
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Top customer reviews
The silent compassion of the Israeli neighbor,, portrayed by Rona Lipaz-Michael, is convincing as the sensitive yet emotionally trapped (in her own cultural mores and biases) neighbor; yet her failure to to "measure up" to her own feelings of injustice is disheartening. One wonders what point Director, Eran Riklis, intended to convey. Is it to reveal the inertia and ambivalence of many Israelis? Or just to let the story speak for itself? Either way, the story leaves the viewer with indelible images and heart-felt emotions.
This is a rather unique story, which reflects the environment in which so many have to conduct their lives, in spite of the eternal territorial dispute between Palestinian and Israeli "nations" residing in the West Bank zone...
Rona Lipaz-Michael is co-starring in this movie, and I would like to see her more "involved" in this type of Israeli-Palestinian productions, where she could really shine as a star in her own right.
It is a sad movie, but with some light moments, when the human spirit is allowed to express itself freely, not bound by religion or politics, so pervasive in that area of the World. I think of this as a classic, well worth the attention of those who believe in the efforts made by some to get away from the "Hollywood" movies and give all of us a real "picture" of life.
Based on a true story, Selma, a lonely Palestinian widow tends the Family Lemon Grove, which she inherited from her late father.
She spends her days tending to the grove, managing to earn a living, when, with out notice, a Look out tower is plunked down next to and over looking her beloved grove.
She then receives a letter informing her that her new neighbor is the new Israeli Defense Minister and her grove poses a threat to his security, and must be up rooted.
Armed with Sheer determination and a lawyer she will take her case all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court.
Along the way Selma finds a most unlikely Ally.
Director Eran Riklis, who also co-wrote the script, weaves the lives and images of life in Palestine and Israel and of this three thousand year old problem into an impartial morality tell that will Inspire conversation long after the movie is over. The entire cast delivers solid performances, but Hiam Abbass owns every moment of the film. Winner of the Israeli Academy Award For Best Actress.
Winner For Asia Pacific Screen Award Best Actress. Winner for Cinefan - Festival of Asian and Arab Cinema Best Actress.