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Lemon Tree (2008)

Etz Limon (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, War | 27 March 2008 (Israel)
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2:29 | Trailer
The story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemontree field when a new Israeli Defense Minister moves next to her and threatens to have her lemon grove torn down.

Director:

Eran Riklis

Writers:

Suha Arraf (screenplay), Eran Riklis (screenplay)
8 wins & 12 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Hiam Abbass ... Salma Zidane
Rona Lipaz-Michael Rona Lipaz-Michael ... Mira Navon
Ali Suliman ... Ziad Daud
Doron Tavory ... Defense Minister Israel Navon
Tarik Kopty ... Abu Hussam (as Tarik Copti)
Amos Lavi ... Commander Jacob (as Amos Lavie)
Amnon Wolf ... Leibowitz
Liron Baranes Liron Baranes ... Gilad
Smadar Jaaron Smadar Jaaron ... Tamar Gera (as Smadar Yaaron)
Danny Leshman Danny Leshman ... Private Itamar 'Quickie'
Ayelet Robinson ... Shelly
Amos Tamam ... Simon Hasson
Loai Nofi ... Nasser Zidane (as Loai Noufi)
Hili Yalon ... Sigi Navon
Makram Khoury ... Abu Kamal (as Makram J. Khoury)
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Storyline

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 <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

An analogy on the Gaza strip wall.

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Israel | Germany | France

Language:

Arabic | Hebrew | English

Release Date:

27 March 2008 (Israel) See more »

Also Known As:

Lemon Tree See more »

Filming Locations:

Djelazoun, West Bank, Israel See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$14,602, 19 April 2009

Gross USA:

$569,672

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,387,488
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Title Card: [last title card]
[after the end credits]
Title Card: Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
See more »

Crazy Credits

After the end credits are over, the theme song's chorus "Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat" is shown on screen. See more »

Connections

References Desperate Housewives (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Everything Is Open
Written by Naomi Shemer
Performed by Einat Saruf, The Minister of Defense and all the party guests
Arranged by Tamir Harpaz
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit de-da de-da?
6 July 2008 | by Chris_DockerSee all my reviews

At its heart, Lemon Tree has the simplistic Blue Peter logic of many a Middle-East Conflict Film. There might be bureaucracies, politics, religion and culture in the way, but if ordinary people could just talk to each . . .

The 'ordinary people' are also usually those disenfranchised in a cross-cultural way. In Bridge Over the Wadi, they were children. In Lemon Tree, it is women who pick up the, 'if only we could live together' banner.

Salma is a Palestinian widow. She has lived on the green line border between Israel and the West Bank for decades. She tends a lemon grove. Handed down to her through generations. She barely scrapes an existence from it, but it is her whole world.

On the opposite side, the Israeli Defense Minister moves into a big new house facing her lemon grove. The Israeli security forces declare the proximity of Salma's trees a security threat. They issue orders to uproot them. Salma engages Ziad Daud, a Palestinian lawyer. They go to the Israeli Supreme Court to try to save the trees.

Meanwhile, Mira Navon, the Defense Minister's wife, is trapped in her luxurious new home but pretty miserable. She feels increasingly sympathetic to Salma's plight. Hubby makes public expressions of concern, but says he cannot go against the recommendations of security forces.

As an interim measure, Salma is prevented from entering the grove. The trees start to shrivel. This disparity is highlighted when the Navons throw a lavish party, with 'authentic Egyptian food.' But realise that that the caterer hasn't brought lemons. It seems a minor matter to pick up a few lemons from the adjoining grove . . .

With films like this, it is always tempting to look for bias. Although it was part-funded by the Israeli Film Council that doesn't make it pro-Israeli in this case. It's based on a true stories but (as always) there will be claims that it is too 'pro-Palestinian' or 'pro-Israeli' in the telling. Director Eran Riklis was born in Jerusalem, raised in USA, Canada and Brasil, graduated from film school in England, and now lives in Tel Aviv. He claims his film is, "about solitude as it is reflected in the lives of two women."

One of the film's main contributions is to explain the impossible deadlock and how both sides are pretty powerless, given their institutions, to change much. The Israeli Supreme Court verdict, when it comes, is gut-wrenching. But Palestinian officialdom seems more worried about propriety than the widow's attempts to protect her property. It is all superficially civilised. Lemon Tree initially disappoints me for not being more hard-hitting on political themes. But given how the politics of both sides can be excruciatingly tedious, Riklis has made a wise choice in turning real life political drama into a simple human interest story. In that, it Lemon Tree achieves something of a microcosm for the disputes. But does the film make creative and constructive inroads, or is it simply a pleasant and aesthetic way of not coming to terms?

Most of the comments I hear about how remarkably even-handed it is have come from liberal Israeli commentators. And there is much truth in their view. But a gulf still exists. There are no end of projects (and movies) focussing on peace initiatives between the two sides. Palestinians are often unhappy that such projects ignore the inequalities between them and Israeli Jews. Or act as a conscience-salve for the Israelis. "Existence first, co-existence later", has became a common Palestinian slogan. Lemons are a major crop in the area. They need a lot of water. Just like Salma, banished from her own grove, the Palestinians do not control their own water supply. Just like Salma, in times of crisis, they may lack the means of survival. Palestinians seeing Lemon Tree may agree about its even-handedness. Yet, like Salma, leave a little less sanguine about the value of emotional empathy between the two women. Or so sympathetic to the understanding Mira. Yet in the festering political deadlock, films of such beauty are still better than nothing.


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