Lemon Tree

Starring Hiam Abbas, Doron Tavory, Ali Suliman and Rona Lipaz-Michael. Directed by Eran Riklis
Running Time: 106 mins
Rated: Rated G
For anyone who wants to appreciate different point of view of the state of Israel an d the attitudes towards the Palestinians, this film is well worth seeing. It also contains vividly alarming vistas of the separation wall, higher than one might have thought, a fortress wall keeping people in as well as out.

The plot is both realistic and symbolic. The new Israeli Defence Minister owns a mansion on the border with Palestine on the West Bank, looking straight out on a lemon grove inherited by Salma (Hiam Abbas) from her father. The Israeli Secret Service declare that the grove is a security risk for the Defence Minister, a cover for intrusive terrorists and the military decrees that it should be cut down. Salma takes a firm stand and eventually appeals through various courts up to the supreme court in Jerusalem.

The background to the story is the Israel-Lebanon war of 2006 with its sense of heightened tension. On the Israeli side, the minister is taking his job very seriously while trying to give a genial media impression about the lemons. His lonely wife has more empathy with Salma.

On the Palestinian side, Salma employs an eager young lawyer and finds him personally attractive (while being sternly warned against this by the local Palestinian authorities).

Hiam Abbas (Free Zone and Anna in The Nativity Story) is a woman of great beauty and bearing making Salma a woman of character and significant stature. The drama is movingly humane.

The political interest is in the Israeli courts and the drastic issues of security, the role of the media and the potential for freedom of the media in reporting a more sympathetic Palestinian perspective to an Israeli readership.

But, in the end, the wall cuts through between the minister gazing out at it and Salma on the other side in the grove looking at its looming presence.

Potential Films Out October 9

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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