Based not so much on a single true story as a number of similar real-life events, this powerfully affecting Israeli-German-French drama uses the tale of a battle of wills between a Palestinian widow and an Israel politician as a parable for the troubled cross border relations. When the recently appointed defence minister Israel Navron (Doron Tavory) moves into his new home on the border he orders the lemon tree grove on the other side of the security fence to be chopped down for fear that it will be used by terrorists as cover for an attack. But he doesn’t reckon on the strenuous resistance from the owner of the grove, Salma Zidane (Hiam Abbass), a proud woman who’s fiercely determined to save her beloved late husband’s prize orchard.
Lemon Tree reunites excellent Israel-born Palestinian actress Abbass (recently seen in The Visitor) with Israeli filmmaker Eran Riklis (director of the 1991 international hit Cup Final). The pair previously collaborated on 2004’s The Syrian Bride, and like that film (set in a Druze village in the Golan Heights) Lemon Tree deals with the difficult subject of Arab-Israeli relations in a very accessible way by focusing on personal stories played out against a political backdrop. Here, Salma’s the sympathetic protagonist and Navron the malevolent antagonist, but the film avoids a black and white view of Middle East relations by bringing into play other characters, namely Navron’s compassionate wife (Rona Lipz-Michael) and a wily Palestinian lawyer (Ali Suliman).
Cameo, Edinburgh and selected release from Fri 26 Dec.