Lemon Tree

Lemon Tree

5.0 1
Director: Eran Riklis

Cast: Eran Riklis, Hiam Abbass, Ali Suliman, Rona Lipaz-Michael


Widow and empty nester Salma Zidane lives on the Palestinian West Bank, in a little house flanked by lemon trees planted by her great grand parents. Unfortunately, when the Israeli minister of defense builds a house adjacent to her own, her lemon trees are deemed a security risk. Salma hires a lawyer to prevent the powerful man from having her ancestral trees removed,… See more details below


Widow and empty nester Salma Zidane lives on the Palestinian West Bank, in a little house flanked by lemon trees planted by her great grand parents. Unfortunately, when the Israeli minister of defense builds a house adjacent to her own, her lemon trees are deemed a security risk. Salma hires a lawyer to prevent the powerful man from having her ancestral trees removed, but the odds are stacked against her, and to make matters worse, she begins to fall in love with her lawyer. Things seem bleak, but it looks like hope could shine in from an unexpected source, when the minister's neglected wife develops sympathy for Salma's plight.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
With the haunting Lemon Tree, director Eran Riklis continues to demonstrate why he is one of the most exciting filmmakers in Israeli cinema. Riklis begins with the most straightforward premise -- that of a Palestinian woman whose cherished grove of lemon trees risks being cut down by the Israeli establishment -- and handles it so gracefully, poetically, and even-handedly that he elevates this material to the level of a masterwork, blessed with levels of complexity and ambiguity. The character in question, a middle-aged widow named Salma Zidane (Hiam Abbass), has the misfortune of not merely living in the volatile "Green Zone" -- a kind of no man's land sandwiched in between Israel and the Palestinian-occupied West Bank -- but being situated merely a few hundred yards away from the home of the Israeli defense minister, Israel Navon (Doron Tavory), and his wife, Mira (Rona Lipaz-Michael). Under advisement from the Israeli secret service, Navon begins to perceive Salma's lemon grove as a direct threat to the safety of the nation, with its ability to function as a hiding spot for terrorists. Not long after, a court order surfaces, forcing Salma to accept government compensation for the destruction of the grove. She passionately refuses -- explaining that the plot of land and the trees have existed in her family for generations -- and hires a young attorney, Ziad Daud (Ali Suliman), to take the case all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court if necessary. This is a story that could easily seem inconsequential and even naïve in maladroit hands, because from the beginning, we completely understand the defense minister's decision for eliminating the grove. From a military standpoint, given the prevalence of suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism in the region, the razing of the grove does seem necessary -- and what is the simple pride of one woman vis-à-vis the sanctity, fortitude, and existence of the entire country? To Riklis's credit, however, our sympathies begin to broaden as the story unfurls; even if we continue to grasp the logic behind the Israeli government's decision, Abbass pulls us inside of Salma's turmoil and makes it palpable for us. The actress' performance astonishes on many levels, particularly because it relies so little on dialogue. With her lined, pained face and deep-set, haunted, and scarred eyes, Abbass projects Salma's trembling rage and indignation at the injustice before her and guides us into unbridled empathy with the character, which by itself accounts for the film's fundamental success. Yet, to be certain, Lemon Tree is not a politically biased film, and therein lies its maturity and wisdom. The Israelis pictured onscreen earn no less sympathy than the Palestinians. Though Navon fully commits to his duty as defense minister, he projects a warm congeniality (even his wife acknowledges that all he wants is to make peace with the Palestinians), while Mira continually reveals her deep-seated concern about the consequences of her husband's decisions and her innate compassion for Salma, and even begins to make overtures of friendship to Salma. These moments carry touching and moving overtones, accentuated by the gentle and intriguing parallels that Riklis sets up between the women's lives. What we have here is the tale of generally kind, decent, and loving people on opposite sides of the political fence who have been thrust into a complicated situation that sets them at enmity with one another. For a story that revolves around such a simple conceit, Riklis casts a wide gaze, and from time to time he lets details slip into the narrative that give us a picture of additional sociopolitical constraints, beyond the scope of those immediately apparent -- restrictions that bind his characters to a specific course of action. The best example arrives courtesy of a subplot -- the subtle but heart-rending love story that blossoms between Ziad and Salma. In a critical scene, Salma's brother-in-law turns up and warns her of dire consequences should she betray her late husband's memory via involvement with Ziad. The maxim seems cruel, unjust, and absurd, but (when coupled with occasional cutaways to Salma's husband's evil-looking, scowling face, staring down at her from a wall photograph) it casts a telling light on the socially oriented gender constraints that have bound the poor Salma for most of her life. Riklis also commands attention via the grace of his cinematographic approach; he laces the motion picture with moments of great visual poetry, such as a wondrous sequence where Salma wakes up in her bed, bathed in moonlight, with the shadow of a lemon tree cast against her as its fruits begin to drop to the ground. All told, visual details such as this work in tandem with the director's confident, exceptionally mature treatment of this material, and turn what could have been a routine exercise in political propaganda into a thought-provoking, aesthetically rich chronicle of troubled lives set against the backdrop of a complex and beleaguered region.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Ifc Independent Film
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Hiam Abbass Salma Zidane
Ali Suliman Ziad Daud
Rona Lipaz-Michael Mira Navon
Doron Tavory Defense Minister Israel Navon
Tarak Kopty Abu Hussam
Amos Lavie Captain Jacob
Amnon Wolf Leibowitz
Smadar Yaaron Tamar Gera
Liron Baranes Gilad
Ayelet Robinson Shelly
Danny Leshman Private Quickie
Makram Khoury Abu Kamal
Loai Nofi Nasser Zidane
Hili Yalon Sigi Navon
Michael Warshaviak Attorney Braverman
Amos Tamam Actor

Technical Credits
Eran Riklis Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Suha Arraf Screenwriter
Tova Ascher Editor
Yael Aviv Casting
Bettina Brokemper Producer
Herve Buirette Sound/Sound Designer
Martine de Clermont-Tonnere Producer
Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre Producer
Rona Doron Costumes/Costume Designer
Michael Eckelt Producer
Moshe Edery Executive Producer
Leon Edery Executive Producer
Habib Shehadeh Hanna Score Composer
Rainer Klausmann Cinematographer
Miguel Merkin Production Designer
Ashi Milo Sound/Sound Designer
Ira Riklis Co-producer
Marcia Riklis Associate Producer
David Silber Executive Producer
Gil Toren Sound/Sound Designer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Lemon Tree
1. New Neighbor [5:49]
2. Among the Lemons [5:28]
3. Notice [4:35]
4. No Help [3:43]
5. The Lawyer [4:05]
6. Pretty Neighbor [4:23]
7. The Court's Decision [5:00]
8. A New Barrier [5:53]
9. All I've Got [4:17]
10. A Night Together [5:22]
11. Tidying up [5:14]
12. A Higher Court [5:01]
13. A Few Lemons [5:05]
14. The DM's Party [6:29]
15. The Newspaper [5:49]
16. International Coverage [4:46]
17. Time To Think [5:28]
18. Getting Ready [5:19]
19. The Rulling [4:12]
20. Moving On [4:50]
21. End Credits [5:17]


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