Going Beyond Headlines

June 3, 2009

IFC Films
IFC Films

The Lemon Tree is a 2008 Israeli film follows a Palestinian woman’s fight to keep her lemon grove to the Israeli High Court. Released internationally on April 17th, this film has already garnered widespread acclaim for its emotional and nuanced storytelling, focusing on the Palestinian struggle to hold onto livelihood and identity—in short, their human rights.

Actress Hiam Abbass stars as Salma, a widowed Palestinian whose only source of income is the lemonade from her lemon grove. At the film’s start, the Israeli Defense Minister moves into the mansion next door. His security forces zero in on Salma’s lemon grove as a potential security threat (providing terrorists with perfect cover) and order it to be taken down. She decides to fight the decision, and with the help of a young Palestinian lawyer, takes the case to the Israeli Supreme Court.

What’s great about this film is its desire to blur the lines and truly cultivate its characters. Too often, human rights violations become a matter of numbers and statistics, so it’s certainly refreshing to be able to put a face and a story to the headline. “I think people want to see into the psyche of the people,” said Eran Riklis, the film’s director, to Haaretz. “It’s about people trapped in a deadlock. It tells a story, shows you emotions and glides through a complex, delicate situation in an explosive setting.”

Check out a trailer for the film:

Samah Choudhury contributed to this post