Skip to content

Posts tagged ‘Palestine’

Can a lemon ever just be a lemon?

In her last post, Kuhu talked about how she noticed the way some Israeli films she saw “[told] small, personal stories that were carefully imbricated in a culture of pervasive political strife.” Sometimes I wonder if Israeli films that are made (in part) for global consumption inevitably contain this dynamic in that it seems that any narrative film which depicts individuals associated with a particular national identity are always experienced as allegories. That is, an Israeli in a political film is always standing in for all Israelis and the larger political situation. In this way, the multifunctional roles of the characters in a film like Lemon Tree—as both metaphors of power relations and sincere figures within the diegetic narrative—always contain a central tension between the individual as a unique entity and the individual as a manifestation and representation of the larger political forces which he or she symbolizes. Read more

Fiver Years Hence: Watching and Rewatching Eran Riklis’s “Lemon Tree”

Eran Riklis’s 2008 film Etz Lemon (Lemon Tree) seemed to me, at first, a fairly tangential fit into Cinematheque’s Food and Feast series, but as I went back to an interview with Riklis, I noticed his insistent attachment to the metaphor of the lemons to tell his story, and it seemed to be an entry-point to watch an overtly political film in a food and feast series. I first watched Lemon Tree at a film festival in New Delhi in 2008. The festival had a section dedicated to films from Israel and Palestine, and was showing films like Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir and Eran Kolirin’s hilarious comedy The Band’s Visit, among others. I was struck by the fact that a majority of Israeli films were deeply critical of Israel’s occupation of Palestine and had found evocative ways of telling small, personal stories that were carefully imbricated in a culture of pervasive political strife. Read more

Christian Symbolism in Palestinian Cinema

At a pivotal moment in Hany Abu Assad’s Paradise Now (2005), the soon to be “suicide” bombers, Said (Kais Nashef) and Khaled (Ali Suliman), undergo ritual purification: Their hair is cut, their limbs are washed, their bodies are transmuted into holy vessels. Interspersed between these images of cleansing are shots which feature the preparation of a bomb. The jarring juxtaposition serves to reveal the transition of the individual corpus to a body politic, metonymic of both religious and nationalistic discourses. The culmination of this process arrives in an image where Said, Khaled, and their cohort gather around a table in a mise-en-scene reminiscent of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. (This is not an unprecedented ploy, of course, as it was used, amongst others, by Bunuel in Viridiana and Altman in M.A.S.H.) While many critics have picked up on this obvious allusion, few have commented on the incongruity of evoking a primal Christian scene in a religious-national setting so closely associated with (Sunni) Islam. Read more