Cinefile: New Israeli films at Berlin fest

A new Israeli film opens the Panorama section of the festival, Eran Riklis' Lemon Tree.

lemon tree 88 (photo credit: )
lemon tree 88
(photo credit: )
The Berlin International Film Festival, which began yesterday and which will run until February 17, will have a strong Israeli presence. This is not surprising, considering that festival director Dieter Kosslick attended the Jerusalem Film Festival this summer. A new Israeli film will open the Panorama section of the festival today, Eran Riklis' Lemon Tree. This is a prestigious spot to be shown, and four years ago, Eytan Fox's Walk on Water was the first Israeli film to get this coveted exposure. Riklis last made the critically acclaimed, award-winning The Syrian Bride and like that film, Lemon Tree deals with the closeness and conflicts between Israelis and Arabs. Lemon Tree features one of the stars of Bride, Hiam Abbass, as a Palestinian woman living on the West Bank. When the Israeli prime minister decides to build a house just across the Green Line from hers, her lemon trees are suddenly considered a security hazard and she is ordered to cut them down. But Abbass, who often plays strong characters, challenges this ruling all the way to the Supreme Court. The film also stars Rona Lipaz-Michael, Ali Suliman (who starred in Paradise Now, in which Abbass also appeared), Doron Tavory, and Tarik Copty. Amos Kollek's Restless, which is in the main competition, stars Moshe Ivgy as a frustrated Israeli novelist living in New York who reconnects with the son he left behind. Two Israeli documentaries are being shown in the Forum section. Yoav Shamir's Flipping Out looks at the phenomenon of burned-out soldiers who head to the drug-rave scene in Goa and northern India after their discharge. Natalie Assouline's Brides of Allah examines the lives of Palestinian women arrested trying to carry out suicide bombings in Israel. And, in the Panorama Documentary section, Dror Moreh's Sharon examines what drove the former prime minister to begin to pursue a peace process. A number of Israeli films will be shown as part of the World Cinema Fund Spotlights program, which focuses on movies from countries with developing cinema industries and also funds projects from these nations. Last year, Joseph Cedar won the Silver Bear Award for Best Director for Beaufort at this festival and Israeli films are usually received enthusiastically there. IN ALL the movie awards ceremonies I've attended or watched on television, only one presenter has ever said anything memorable about his work. That was composer/singer Ivri Lider at this year's Ophir Awards, who mentioned that composers usually come in at the end, after the rest of the cast and crew have done their work. The score can either enhance or detract from the finished film, he said, so it's a very delicate job. Two concerts this week will pay tribute to movie composers who wrote the scores we come out of the movie humming. One will be on Wednesday at the Henry Crown Auditorium at the Jerusalem Theater, and the other will be on Thursday, at the Opera House in Tel Aviv. The concerts are part of the Light Classical Music series from the Opera House and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra and will feature the music from Fiddler on the Roof, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, the James Bond films and, of course, The Godfather trilogy, among others. There will also be several selections from Israeli films, including music from Kazablan and The Policeman (Ha Shoter Azoulai), as well as a tribute to the gypsy-themed music of Serbian director Emir Kusturica. Tenor Guy Manheim will sing solo and the concerts will be conducted by composer Omer Valber. Please call the theaters for details. THE POPULAR image of someone suffering from the neurological disorder Tourette Syndrome is of a person cursing incessantly. The truth is far more complicated than that, as Boaz Rosenberg tries to show in his new documentary, Involuntary. It follows two very different young Israeli women who suffer from Tourette over the course of three years. It's showing today and tomorrow at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque (and several more times throughout the month), at the Haifa Cinematheque on February 15 and at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on the 22nd . Anyone interested in Tourette should also see the excellent feature film, The Tic Code, written by Polly Draper, who starred in thirty somethinga and is married to a jazz musician who has Tourette. It's available on DVD.