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Israeli wins Berlin film award

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An Israeli-born filmaker took a top award at a Berlin film festival.

Eran Riklis was presented Sunday with the prestigious Panorama Audience Award at this year’s Berlinale International Film Festival for his film, “Lemon Tree.”

The film, an Israeli-German-French co-production, tells the story of a widow, Salma Zidane, played by Israel-Palestinian actress Hiam Abbas, who wakes up in her West Bank home to find she has new neighbors: the Israeli Minister of Defense, played by Doron Tavery, and his wife, actress Rona Lipaz-Michael.

When the minister insists that Zidane’s lemon orchard be razed as a security precaution, the Palestinian woman fights all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court to protect her most precious inheritance from her father. She finds an unexpected ally in the minister’s wife.

Riklis said he intended the film to be entertaining, while probing ways in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out on a grass-roots level.

The director was born in Jerusalem in 1954. Among his most famous films are “Cup Final” (1992) and “The Syrian Bride” (2004).

The Panoramo award, which reflects voting by audience members, is sponsored by Radioeins of RBB, Berlin-Brandenburg’s public radio and television broadcasting station, and Berlin’s city magazine, tip, in collaboration with the Berlinale’s Panorama section.

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