Is watching more in-depth, poignant films on your list of resolutions for 2015? We were inspired by Huffington Post’s list of 10 must-see movies from the Arab World and thought we would make a list of films starring one of our favorite Palestinian actresses: Hiam Abbass.
1) Lemon Tree (2008) – The film Lemon Tree tells the story of a Palestinian woman (Hiam Abbass) living on her late father’s lemon grove alone. When the Israeli Defense Minister moves in next door, a series of events ensues where he tries to ensure his and his wifes’ safety by cutting down the trees, seizing the land and having soldiers guard and patrol the grove from above. The Palestinian widow does not take this lightly, and does all she can to protect her land and her dignity. The film received various nominations at the European Film Awards, such as best screenwriter and best actress.
2) Amreeka (2009) – A independent comedic drama that chronicles the lives of a Palestinian woman and her son as they finally get their papers processed to move to the US, Amreeka gives an accurate portrayal of some of the struggles and nuances faced by Arab immigrants when they first come to a new country. Hiam plays the role of the main character’s sister, who already lives in the States. The complex relationship between Palestinians who immigrated and “fresh off the boat” Palestinians is clearly visible in the film, making for a poignant, sometimes challenging story that will resonate with anyone who has emigrated to another country.
3) The Visitor (2008) – An American drama set in New York City after 9/11, the story focuses on a lonely older professor (Richard Jenkins) who spends his time learning piano and halfheartedly working on a book. After being forced to attend a conference in NYC, the professor discovers a couple squatting in his city apartment. Unsure of how to handle the situation, he allows them to stay, unaware that one of them is an illegal immigrant from Syria. Hiam Abbass plays the mother of the immigrant, and the professor and her form an unlikely friendship in which they exchange intimate stories of their lives and bond over feelings of displacement and loss.
4) Inheritance (2012) – Hiam made her directorial debut with this film, which centers around the lives of a Palestinian family living in Galilee. The film’s plot is focused on the wedding of one of the family’s daughters, which occurs amidst battle between Israel and Lebanon. Hiam stated that her goal in this film was to tell the story of Palestinians not living in the Diaspora, but those living in a country they don’t feel a part of, “which is why they try and preserve their identity through a strong family structure which makes them feel at home.”
Have you seen any of these films? Do you have a favorite Hiam Abbass movie? Tell us in the comments below!