The Cedar Tree

Institute History

  • 2004 June Screenwriters Lab


When the civil war ends in Lebanon, Rashid decides to return home with his family, after 20 years in America. His son, Rami, refuses to leave his life in the States, and his disobedience so outrages his father that Rashid forbids all communication with him. Rashid returns to his village with his wife Jamila and daughter, Zena. He revives his old friendship with the Mayor, who asks for Zena’s hand on behalf of his son Nagi. Meanwhile, Zena has fallen in love with another, Galal.

Galal asks Rashid’s permission to marry Zena but Rashid refuses him, and instead accepts Nagi's proposal for his daughter. Zena insists on marrying for love but Rashid won’t hear of it. After two strangers attack Galal and order him to stay away from Zena, he and his family move away. Devastated, Zena finally accepts her loss and her fate.

On the day of her engagement to Nagi, the family is stricken when they learn Rami has been killed in a car accident. Rashid returns to America to bring his son's body back to Lebanon. In the States, Rashid discovers Rami’s diary and comes to know his son from the entries. Much to his surprise, he learns Rami was in love with a Lebanese girl, named Nadia, whose father disapproved of him and promised her to another. Despite himself, Rashid cannot help but realize that the situation parallels his own courtship with his wife Jamila – and Zena’s current situation.

Rashid goes on a journey of discovery and enlightenment, learning from the memory of a lost child how to honor and respect the family he still has. Though his belief system is deeply rooted in the traditional Lebanese culture, he must find a way to reconcile that his son had planted his own roots in a very different homeland.


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