Monday, February 17, 2014

"Zaytoun": a Palestinian boy helps a downed Israeli fighter pilot escape from the PLO in 1982 war

There have been a lot of films recently about social injustices around the world, but the British-Israeli thriller “Zaytoun”, directed by Eran Riklia and written by Nader Rizq, a Palestinian-American, probes the 1982 war in Lebanon for an adventure coming out of conflict. The word refers to a Palestinian farming cooperative in the olive tree business.
Yoni (Stephen Dorff), an Isareli fighter pilot, is shot down over Beirut and captured by the PLO. 
Whimsically, a Palestinian boy Fahed (Abdallah El Alak), who has lost his dad to an air attack, has pretended to shoot down a fighter at the same time; we don’t know if his rifle shot really worked.  They meet at the PLO hangout; in one altercation, Yoni has minor injuries and winds up in an infirmary.  Their hostility breaks, and soon Fahed agrees to help Yoni escape if Yoni will lead Fahed to his dad’s home in Palestine. 

The film becomes a road adventure, with the spectacular scenery of the arid mountains in Lebanon.  At one point, Fahed nearly releases a mine. 

The soundtrack has some music by John Travolta from “Saturday Night Fever”, specifically “Staying Alive”, which itself became a cosmetically controversial Travolta film in 1985.

Strand Releasing’s site for the film is here.  I watched it from a private Vimeo screener.  The DVD becomes available Feb. 18.   

The European distributor is Pathe.

The concept of the story reminds me of a novel from the late 70s, "An Affair of Strangers", by John Croshy, advertised heavily when it came out;  I don't recall a movie of it.
Wikipedia attribution link for NASA image of Lebanon from space. 

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