Directed by Eran Riklis
Written by Nader Rizq
Starring Stephen Dorff, Alice Taglioni, Ashraf Barhom, Abdallah El Akal
If you like me you sometimes despair of the power of cinema, or how a single inept, obviously inciteful piece of so called ‘film’ is able to inflame a portion of the world to murderous violence then the new Israeli / Palestinian drama Zaytoun might just be the perfect antidote to such depressing, reactionary and manufactered reactions. It is 1982, in the period immediately preceding the Lebanon / Israeli conflict, and Israeli fighter pilot Yoni (Dorff) parachutes out of his crashing plane into the hands of Palestinian rebels in Beirut. The PLO have alighted to the country in order to set up up a more stable headquarters, with many Palestinian refugees fleeing to the country, mostly unwelcome and living in squalid camps. The insurgants assign the task of safeguarding their immensely precious hostage to a group of children, led by the resourceful young Fahed who is initially the most aggressive towards their desperate captive, yet events led them to a mutual understanding and a shared goal of escaping Beirut and return home, Yoni to see his pregnant wife and Fahed to plant the olive tree his now slain father liberated from their farm home before they were displaced.
Although the symbolism is rather heavy handed at times and the initial conflation of shared goals seems rather unconvinvcing as this film proceeds the bond between this unlikely brotherhood deepens and Zaytoun melds into a soothing drama, both refugees yearning for a human, immediate connection between their two creeds whom have been murderously and ideologically divorced by a seemingly impossible resolution over a half decade of ignorance and violence