Stephen Dorff Joins Cast of First U.K./Israel Co-Production

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Eran Riklis' "Zaytoun" is produced by Oscar-winner Gareth Unwin and written by Palestinian scribe Nader Rizq.

LONDON – Stephen Dorff and Alice Taglioni are to star alongside Loai Nofi (Lemon Tree), Tarik Kopty (Lemon Tree), Ashraf Barhom (The Kingdom) and Ali Suliman (Body of Lies) in Eran Riklis’ U.K./Israel co-production Zaytoun.

Oscar-winning producer Gareth Unwin (The King’s Speech) is producing under his Bedlam Productions the movie developed by Fred Ritzenberg of FAR Films with Riklis from a script penned by Palestinian scribe Nader Rizq.

STORY: Oscar-Winning Producer Gareth Unwin Sets Up First U.K./Israel Co-Production

Jony Arbid (For My Father) and singer and actress Mira Awad has also signed for the movie which will begin shooting in Israel next month and features newcomcer Abdallah El Akel as the story’s Palestinian boy.

The script details the story of the unlikely alliance between a ten-year-old Palestinian refugee and an Israeli fighter pilot shot down over Beirut in 1982. Their duo’s initial distrust develops into friendship as they make their way across war-torn Lebanon on a journey to a place they both call home.

French-speaking territories and international sales rights are being handled by Pathé and United King is handling Israeli distribution rights.

H.W. Buffalo and British Film Company have joined as equity partners on the project.

BUF in Paris will also be providing post production services.

The project was supported by the BFI Film Fund and British Film Company during its development stage and the film will be the first film to take advantage of the newly ratified U.K.-Israel Film Coproduction Treaty.

Riklis said: “After The Syrian Bride and Lemon Tree, I thought I completed my ‘Middle East Cycle’ but the fact is that as an Israeli director I feel it's my duty to touch on the pain, sorrow and complexity of this region, to offer some hope and optimism and to shine a light on the human drama behind and beyond the news headlines".