© Senator/Central

U.K./Israel/France 2012

Opening 14 Nov 2013

Directed by: Eran Riklis
Writing credits: Nader Rizq
Principal actors: Stephen Dorff, Abdallah El Akal, Ali Suliman

An Israeli military plane is shot down over Beirut in 1982 and Yoni (Stephen Dorff), the pilot, is captured by the PLO. Fahed (Adballah El Akal) is a Palestinian kid who lives with his father and grandfather in a refugee camp. The father’s greatest wish is to be able to return to his homeland to replant the one remaining olive tree/zaytoun) from his orchard, but when he is killed in a bombing incident, Fahed knows that this task will be his responsibility. After his father’s death Fahed turns to the PLO. Whilr he is in charge of overseeing the prisoner Yoni, he shoots out of anger and wounds him. When Yoni is returned to his cell after his short hospital stay, Fahed realizes that Yoni is his only hope for getting out of war-torn Lebanon. He frees him and they flee – first by taxi, then further with a stolen army jeep and a poor old donkey. They are an unlikely pair and what seemed at first to be a purely political movie now graduates to become the story of the unusual friendship. As a team they hike and climb over arid land, Fahed the leader since Yoni is still suffering from his wound. Fahed is protective – seeking their food and even preparing an herbal poultice for the wound. At an abandoned amusement park and then at an area studded with mines the aggressiveness between them lessens.

The ordeal is over when they finally meet UN workers, but the tree is not yet planted. Against the wills of the UN people, Yoni and Fahed take off in a convertible to find Faheh’s family’s village. This is the breakthrough in their relationship. It is almost like a road movie in two parts: first Lebanon and then Israel. And although Fahed’s future is till problematic, they part as equals and again, in this movie as in other such as The Band’s Visit, for example, we see how much connects Israelis and Palestinians. (Thelma Freedman)

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