Magazine article Screen International

Eran Riklis, Zaytoun

Magazine article Screen International

Eran Riklis, Zaytoun

Article excerpt

The director talks about working with Stephen Dorff, going beyond the headlines, and discovering child actors.

Eran Riklis adds to what he calls his 'Middle East Cycle' (after The Syrian Bride and Lemon Tree) with Zaytoun, the story of an unlikely road trip undertaken between an Israeli fighter pilot (Stephen Dorff) and a Palestinian boy (Abedallah El Akal) in 1982. The film premieres in Toronto today; Pathe handles sales. The project is produced by Gareth Unwin (The King's Speech) and Fred Ritzenberg.

Up next for Riklis will be another Middle Eastern story, Dancing Arabs, plus a bigger-budget European-set thriller.

What was it with this story that you connected to?

You have these horrible situations which are part of life in the Middle East, and sometimes you can go down to eye level and forget about political conceptions and prejudice, bad history and blood, and bring it into something simple, accessible and understandable. It's a glimpse behind the headlines, into lives of people.

What drew you to cast Stephen Dorff?

With Stephen, there was something about his physique and his type, and I thought, I know a lot of pilots like that. Stephen's talent and ambition are to be very precise. We worked a lot on giving this character a world, even if you don't see it, you feel it. …

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