New Middle East Cinema
dir. Eran Riklis, Israel, 2012, 110 min.
In 1982, amid the Lebanese Civil War, Israeli pilot Yoni (Stephen Dorff) is shot down over Beirut and is taken prisoner by inhabitants of a Palestinian refugee camp. Among the captors is ten-year-old Fahed, whose father obsessively tends to his prized, but sickly olive tree, refusing to replant it until they return to their ancestral land. Despite his deep-rooted hatred for Yoni, Fahed realizes he can use him to get past the border and into Palestine to plant his father’s olive tree. The two embark on a harrowing and dangerous journey – one that tests the very boundaries of humanity. Zaytoun is a story of survival, reconciliation and friendship.
"Zaytoun is a road movie, a war movie, a buddy movie. I wanted it to be serious and yet full of humor, realistic and yet a fantasy, true to the region and yet universal. I believe the result is all of the above with my view of the fragile, explosive, pessimistic, seldom optimistic fabric of the Middle East and its never ending conflicts." - director Eran Riklis
The Cinema Studies Program, the Jewish
Studies Program, the Middle East Center, and the Near Eastern Languages &
Civilizations Department at the University of Pennsylvania, in collaboration
with the Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival and International House
Philadelphia, present the 2013 edition of New Middle East Cinema. Recently released feature films, which
represent a large number of countries in the region, have been selected as the
best to be presented and discussed to further the understanding of current
Middle Eastern societies and cultures through cinema.