'King's Speech' producer Gareth Unwin on board

LONDON — Stephen Dorff has been tapped for the lead in U.K.-Israeli co-production “Zaytoun,” directed by Eran Riklis (“Lemon Tree”).

Dorff will play an Israeli fighter pilot shot down over Beirut in 1982. He meets a 10-year-old Palestinian refugee and their distrust soon develops into friendship as they make their way across war-torn Lebanon to a place they both call home.

Script is penned by Palestinian scribe Nader Rizq.

Pic will be co-produced by Gareth Unwin’s Bedlam Prods. (“The King’s Speech”) and Fred Ritzenberg’s Far Films.

Ritzenberg developed the project and brought it to Unwin at the Dubai Film Festival in 2010.

“Zaytoun,” which begins lensing in Israel on March 12, is the first pic to take advantage of the new U.K.-Israel co-production treaty.

Pathe Films is handling international sales rights and distribution for French-speaking territories, while United King is handling Israeli distribution rights.

Prominent Pictures, H.W. Buffalo, BUF in Paris and the British Film Company are onboard as equity partners, while the BFI Film Fund and British Film Company supported the project’s development.

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