First-time helmer Lina Makboul, a Swedish journalist of Palestinian descent, finds and interviews the infamous eponymous guerrilla she idolized as a teen in compelling but flawed docu “Leila Khaled, Hijacker.” Pic has already boarded docu fests in Amsterdam and Thessaloniki and could land with broadcasters if film’s sympathetic depiction of a former terrorist doesn’t get in the way.
Using archive footage, pic explains how Leila Khaled, then a 24-year-old, strikingly pretty member of militant Palestinian org the PFLP, bloodlessly hijacked two planes in 1969 and 1970. In the present, helmer Makboul interviews Khaled, now an imposing but charismatic matriarch, who lives with her family in Jordan and works for the Palestinian National Council. Makboul doesn’t ask Khaled, who remains unrepentant, the really tough questions. However, she gets Khaled to let down her guard enough to show a warm personality and to nag helmer to think about having a child when she finishes the film. Interviews with the hijacked planes’ hostages add some journalistic balance, but Makboul’s moderate sympathies with the Palestinian cause are undisguised. Fine editing lifts average tech package.