EXCLUSIVE– Gareth Unwin, producer of “The King’s Speech,” is set to co-produce “Zaytoun,” directed by “Lemon Tree” helmer Eran Riklis.
Pic, which Unwin will produce through his Bedlam Prods. alongside Far Films, is the story of the unlikely alliance between a 10-year old Palestinian refugee and an Israeli fighter pilot shot down over Beirut in 1982.
Their initial distrust develops into friendship as they make their way across war-torn Lebanon to a place they both call home.
Palestinian scribe Nader Risz pens the script while Frederick Ritzenberg of Far Films, who developed the project and brought it to Unwin when they met at the Dubai Film Festival in December, will co-produce.
The $8 million-$10 million project is set against the backdrop of the complex history of the Middle East and is expected to shoot in Israel.
Pic is casting and a sales agent in’t yet attached but Unwin indicated that Bedlam and Far Films would hold onto key territory rights.
“When I first came across the script for ‘Zaytoun’ last year I was blown away,” Unwin said.
“Like ‘The King’s Speech,’ it has a powerful message at its core — that no matter what the surroundings or political backdrop, there is a redemptive quality to friendship that can transcend the boundaries that many treat as barriers.”