Stephen Dorff to star in 'Zaytoun'

LONDON -- Stephen Dorff has been tapped for the lead role in U.K.-Israeli co-production "Zaytoun," directed by "Lemon Tree" helmer Eran Riklis.

In the pic, which is co-produced by "The King's Speech" producer Gareth Unwin's Bedlam Prods. and Fred Ritzenberg's Far Films, Dorff will play David, an Israeli fighter pilot shot down over Beirut in 1982.

He eventually forms an unlikely alliance with a 10-year-old Palestinian refugee and their initial 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.

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

"Zaytoun," which begins lensing in Israel on March 12, marks the first pic to take advantage of the newly ratified 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 boarded the pic as equity partners, while the BFI Film Fund and British Film Company supported the project's development.