The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war was treated as the symbolic moment of Israel's loss of moral authority in two important films of the past few years, Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir (2008) and Samuel Maoz's Lebanon (2009). It gets a decidedly different and lighter treatment in Zaytoun, Eran Ricklis's road/buddy movie about a shot-down Israeli pilot (Stephen Dorff, in a solid performance) and a Palestinian adolescent, Fahed (Abdallah El Akal). As initially uncomfortable as the premise seems, Ricklis manages to weave a tale of decency overcoming hatred without diminishing the horrors of the conflict. Early scenes show Fahed and his friends frolicking outside the Palestinian refugee camp, selling cigarettes and gum on the streets of Beirut, before they are snatched up for training by the Palestinian militia. Fahed, inspired by stories of his late father, agrees to help the captive Israeli soldier escape, on the promise he helps take him to the place that both of them think of as home. Narrow escapes and even some humour characterize the long, precarious journey, set against a stunning desert landscape in this generous film that, to its credit, does not pretend the brief friendship is anything but a temporary truce.
Sunday, Sept. 16, 3:45 p.m., TIFF Bell Lightbox 2