'The Present' is set in Palestine and stars Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri and Mariam Kanj.
BAFTA 2021 has nominated Palestinian-British filmmaker Farah Nabulsi’s The Present for Best British Short Film.
It will be competing against Miss Curvy by Ghada Eldemellawy, Lizard by Akinola Davies Jr, Lucky Break by John Addis, and Eyelash by Jesse Lewis-Reece.
The film is co-written by Palestinian filmmaker and poet Hind Shoufani and produced by Philistine Films, who will also produce Nabulsi’s upcoming feature debut.
The Present, which marks Nabulsi’s directorial debut, centres around a labourer named Yusuf (played by Saleh Bakri), who sets out one day with his young daughter, Yasmine (played by Mariam Kanj), to get an anniversary gift for his wife.
An unsettling sense of what their celebratory outing might entail is conveyed through the opening scenes of Yusuf’s daily grind of getting to and from work through Checkpoint 300 in Bethlehem – the one scene that was filmed at the actual checkpoint to capture the inhumanity imposed on those who are forced to use it.
Through Nabulsi’s tight, nuanced writing and direction, the characters adeptly show what Israeli checkpoints mean for the tens of thousands of Palestinians who must pass through them daily. Her aim behind the film was to expose the indignity and violence endured daily by connecting with audiences on a human and emotional level, and that has been effectively achieved as the accolades attest.
The Present has also been shortlisted for the 93rd Academy Awards in the category of Best Live Action Short. The official nominations for the Oscars are set to be announced on March 15, with the ceremony coming on April 25.