The Present

The Present – a future Oscar winner?

Last Sunday, at the 2021 EE British Academy Film Awards, The Present won the BAFTA award for best British Short Film. Next week it will be revealed whether The Present has an Oscar in its future. Our opinion, you ask? It certainly deserves it.

The Present tells the story of Yusef (Saleh Bakri) and his young daughter, Yasmine (Mariam Kanj), who set out to purchase an anniversary gift for Yusef’s wife. But in order to go shopping, they must first go through one of the 100 Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank.

Mariam Kanj as Yasmine in The Present
Mariam Kanj as Yasmine in The Present

The short film sheds light on how Palestinians are deprived of the basic right to freedom of movement. Instead they are forced to pass through military checkpoints several times every single day.

Writer/director Farah Nabulsi, who is the daughter of Palestinians who moved to Britain in the 1970s, started out as a stockbroker. After working at JPMorgan Chase, then setting up her own business, Nabulsi turned to filmmaking in 2015. She founded a production company, Native Liberty, through which Nabulsi writes, produces and directs.

The Present is Nabulsi’s directorial debut, and she says it’s her aim to engage people through the heart, not with facts and figures. This is the success of the film; it moves you regardless of your preconceptions. It has a simple narrative, but one that emotively demonstrates what Palestinians have to endure on a daily basis. It’s clear to see why the British Academy deemed The Present award worthy.

Nabulsi said in her BAFTA acceptance speech:

“For anyone who has seen this film… You would know why I dedicate this award to the people of Palestine.”

The Present is now available to watch on Netflix. The Oscars are on Sunday, 25th April.

Written by Hebe Dobson-Mouawad

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