‘Film-making? Bring it on!’: ex-stockbroker Farah Nabulsi on her Oscar nomination

‘Film-making? Bring it on!’: ex-stockbroker Farah Nabulsi on her Oscar nominationApril 7, 2021

The British Palestinian is up for an Oscar with her debut, filmed at a notorious Israeli flashpoint called Checkpoint 300. The London-based director talks about her shocking visits to the Middle East

Farah Nabulsi was at home in west London when she found out her film The Present had been nominated for the Oscar for best live action short. She’d persuaded her teenage sons to stay home and watch the announcement. When she heard her name, she jumped up on the table. Her eldest looked at her as if she’d gone mad. He’d got it into his head that this was the actual ceremony and she had lost. “He was like, ‘Why are you so happy? They didn’t pick you.’ He killed the moment.”

The film is Nabulsi’s directing debut, a powerful 20-minute piece of humanist cinema about a Palestinian man, Yusef (Saleh Bakri), who wants to surprise his wife with a fridge as an anniversary gift. He takes the couple’s young daughter, Yasmine (Mariam Kanj), shopping. But their big day out is ruined by two encounters with Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint. Yasmine is a witness to her dad’s humiliation – she tugs on his sleeve, reminding him to bite his tongue, to swallow the soldiers’ insults. It is a study of injustice that – like the best shorts – doesn’t try to cram too much in.

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