An Oscar and BAFTA nominated short film called The Present has debuted on Netflix.
Here’s what it is about:
At 24 minutes long, The Present has an incredibly simple premise, following a man who sets out with his young daughter to buy his wife an anniversary gift (a not-quite-so-romantic yet highly practical fridge).
But it’s not so straightforward.
The man is Palestinian (played by renowned screen and stage star Saleh Bakri) and lives in the West Bank near Bethlehem. And his shopping trip soon becomes a series of demoralizing frustrations as he’s forced to navigate Israeli checkpoints, heavily armed IDF soldiers and segregated roads, spending hours waiting behind bars as his ID is checked and rechecked, and renegotiating what would otherwise be a simple route as army roadblocks spring up unannounced. The powerful impact of the film comes from the simplicity of his task and the hurdles put up in his way (at one point he pleads with an Israeli soldier to let him pass, saying, “I just want to go home, my house is just there,” pointing up a hill).
Disclosure: I have not seen it, but judging by this synopsis and what I have heard, it is presented as straightforward. Palestinians good, Israelis bad.
It’s director Farah Nabulsi was recently interviewed by France 24. And here’s the interesting part: at one point, the interviewer tried to get Nabulsi to speak about all the horrible reactions from Israelis she was receiving for her film. She admits she didn’t receive any!
Clearly, I don’t agree with her assessment that she did not receive a huge backlash because what she is portraying is the reality. In fact, that is clearly untrue! Given her admission the story is told from just the one side, it is clearly not the entire picture.
I believe for the most part, Israel supporters tend to be less vitriolic than the Israel-haters (with some exceptions of course). We will certainly let our feelings be known about gross distortions and untruths, but not in the nasty, way we see from the other side.
I believe that is part of what is going on here. The other part could be that Israel-supporters have not addressed Nabulsi directly, but more written about their issues with the film.
Either way, what is almost as disturbing as the fact this inaccurate film is getting so much press and winning awards is the way the France 24 reporter is clearly on “team Palestine” during the interview.
Hat tip: Michal