The Present (2020 film)

The Present (Arabic: الهدية‎, romanizedAl Hadiya, lit.'The Gift') is a 2020 short film directed by Farah Nabulsi and co-written by Nabulsi and Hind Shoufani, about a father and daughter in the Palestinian enclaves of the Israeli-occupied West Bank trying to buy a wedding anniversary gift.[1] The cast is led by Palestinian actor Saleh Bakri. It was released on Netflix on 18 March 2021, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film.[2]

The Present
The Present (2021 short film poster).jpg
Directed byFarah Nabulsi
Written byFarah Nabulsi
Hind Shoufani
Produced byOssama Bawardi
StarringSaleh Bakri
Mariam Kanj
Mariam Basha
CinematographyBenoît Chamaillard
Edited byHind Shoufani
Music byAdam Benobaid
Distributed byNetflix
Release date
Running time
24 minutes
English (subtitles)

In 2021, it won the BAFTA Award for Best Short Film.[3][4]


Beitunia and Bethlehem, the two locations shown in the film, on a map of the Palestinian enclaves under the Oslo II Accord.

The film is about a father and daughter in the Palestinian enclaves of the Israeli-occupied West Bank trying to buy a wedding anniversary gift.[1]

The film opens with Yusef (Saleh Bakri) waiting to cross the overcrowded Checkpoint 300, near Bethlehem, in the early morning.[5] The scene was produced on location with guerrilla filmmaking; Nabulsi described it as "probably the most rewarding scene” in the film to make":[5]

The only fiction in that scene is our protagonist, Yusef... All the other hundreds of Palestinians you see there are actual Palestinians going to work at the crack of dawn... I have a whole philosophical conversation we could have about who should we be asking permissions from to film such a monstrosity … I just decided we were going to take that risk.

Later, at Yusef's home, he and his wife Noor (Mariam Kamel Basha) discuss their wedding anniversary. Yusef says he is going on a shopping trip to Beitunia to buy a gift, with their daughter Yasmine (Maryam Kanj).[5]

Their progress in both directions is impeded by a variety of checkpoints. In an important later scene, a group of young Israeli soldiers argue with each other over “what a seemingly more senior soldier views as the insufficiently uncompromising, perhaps insufficiently inhumane, behavior of his junior.”[5]


The film premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for Best Film.[6] It subsequently won awards at the Cleveland International Film Festival, the Brooklyn Film Festival, and the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films.[5]

In 2021, it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film[1][7] and won the BAFTA Award for Best Short Film.[3]


The film received 5-star reviews by the UK Film Review and Eye for Film, and 4-star reviews by For Reel and View of the Arts. Madison Ford, writing in the UK Film Review, described the film as "an eye-opening piece of art that captivates from the offset", whilst Taylor Beaumont in For Reel writes that the film is a "fantastic showcase for the restrained but powerful acting talents of Saleh Bakri and... a powerful snapshot of the humanity some of us sacrifice just to buy our eggs for the week".[8] In an interview with Nabulsi, film journalist E. Nina Rothe wrote that the film's name can refer to both a gift and the present day.[9]

A Hebrew-language review from Amir Bogen in Ynet comparing The Present with the Israeli film White Eye states that it surprising to see The Present in the shortlist for Academy Awards given the plot pattern, its emotional exploitation, and its conscious simplicity[10] and goes on to say "it presents one-sided messages and a loss of authenticity to the situation (not to mention the Hebrew with a strong Arabic accent of the soldiers played by Palestinian actors)".[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Oscar-nominated Palestinian film 'The Present' debuts on Netflix". Arab News. 2021-03-18. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  2. ^ "Oscar-Nominated short-Film "The Present" will be streaming on Netflix on March 18th". About Netflix. Netflix. 16 March 2021. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  3. ^ a b Prideaux, Sophie (April 11, 2021). "Palestinian short film 'The Present' wins Bafta: 'I dedicate this award to the people of Palestine'". National News. Retrieved April 16, 2021.
  4. ^ "Palestinian short film The Present wins prestigious BAFTA award". Aljazeera. 11 April 2021. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  5. ^ a b c d e Carly A. Krakow, Jadaliyya, 21 December 2020, A Path with No Alternative: A Review of Farah Nabulsi’s Film “The Present”
  6. ^ "Oscar-Nominated Short-Film THE PRESENT Will Be Streaming on Netflix on March 18th". BroadwayWorld. March 16, 2021. Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  7. ^ "THE 93RD ACADEMY AWARDS | 2021". Retrieved 2021-04-05.
  8. ^ External reviews listed at IMDb, including:
    * Taylor Beaumont, 13 November 2020, For Reel, HOLLYSHORTS | "THE PRESENT" SHORT FILM REVIEW
    * Madison Ford, 5 November 2020, UK Film Review, The Present short film review
    * Abi Aherne, 9 January 2021, View of the Arts, "The Present" review
    * Jennie Kermode, 10 February 2021, Eye For Film, The Present
  9. ^ Nina Rothe, E (May 27, 2020). "Farah Nabulsi on her haunting film 'The Present' and the "misrepresented Palestinian stories" she was born to tell". E. Nina Rothe. Retrieved 2021-04-05. The title ‘The Present’ could refer to a gift, the one Yusuf, Bakri’s character goes to buy for his wife on their wedding anniversary. But it also means, to me, the current state of affairs, the here and now, for the Palestinian people.
  10. ^ "המתחרה שלנו באוסקר: סרט פלסטיני על הכיבוש". ynet (in Hebrew). 2021-03-18. Retrieved 2021-03-23. למען האמת, מפתיע שנאבלוסי קיבלה את קולם את בוחרי האקדמיה האמריקנית בהתחשב בתבנית העלילתית, הנצלנות הרגשית והפשטנות המצפונית.
  11. ^ "Una película palestina competirá por el Óscar con un film israelí". ynet (in Spanish). 2021-03-18. Retrieved 2021-03-24. Si bien la la realización de la película no está mal, presenta mensajes unilaterales y una pérdida de autenticidad de la situación (sin mencionar el hebreo con un fuerte acento árabe de los soldados interpretados por actores palestinos)

External linksEdit