Movie Short Review: ‘The Present’

Greetings again from the darkness. It may look like the crowd filing out of a sports arena after a big match, but in fact, it’s actual footage of an Israeli checkpoint in Palestine along the West Bank. Another big difference … heavily armed soldiers and cages to detain those while identification is checked.

This is the life writer-director Farah Nabulsi shows us in her 23 minute gem of a short film. She focuses on Yusef (an excellent Saleh Bakri, THE BAND’S VISIT, 2007), a man struggling to make ends meet for his wife and young daughter. Today is his wedding anniversary and he agrees to take daughter Yasmine (Miriam Kanj) along on a shopping trip. She witnesses her dad battle severe back pain, as well as the frustrations in dealing with the armed guards at the checkpoint – even as he endures the humiliation of being caged in front of her.

Yusef is a good man and strives to protect his daughter and shield her from the tension and danger – often through humor or a warm embrace. Something as simple as replacing a fridge that’s on the fritz is part of the daily struggle for folks like Yusef. Sometimes it takes the courage and reasonableness of a youngster to highlight the irrational rules that have taken over the world. The film has a grounded, realistic feel, and delivers a sobering message.

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