The Present short film review

★★★★★

Directed by: #FarahNabulsi

Written by: #FarahNabulsi

Starring: #SalehBakri #MariamKanj #MariamBasha

Film Review by: Madison Ford

The Present film poster

The Present is a brilliant 25-minute short film about a man travelling to get his wife a present on their anniversary. He takes his young daughter and they set out on a journey across segregated roads, checkpoints, armed soldiers, all in a bid to go shopping. What seems like a simple narrative, explores so much more than just your regular shopping trip, it reflects a family’s struggles in daily life and the lengths you have to go through just to live your life.


Farah’s writing/directing is truly incredible, the story is captivating and honest and really opened my eyes to life in Palestine and the West Bank. The Present premiered at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival this year and it was awarded the Audience Award for Best Film, a title the film and Farah herself definitely deserves. I am really excited to see more of her work, I think she's incredibly talented, with only three productions under her belt she's one to watch!


The film feels naturalistic, it’s extremely aesthetic, the costume design is great, and the cinematography by Benoît Chamaillard provides excellent quality to the film but stays in keeping with a sense of realism. The Present is immersive and engaging and a delight to watch. The stakes feel real and there’s nothing fake about this fiction film, it’s pure and emotive in all the right places while allowing for conversations to flow in a natural way.


The dynamic between Yusef (Saleh Bakri) and Yasmine (Mariam Kanj) as father and daughter respectively felt completely natural and it didn’t feel scripted. The connection between them was clear and the relationship felt honest. It’s as though you’re being given an insight into their lives rather than watching a piece of fiction.


Adam Benobaid provides the score on this piece, and it adds an extra depth to the hardship the family are facing, finishing off the terrific film with sound that matches the emotion.

The interactions in The Present feel genuine and the acting is perfect, the journey Yusef goes on places him as the sort of ‘everyday’ man of this country, he represents the struggles of daily life.


There are some funny moments, particularly with the appliance store, it brings a sense of light relief, Yusef also adds jokes to his conversations, to make his daughter feel safer, around the large guns and soldiers at the checkpoint. I also found this film very touching and emotional; you’re positioned to sympathise with Yusef, a man who simply wants to go shopping and then return to his home, but even this poses a challenge. For someone who doesn’t experience these troubles first-hand, it’s an eye-opening piece of art that captivates from the offset.