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Film / The Present

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The Present is a 2020 short film (24 minutes) from Palestine, directed by Farah Nabulsi.

Yusuf is a husband and father. It's his anniversary, and he is going out to get his wife Noor a present, and he's bringing his daughter Yasmine along for some ancillary shopping.

That sounds like an easy plan, but because Yusuf lives in the occupied West Bank of Palestine, it isn't. Yusuf lives in the West Bank, so, to go shopping he and Yasmine have to squeeze their way through an overcrowded pedestrian bridge before reaching a checkpoint, where Yusuf has to go through a humiliating detention and search at the hands of the Israeli Defense Force. Father and daughter finally make it through, do their grocery shopping, and get Noor's present—a new refrigerator. But they still have to go back, which means they have to suffer through an even more degrading checkpoint encounter with the IDF.

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  • Call-Back: Yusuf and Yasmine are stuck at the checkpoint so long that Yasmine wets her pants. Later, when they're trying to get back through the checkpoint, Shlomo the asshole soldier opens the bag with Yasmine's pants, catches the smell of urine, and makes a nasty comment about how Palestinians are disgusting.
  • Crapsack World: The life of a Palestinian under Israeli occupation, where the most mundane tasks require a humiliating ideal.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: An IDF soldier works the action of his machine gun at the checkpoint at the end, when Yusuf is screaming in rage as the soldiers scream back at him and it seems events will take a tragic turn.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Yusuf and a mean IDF soldier are talking in English as Yusuf tries to convince the IDF soldier to let him through. When Yusuf says "Ask Ali, he knows me," the mean IDF soldier says to his buddies, "This clown thinks he's friends with Ali!", in Hebrew. Then he puts Yusuf in a cage.
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  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Yasmine and Yusuf, their traumatic ordeal finally over, trundle away with the fridge, while Ali and Shlomo can be heard arguing on the soundtrack.
  • Potty Emergency: Played for Drama. Yusuf is detained at the checkpoint for so long that poor little Yasmine, with nowhere to go potty, wets herself.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Yusuf, who has been bearing indignities all day, completely loses it when the fridge won't fit through the pedestrian door and Shlomo spitefully refuses to let him push it through the road gate. Yusuf starts banging his fists on the table while screaming "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME? IT'S A FRIDGE!" This nearly gets him shot.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Ali, the one Israeli soldier who knows Yusuf and is not so much a fascist bastard. At the climax when Shlomo, the other soldier, spitefully refuses to let Yusuf take the fridge through the road gate, Ali says "Come on, it's just a fridge." In the end it's Ali that refuses to stop Yasmine from taking the fridge.
  • Title Drop: Yusuf at the appliances store says, of the fridge, that "It's a present for my wife."
  • Urban Segregation: At the point of a gun, as Palestinians like Yusuf live surrounded by the Israeli army and traveling anywhere is an ordeal. While Yusuf and Yasmine are going through an interminable wait at the checkpoint, they see an Israeli family in a car sail right through.
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