Amid the ongoing war in Gaza, "The Teacher," a debut feature film by British-Palestinian director Farah Nabulsi, has found itself with an incredibly timely screening at the Red Sea International Film Festival. The film explores the modern Palestinian experience of being under occupation, addressing various themes currently under global scrutiny during the conflict. The story follows a member of the Israeli Defence Forces who is being held captive in the West Bank; his parents are fighting for his release; international relief workers are debating their place in the legal system; and an experienced educator is attempting to keep the community together in the face of violent campaigns by nearby settlers.
UNICEF's spokesperson:— IfNotNow(@IfNotNowOrg) December 5, 2023
"I feel like I'm almost failing in my ability to convey the endless killing of children here."pic.twitter.com/j0pfos9OfX
Despite the obviously political context, Nabulsi asserts that "The Teacher" wasn't written as a political statement but rather as an examination of the human experience. She emphasizes storytelling as the primary focus, expressing a keen interest in individual journeys, human dynamics, and emotional experiences within the landscape. Nabulsi aims to leave the interpretation and meaning of the film to the viewers, hoping to create moments that linger in their minds long after the credits roll.
Nabulsi, who gained global recognition with her debut short film "The Present" in 2020, had initially entered filmmaking to shed light on the dire circumstances of the Palestinian people. Unexpectedly, "The Present" achieved immense success, winning awards at various festivals, earning a BAFTA, and receiving an Academy Award nomination. Despite the acclaim, Nabulsi acknowledges the need to move beyond past achievements and focus on the integrity of each new artistic endeavor.
"The Teacher" marks a departure from the simplicity of "The Present." It introduces layers of injustice and complex characters, with Nabulsi describing the protagonist as an "anti-hero." While recognizing that the film may be challenging for audiences to process, especially those unfamiliar with the realities on the ground, she believes that people's growing interest in understanding the Palestinian situation aligns with the film's release.
As "The Teacher" continues its successful run, Nabulsi reflects on the personal growth she experienced during its creation. Despite the challenges and sacrifices involved, she emphasizes the beauty in recognizing triumphs along the journey and the clarity that nothing great comes without hardship.