Farah Nabulsi during filming of her award-winning short film The Present. (File photo)
British-Palestinian director Farah Nabulsi dubbed the illegal blockade of Gaza and Israel’s ongoing killing of Palestinians as a “stain on humanity”, reported Anadolu Agency.
Nabulsi, who blasted Israel’s ongoing aggression against Gaza, became known after she said “Stop the massacre in Gaza” during her speech at the award ceremony of the Red Sea International Film Festival. She visited Istanbul for the 11th Bosphorus Film Festival, of which Anadolu is the global communications partner.
Palestinians inside Gaza have been “left to rot in stagnation and helplessness, and they threw away the key, and anyone who dared to come out was shot,” she told Anadolu.
Her latest film, The Teacher, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was screened as the opening film at the Bosphorus Film Festival in Istanbul.
“My previous short film, The Present, won more than 50 international jury and audience awards, a BAFTA award, and was nominated for an Oscar,” said the award-winning director.
‘It is essential to support young filmmakers’
Nabulsi said she appreciates film festivals that support filmmakers, independent cinema and stories, such as the Bosphorus Film Festival. “I love it. I mean, first of all, I love film festivals. Then, there are film festivals that embrace the filmmakers, independent cinema, and the stories that we want to tell, and I also love how down-to-earth the festival is. It’s not involved with bells and whistles of some film festivals.”
“It’s really about supporting the films, the production, producers and directors, and young filmmakers,” said the director.
“Istanbul is a beautiful city that I have been to before. So, I’m happy to be here. And I was very honored and touched when our film, The Teacher, was chosen to be the opening film, recognizing the current genocide in Gaza. I think it’s wonderful that they want to embrace Palestinian films specifically this year,” she added.
The director reiterated her stance on Palestine, emphasizing that what happened in Palestine is a “stain on humanity.”
“I think that the entire Palestinian experience is a stain on our humanity. And it is shocking to me that in the 21st century today, settler colonization is taking place. And we know that the ideological birth mother of the state of Israel in 1948 is settler colonization, which is rooted in racism,” she said.
“I think that’s not something that’s just in the past. It’s still happening today. And you double that with the ethnic cleansing that is involved in acquiring as much land as possible while ridding it of as much of the indigenous population. And you think about what has evolved into an apartheid system that any respectable human rights organization and the most credible human rights organization in the world have confirmed. And now, it is genocide again, according to definitions confirmed by leading human rights directors, including the UN,” she said.
‘Palestinians in Gaza Were Feft to Rot’
Nabulsi said that she could not find words to describe what happened to the Palestinian people and what they have been going through for decades.
“When you think about this idea of military occupation, colonization, ethnic cleansing, incremental genocide, we think about this blockade on Gaza for 17 years. That in itself is a stain on humanity. Palestinians inside Gaza were left to rot in stagnation and helplessness, and they threw away the key, and anyone who dared to come out was shot,” she said.
Pointing out that the governments advocating democracy, justice, freedom and equality supported the war, Nabulsi said that the US and the UK were among them.
“And it is appalling that it is aided and abetted by some of what we call the world powers who claim democracy, justice, freedom, and equality, and I speak specifically, more so about the US and the UK,” she said.
Nabulsi said she received positive reactions after her film received an award at the Red Sea International Film Festival.
“Of course, for Saleh Bakri, who got the Best Actor Award from the jury, them recognizing his work and his art makes me very, very happy, as I mentioned in my speech,” she said about the Palestinian actor, who could not attend the Red Sea International Film Festival where Nabulsi uttered her famous “Stop the massacre in Gaza” remarks during her speech at the award ceremony.
“And, you know, I’ve always said that I think Saleh Bakri is such a brilliant actor that maybe he would have had opportunities and graced the big screens worldwide had he not been born a Palestinian and had he been able to travel the world and work on films in another context,” she said.
‘Everyone should lend their voice’
The director emphasized that she could not accept the award without mentioning the genocide in Gaza. “There’s no way I can accept those awards that is about a film I wrote which is set and filmed in Palestine, and not address the genocide in Gaza. I would be ashamed not to.”
She added that she did not regret her remarks. “I think that anybody who has a platform needs to lend their voice in this moment. Thousands of people, children are being slaughtered. People’s homes are being wiped out. They’re being expelled and forced out from their homes,” she said.
Nabulsi said that The Teacher will continue its journey and will be shown at festivals in various countries. She confirmed she is working on different projects that may or may not be related to Palestine.
‘Cinema is the process of telling human stories’
She also stressed the importance of cinema as an instrument of communication. “I believe that cinema is one of the most powerful tools for meaningful human communication the world has ever known. And it does have the power to challenge stereotypes and overcome misconceptions while also creating bridges of understanding. I think it’s the storytelling process in cinema that is important. I wanted to tell stories, so I became a filmmaker. I wanted to express myself creatively. But I wanted to tell human stories that matter. And I think that cinema has the power to raise the conscience of humanity.”
Boycott, she said, is one of the most effective methods of reacting to what is happening in Gaza, adding that following the announcements of non-governmental organizations working on the issue and not choosing brands that support Israel will create pressure to end the occupation of Palestine.