Variety is debuting an exclusive clip from Farah Nabulsi’s thriller “The Teacher,” starring Imogen Poots (“The Father”) and Saleh Bakri (“The Band’s Visit,” “Wajib”). The film will have its world premiere on Saturday at the Toronto Film Festival in the Discovery section.
The film is Nabulsi’s feature debut following her Oscar-nominated and BAFTA award-winning short “The Present,” which also starred Bakri.
“The Teacher” follows Palestinian schoolteacher Basem (Bakri), who acts as a father figure to two of his students, Yacoub and Adam (Muhammad Abed Elrahman), amidst turmoil in the West Bank. Upon meeting British volunteer worker Lisa (Poots), Basem struggles to reconcile his life-threatening commitment to political resistance and his emotional support for Yacoub and Adam with the chance of a new romantic relationship.
The story – based on true events – takes place against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, offering insight into the lives of the people living in the region from all religious and cultural backgrounds.
In a statement, Nabulsi said: “Although I was born, raised, and educated in the U.K., my blood, my heritage is very much Palestinian, and my first-hand experiences traveling to occupied and colonized Palestine in recent years really opened my eyes to the injustice and discrimination that’s taking place there and just how systematic and institutionalized it is.”
“But I wanted to get specific and tell a more personal story about someone living that reality, and explore the real-life conditions, experiences, and human emotions that drive a person to make certain choices and take certain actions; as is the case for our protagonist, Basem and his student Adam, and indeed for Simon, our Jewish-American father in the film as well, whose son is missing.”
“My intention with ‘The Teacher’ is to take audiences on an intense, emotional journey into those lives and experiences, and hope I leave them contemplating the choices and decisions the characters make and the cruel reality in which they are forced to make them.”
International sales are being handled by Flavien Eripret at Goodfellas, while the U.S. sale is in the hands of CAA Media Finance. Front Row Filmed Entertainment is looking after rights in North Africa and the Middle East.
The lead producer is Sawsan Asfari at Cocoon Films. Among the films she has been involved with producing are Annemarie Jacir’s “Wajib,” which premiered in Toronto; “When I Saw You,” which premiered in Berlin; “Salt of This Sea,” which premiered in Cannes in the Un Certain Regard section; Hany Abu-Assad’s “The Idol,” which premiered in Toronto; and the documentary “Aquarela” by Victor Kossakovsky, which premiered in Venice and was Oscar shortlisted in 2019. She is also the producer of documentaries such as “Tomorrow’s Freedom,” which premiered at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival in 2022.
The other producers are Nabulsi and Ossama Bawardi. Alex Baranowski composed the music, and Gilles Porte is in charge of cinematography.
Most recently, Poots has been seen starring in Zev Borow’s “Outer Range” for Amazon. She will be starring next in Kristen Stewart’s upcoming feature directorial debut, an adaptation of Lidia Yuknavitch’s memoir, “The Chronology of Water,” which is being produced by Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions.