Palestinian-British filmmaker Farah Nabulsi’s upcoming drama “The Teacher,” which is shot and set in Palestine’s West Bank, has been acquired by top Italian indie distributor Eagle Pictures just as Vincent Maraval’s Goodfellas launches sales on the timely title in Cannes.
Goodfellas, formerly known as Wild Bunch, on Thursday will be presenting to buyers the almost completed film that takes its cue from a real prisoners swap that took place in 2011 when Israel freed more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for one soldier who had been kidnapped by Palestinian militants.
In “The Teacher” a Palestinian school teacher played by Saleh Bakri (“Costa Brava, Lebanon”) struggles to reconcile his commitment to political resistance with his emotional support for one of his students. There is also a subplot involving his romantic relationship with a British volunteer worker, played by Imogen Poots (“The Father”).
“It takes place at a moment where an Israeli-Jewish-American soldier has been kidnapped by Palestinians for three years. The American-Jewish family comes to Israel to negotiate with the Israeli authorities,” Eagle Pictures president and owner Tarak Ben Ammar told Variety.
“It’s the whole torment of one life against 1,000. The true story is that they did end up freeing 1,000 for one. But the teacher is trying to make sure that his kids don’t join the freedom fighters,” Ben Ammar added.
“The Teacher” marks the feature film debut of Nabulsi who made a splash with Oscar-nominated short “The Present” that also starred Bakri.
“Goodfellas is always looking for new and innovative directorial talent and to support first features,” said Goodfellas head of sales Eva Diederix, in a statement. “Having Eagle on board ensures that “The Teacher” will have major exposure in Italy.”
The film is produced by Cocoon Films and Native Liberty Productions in the U.K. and Philistine Films in Palestine. CAA Media Finance is representing U.S. Sales.