Crap happens. But when it interferes with a fun winter activity, it’s bound to face displeasure from some of the city’s younger residents.
That was exactly the case for the Nasser family. All they wanted to do was enjoy a day in the snow by going sledding. But on their way to do so, they made a startling discovery: Much of the snow on their route was littered with dog poop.
This met the ire of the Nasser kids at the time, so much so that dad Nicola filmed them complaining about the “land mines” hiding in the snow. But what they might not have expected from this short video was recognition at a film festival.
The aptly titled “Dog Poop” was one of 32 short films recognized in the third annual New York City Public School Film Festival. The featured videos were divided into animation, documentary, experimental, short feature/narrative categories, and the category for the Nasser family film in PSA/advocacy.
Discomfort is no excuse for leaving an unpleasant surprise in the neighborhood, eldest daughter Loor Nasser says. And the city could certainly do with a reminder that poop is gross, even if your beloved furry friend is the one who left it.
“I bet you their excuse is, ‘Oh, no! My hands! They’re too cold, so I can’t touch the poop!’” Loor said in the film, as she zoomed in on one of many piles featured in the video. “There was a sign in front of some school and it said, ‘Please curb your dog and do not let them poop.’ And then, inside it, there was dog poop.”
It would be too easy to assume the omnipresent brown menace of dog poop was a one-time annoyance for the Nasser family. But it also struck when the kids least expected it — on what was supposed to be a special day for Loor’s younger brother.
“A few days ago, on Joseph’s birthday, Joseph stepped in dog poop,” Loor said. “And then he went to go to the snow to clear it (off), but then when he got to the snow, there was poop on the snow. And then on the way back, he stepped in a different chunk of poop.”
“Dog Poop” was the only featured film produced by Bronx public school students. Loor attends Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy on West 237th Street, while her brothers and other featured actors Joseph, Jude and Luke attend P.S. 24 Spuyten Duyvil just a block or two away.
There might not have been a deeper narrative or character arc in the Nasser family’s film. But just like the poop they encountered, a message was out there, short and sweet: They’re tired of this crap.
“I know that there’s always poop in Manhattan, but when there’s snow, people leave more and more and more poop,” Loor said. “It’s disgusting.”
But the Nasser family isn’t just a one-trick pony. Even before the film festival, home videos were a part of their lives. And now with the proliferation of YouTube, they’re on the internet for the world to see.
One might not want to watch the Nasser kids complain about dog poop while zooming in on the various piles they encounter on a walk through Manhattan. But maybe a video of the kids making Christmas cookies might be more appealing. Or perhaps a video of Loor and Joseph sharing their love for the Percy Jackson and the Olympians book series. Or even a video of the kids assembling chairs from Ikea.
And “Dog Poop” wasn’t the first time the Nassers highlighted the city’s education department. The family’s YouTube channel features a home video of Loor and Joseph unboxing a DOE-issued iPad for remote and hybrid learning at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. It might have been just another video for them, but it also became a part of history, documenting an academic year the city’s kids — including the Nassers — won’t soon forget.
But even in such a seemingly historic moment, the classic banter between siblings takes center stage. As Joseph unravels the new iPad charger, he scolds his sister by saying, “Stop copying my sentences,” to which Loor replies, “I said it first.”
The videos on the family’s YouTube channel give the outside world an inside look at the daily lives of a family who calls this city home. But to Joseph, it gives him a special gift — experiencing new things with his family.
“In almost every video, there’s a fun activity that we do,” Joseph said. “One time I tried making pancakes on video. That was fun. I also built a Lego (set) on video. That was also fun. It depends on what the topic is. That’s the best thing about it.”
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