Capernaum is a 2018 Lebanese drama film directed by Nadine Labaki and produced by Khaled Mouzanar. The screenplay was written by Labaki, Jihad Hojaily and Michelle Keserwany from a story by Labaki, Hojaily, Keserwany, Georges Khabbaz and Khaled Mouzanar. The film stars Syrian refugee child actor Zain Al Rafeea as Zain El Hajj, a 12-year-old living in the slums of Beirut.

The film is told in flashback format, focusing on Zain’s life, including his encounter with an Ethiopian immigrant Rahil and her infant son Yonas, and leading up to his attempt to sue his parents for child neglect.

Accolades:

  • At its premiere at Cannes in May, the film received a 15-minute standing ovation and went on to win the Jury Prize, one of many honors on the festival circuit.
  • This month it secured a Golden Globe nomination for best foreign-language film, paving the way for a potential Oscar nomination in the same category.
  • And the critic A.O. Scott of The Times named it one of the 10 best movies of the year, writing that “Labaki refuses to lose sight of the exuberance, grit and humor that people hold onto even in moments of the greatest desperation.”
Labaki on the set with her star Zain al Rafeea, a Syrian refugee.

Labaki builds the dead-end life Zain dwells in with watchfully measured details: every dried tear, every piece of hand-me-down clothing, all the mud and dust underscore the daily harshness of a world where babies wear chains (not only metaphorically) so that they can’t get themselves into danger or trouble while unattended. And thankfully, the filmmaker affirms to have no interest in misery porn by the end. 

Rogerebert.com

Capernaum (2018) Trailer:

Gallery:

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