Nadine Labaki on her Oscar-shortlisted film ‘Capernaum’

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Director Nadine Labaki Photo by Fares Sokhon, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

We’re still more than a month out from the Academy Awards, but Lebanese director Nadine Labaki has already made Oscars history. She’s the first Arab woman to be shortlisted for an Academy Award. Her film ‘Capernaum’ follows 12-year-old Zain, a boy who runs away from home after his poverty stricken parents sell his sister off as a child bride to an older man. The star of the film is played by a child whose real name is Zain. Like the character he embodies, Zain Al Rafeea was illiterate and desperately poor--a Syrian refugee brought to Lebanon as a small child. Like most of the actors in Labaki’s film, Al Rafeea had never acted before, but Labaki wasn’t put off working with non-actors on tough subject matter. she embraced it--down to the film’s title, which can mean both “chaos” and “miracles.”



Kim Masters


Kaitlin Parker