Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film from Lebanon!

Nadine Labaki (Caramel, Where Do We Go Now?) has crafted some of the most indelible depictions of Lebanese life in contemporary cinema. Her latest, Capernaum, is at once gritty and perceptive, a dive into Beirut’s lower depths as viewed through the eyes of an imperilled child.

Poster for the Lebanese neo-realist drama CapernaumZain (Zain Al Rafeea) is only 12, but he’s seen enough of this life to resent his very existence. His parents, who have innumerable children, resort to some inventive scams, such as saturating garments with tramadol, which they then pass along to Zain’s incarcerated brother for resell to fellow inmates. More alarmingly, Zain’s parents sell his 11-year-old sister’s hand in marriage, despite his best efforts to save her. Fed up, Zain runs away. He befriends an Ethiopian cleaning woman, whose baby he eventually becomes guardian to. But life on the streets offers Zain fewer and fewer places to hide. Encouraged by a current affairs program seeking to draw attention to child poverty, Zain files a lawsuit against his parents for giving birth to him. The trial provides the frame through which Zain’s story unfolds.

Named for a town on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus was said to have healed the sick, Capernaum reveals a world in which desperation is constant and the innocent appear forsaken. Our best hope lies in kids like Zain, whose spite is easily matched by his resourcefulness, and whose story Labaki relays with toughness, empathy, and bold cinematic vision.

– Cameron Bailey, Toronto International Film Festival

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