“It’s been a life-changing adventure,” said Labaki, whose husband Khaled Mouzanar produced the film and composed the score. “It’s about love”.


Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Nadine Labaki’s CAPERNAUM (“Chaos”) tells the story of Zain (Zain al Raffea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life.


CAPERNAUM follows Zain as he journeys from gutsy, streetwise child to hardened 12-year-old “adult”: fleeing his negligent parents, surviving through his wits on the streets, taking care of Ethiopian refugee Rahel (Yordanos Shiferaw) and her baby son Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole), being jailed for a violent crime, and finally, seeking justice in a courtroom.  CAPERNAUM was made with a cast of non-professionals playing characters whose lives closely parallel their own. Following her script, Labaki placed her performers in scenes and asked them to react spontaneously with their own words and gestures.  While steeped in the quiet routines of ordinary people, CAPERNAUM is a film with an expansive palette: without warning it can ignite with emotional intensity, surprise with unexpected tenderness, and inspire with flashes of poetic imagery.


American actor Ben Stiller and the UNHCR provided support for this courageous filmmaking. The young star of the film, was a Syrian refugee himself living in the squalor of Beirut, a year after his rescue and resettlement in Norway. Ethiopian refugee Rahel said in an interview that in the film she closely resembles the character she played when they discovered her – a refugee who found herself on the streets of Beirut without papers.

Sony Pictures Classics picked up the film and says they will release it in December in order to qualify for Oscars.

It is certain to be Lebanon’s entry for Oscar’s Best Foreign Language Film.