It’s definitely a great day for Nadine Labaki, who has made history as the first Arab female filmmaker to ever be nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign language film category.
Labaki’s film, Capernaum, gives Lebanon back-to-back foreign-language nomination following Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult, which was nominated last year.
Set against the backdrop of the Middle East’s growing refugee crisis, the film follows a 12-year old Beirut boy who sues his parents over his birth. The name of the film means “chaos.”
She said in an Instagram post in December: “After years of research, tears and sweat, long production hours and sleepless nights, our film has been recognized on this year’s Foreign Language Oscar shortlist among 8 other films from a selection that exceeded 80 submissions from all around the world. We couldn’t be prouder.”
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#Capharnaum is SHORTLISTED for an #Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film! What an incredible moment in our film’s journey and a major milestone for Lebanese and Arab cinema. After years of research, tears and sweat, long production hours and sleepless nights, our film has been recognized on this year’s Foreign Language #Oscar shortlist among 8 other films from a selection that exceeded 80 submissions from all around the world. We couldn’t be prouder. Thank you @TheAcademy for this immense honor. Thank you @SonyClassics for bringing the film to American audiences and voters. Thank you to each and every member of our cast and crew. And thank you to every audience member who went to see the film at film festivals and in cinemas. #Oscars2019 #Capharnaum
Labaki’s film already has admirers in high places. In an Instagram post earlier this month, Oprah Winfrey said she “Can’t stop thinking about this movie. Saw it 3 days ago. Didn’t know when I watched it that the cast members were real people, including these 2 phenomenal kids.”
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Can’t stop thinking about this movie. #Capernaum Saw it 3 days ago. Didn’t know when I watched it that the cast members were real people. Including these 2 phenomenal kids. Story of a young boy who sues his parents to stop having children they can’t afford. It’s about that and so much more. Surviving the daily traumas of being poor,proving your existence matters with no “papers.” Was nominated for Golden Globes. Hope the same happens for Oscars so more people can see it. Really worthy of your time. #Capernaum means chaos.
However, the film has stiff competition in a category that also includes Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, to whom she lost the Golden Globe. She’s also in contention for a foreign language BAFTA.
The film stars Syrian refugee Zain Rafea and Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, who was deported from Lebanon to Kenya in March.
Last year, Labaki made history as the first female Arab director to win the Jury Prize at Cannes, where she won the festival’s second highest honour and received a 15-minute long standing ovation.
In 2014, British-Yemeni filmmaker Sara Ishaq was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).