Capernaum (film)

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Capernaum (film).jpg
Film poster
Directed byNadine Labaki
Produced byMichel Merkt
Khaled Mouzanar
Written byNadine Labaki
Jihad Hojaily
Michelle Keserwany
Georges Khabbaz
Khaled Mouzanar
StarringZain Al Rafeea
Yordanos Shiferaw
Boluwatife Treasure Bankole
Music byKhaled Mouzanar
CinematographyChristopher Aoun
Edited byKonstantin Bock
Mooz Films
Distributed bySony Pictures Classics[1]
Release date
  • 17 May 2018 (2018-05-17) (Cannes)
  • 20 September 2018 (2018-09-20) (Lebanon)
Running time
123 minutes
Budget$4 million[2]
Box office$3.122 million[3][4]

Capernaum (Arabic: کفرناحوم‎), also known as Capharnaüm, is a 2018 Lebanese drama film written and directed by Nadine Labaki. It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival,[5][6] where it won the Jury Prize.[7][8] The film received a 15-minute standing ovation following its premiere at Cannes on 17 May 2018.[9]

Sony Pictures Classics, which had previously distributed Labaki's Where Do We Go Now?, bought North American and Latin American distribution rights for the film, while Wild Bunch retained the international rights.[10]


Cast and director at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
  • Zain Al Rafeea as Zain
  • Yordanos Shiferaw as Rahil
  • Boluwatife Treasure Bankole as Yonas
  • Kawthar Al Haddad as Souad
  • Fadi Kamel Youssef as Selim
  • Nour el Husseini as Assadd
  • Cedra Izam as Sahar


Inside a court, Zain, (played by Zain Al Rafeea), a 12-year-old Syrian refugee boy, is brought before the judge. To the question: "Why are you attacking your parents in court?", Zain answers: "For giving me life!" The film retraces the incredible journey of this child in search of his identity and who rebels against the life that was imposed on him.


Screenwriter and director Nadine Labaki described the conception of the film:

At the end of the day, those children are really paying a very high price for our conflicts, and our wars, and our systems, and our stupid decisions, and governments. I felt the need to talk about the problem, and I was thinking, if those children could talk, or could express themselves, what would they say? What would they tell us, this society that ignores them?[11]

Producer Khaled Mouzanar took out a mortgage on his house to raise a budget.[12]

Zain Al Rafeea, a Syrian refugee living in Lebanon for eight years, was 12 during production.[13] Al Rafeea's character, Zain, is named for him.[11] Many of the other actors were novices, which Labaki described as necessary because she wanted "a real struggle on that big screen".[12] Although Labaki is an actress, she gave herself only a small role, preferring the novice actors drawing from their experiences.[14]

Shooting lasted six months and resulted in a cut 12 hours long; it was subject to edits over two years.[13]


Capernaum has a 81% approval rating based on reviews by 63 critics on Rotten Tomatoes.[15] On Metacritic.[16] , the film has a weighted average score of 74 out of 100 based on reviews from 23 critics, indicating "Generally favorable reviews". Upon its release in France, Capernaum was praised by the audience and scored 4.5/5 stars on Allocine based on more than 1405 reviews.[17] Variety's Jay Weissberg judged Capernaum to represent a substantial improvement in Labaki's direction, bringing "intelligence and heart" to its issue.[18] The Hollywood Reporter critic Leslie Felperin called it an effective melodrama.[19] On, Emily Yoshida called Zain Al Rafeea "a startling, unforgettable presence". Yoshida also interpreted it as "one of the most forcefully pro-choice films I’ve ever seen", though abortion is not mentioned.[20]

A.A. Dowd wrote a mixed review on The A.V. Club, calling it a "sadness pile that confuses nonstop hardship for drama, begging for our tears at every moment".[21] IndieWire critic David Ehrlich also wrote a mixed review, calling it "an astonishing work of social-realism that’s diluted (and ultimately defeated) by an array of severe miscalculations".[22]


The film was selected as the Lebanese entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards,[23][24] making the December shortlist.[25]

Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Alliance of Women Film Journalists 10 January 2019 Best Non-English Film Nadine Labaki Nominated [26]
Best Woman Director Nominated
Asia Pacific Screen Awards 29 November 2018 Best Directing Won [27][28]
Best Actor Zain Al Rafeea Nominated
British Academy Film Awards 10 February 2019 Best Film Not in the English Language Nadine Labaki, Khaled Mouzanar Pending [29]
British Independent Film Awards 2 December 2018 Best International Independent Film Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily, Michelle Keserwani, Khaled Mouzanar and Michel Merkt Nominated [30]
Calgary International Film Festival 19–30 September 2018 Audience Favourite, US/International Narrative Feature Nadine Labaki Won [31]
Fan Favourite Award Won
Cannes Film Festival 8–19 May 2018 Jury Prize Won [8]
Prize of the Ecumenical Jury Won
Chicago Film Critics Association 8 December 2018 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [32]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 13 January 2019 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [33]
FICFA 15–23 November 2018 Best Foreign Film Nadine Labaki Won [34]
Audience Award Won
Film Fest Gent 8–18 October 2018 North Sea Port Audience Award Won [35]
Globes de Cristal Awards 4 February 2019 Best Foreign Film Pending [36]
Golden Globes 6 January 2019 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [37]
International Antalya Film Festival 29 September–5 October 2018 Best Actor Zain Al Rafeea Won [38][39]
Young Jury Award Nadine Labaki Won
Leeds International Film Festival 1–15 November 2018 Audience Award for Best Fiction Feature Won [40]
Melbourne International Film Festival 2–19 August 2018 Audience Award Won [41]
Miami International Film Festival 11–14 October Gigi Guermont Audience Award Won [42]
Mill Valley Film Festival 3–13 October 2018 Audience Favorite - World Cinema, Gold Award Won [43]
Norwegian International Film Festival August 2018 Audience Award Won [44]
San Diego Film Critics Society 10 December 2018 Best Foreign Language Film Runner-up [45]
San Sebastián International Film Festival 21–29 September 2018 Audience Award Nadine Labaki 2nd Place [46]
São Paulo International Film Festival 18–31 October 2018 Audience Award Won [47]
Sarajevo Film Festival 10–17 August 2018 Audience Award Won [48]
St. Louis Film Critics Association 16 December 2018 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [49]
St. Louis International Film Festival 1–11 November 2018 Award for Best International Film Nadine Labaki Won [50]
Stockholm International Film Festival 7–18 November 2018 Best Screenplay Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily, Michelle Keserwany, Georges Kabbaz and Khaled Mouzanar Won [51]
Audience Award Nadine Labaki Won [52]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association 3 December 2018 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated [53]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (10 May 2018). "Sony Pictures Classics Nabs Nadine Labaki's Palme d'Or Contender 'Capernaum'". Variety. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  2. ^ "'Capharnaum' IMDB". IMDB. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Capharnaum". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 16 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Cafarnaúm". The Numbers. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  5. ^ "The 2018 Official Selection". Cannes. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Cannes Lineup Includes New Films From Spike Lee, Jean-Luc Godard". Variety. Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  7. ^ Steve, Pond (19 May 2018). "'Shoplifters' Wins Palme d'Or at 2018 Cannes Film Festival". SF Gate. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  8. ^ a b Debruge, Peter (19 May 2018). "2018 Cannes Film Festival Award Winners Announced". Variety. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  9. ^ ""Nadine Labaki's 'Capernaum' Earns Massive Cannes Standing Ovation and Instant Palme d'Or Winner Predictions"".
  10. ^ ""'Sony Pictures Classics Nabs Nadine Labaki's Palme d'Or Contender 'Capernaum'"".
  11. ^ a b Grobar, Matt (15 November 2018). "'Capernaum' Director On The High Price Children Are Paying For Society's Mistakes — Awardsline Screening Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  12. ^ a b Staff (21 November 2018). "'Capernaum' team on Cannes success and the importance of using non-professional actors". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  13. ^ a b Welk, Brian (20 November 2018). "'Capernaum' Director Nadine Labaki Says Refugee Child Star Is Safe and Resettled (Video)". The Wrap. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  14. ^ Ritman, Alex (9 May 2018). "Cannes: Nadine Labaki on 'Capernaum' and Resisting the Lure of Hollywood". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  15. ^ "CAPERNAUM (CAPHARNAÜM) (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  16. ^ "CAPERNAUM (2018)". Metacritic. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  17. ^ "CAPHARNAÜM - film 2018". Allocine. Retrieved 15 December 2018.
  18. ^ Weissberg, Jay (17 May 2018). "Film Review: 'Capernaum'". Variety. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  19. ^ Felperin, Leslie (17 May 2018). "'Capharnaum': Film Review Cannes 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  20. ^ Yoshida, Emily (18 May 2018). "Prepare to Be Blown Away by the Child Actors in the Heartbreaking Capharnaüm". Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  21. ^ Dowd, A.A. (18 May 2018). "The best movies of Cannes 2018, plus a serious Palme D'Or threat at the end of the festival". Variety. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  22. ^ Ehrlich, David (18 May 2018). "'Capernaum' Review: Despite the Best Baby Performance Ever, Nadine Labaki's Latest Is a Well-Intentioned Mess — Cannes 2018". IndieWire. Retrieved 1 November 2018.
  23. ^ "الثقافة: فيلم المخرجة لبكي "كفرناحوم" الى الأوسكار". 18 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  24. ^ Kozlov, Vladimir (18 September 2018). "Oscars: Lebanon Selects 'Capharnaum' for Foreign-Language Category". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  25. ^ "Academy Unveils 2019 Oscar Shortlists". The Hollywood Reporter. 17 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  26. ^ "2018 EDA Award Nominees". Alliance of Women Film Journalists. Archived from the original on December 21, 2018. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  27. ^ "2018 APSA NOMINEES ANNOUNCED". Asia Pacific Screen Awards. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  28. ^ Frater, Patrick (29 October 2018). "'Shoplifters' Takes Top Prize at Asia Pacific Screen Awards". Variety. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  29. ^ Brown, Mark (9 January 2019). "EE British Academy Film Awards Nominees in 2019". British Academy Film Awards. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  30. ^ Brown, Mark (31 October 2018). "The Favourite dominates British independent film award nominations". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  31. ^ "2018 Audience & Fan Favourite Awards". Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  32. ^ "2018 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards". Chicago Film Critics Association. December 7, 2018. Archived from the original on December 8, 2018. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  33. ^ Harris, Hunter (December 10, 2018). "The Favourite, Black Panther Lead Critics' Choice Awards Nominations". Archived from the original on December 11, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  34. ^ "Les lauréats des Prix La vague 2018 sont dévoilés". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  35. ^ "'Capharnaüm' wins the North Sea Port Audience Award". Retrieved 22 October 2018.
  36. ^ "Les nominations pour Les Globes de Cristal 2019". Retrieved 27 November 2018.
  37. ^ Staff (December 6, 2018). "'Vice,' 'The Assassination of Gianni Versace' lead 2019 Golden Globe nominations". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on December 6, 2018. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  38. ^ "AntalyaFilmFestivali Twtitter". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  39. ^ "AntalyaFilmFestivali Twtitter". Retrieved 5 October 2018.
  40. ^ "Capernaum wins the LIFF 2018 Audience Award for Best Fiction Feature". Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  41. ^ "MIFF 2018 Audience Awards". Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  42. ^ "CAPERNAUM wins the Gigi Guermont Audience Award!". Retrieved 15 October 2018.
  43. ^ "MVFF41 Audience Favorite". Retrieved 9 November 2018.
  44. ^ "Awards presented at The 46th Norwegian International Film Festival". Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  45. ^ "2018 San Diego Film Critics Society Award Winners". San Diego Film Critics Society. December 10, 2018. Archived from the original on December 10, 2018. Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  46. ^ "City of Donostia / San Sebastian Audience Award". SSIFF. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  47. ^ "42ª Mostra de Cinema de SP: mulheres são as grandes vencedoras". Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  48. ^ "Audience Award of the 24th Sarajevo Film Festival". Sarajevo Film Festival. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  49. ^ "Annual StLFCA Awards". St. Louis Film Critics Association. December 9, 2018. Archived from the original on December 10, 2018. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  50. ^ "GREEN BOOK Wins Best Film, CAPERNAUM, THE PUSH Win Awards at 2018 St. Louis International Film Festival". Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  51. ^ "Stockholm Festival Winners Jasmin Mozaffari, Crystal Moselle Talk About Next Projects". Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  52. ^ "Här är vinnaren av årets publikpris". Retrieved 21 November 2018.
  53. ^ Marr, Rhuaridh (December 3, 2018). "'Roma,' 'A Star Is Born' lead winners at DC Film Critics awards". Metro Weekly. Archived from the original on December 4, 2018. Retrieved December 4, 2018.

External links[edit]