Caramel (film)

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Caramel poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNadine Labaki
Produced byAnne-Dominique Toussaint
Written byNadine Labaki
Rodney El Haddad
Jihad Hojeily
StarringNadine Labaki
Adel Karam
Yasmine Al Massri
Joanna Moukarzel
Gisèle Aouad
Dimitri Staneofski
Sihame Haddad
Aziza Semaan
Fadia Stella
Fatmeh Safa
Music byKhaled Mouzanar
CinematographyYves Sehnaoui
Edited byLaure Gardette
Distributed byLes Films des Tournelles & City Films Lebanon
Roissy Films (Subsidiary of Europa Corp.)
Release date
  • May 20, 2007 (2007-05-20) (Cannes)
  • August 9, 2007 (2007-08-09) (Lebanon)
Running time
96 minutes
LanguageLebanese Arabic
Budget$1.5 million[1]
Box office$14.2 million[2]

Caramel (Arabic: سكر بنات‎, romanizedSekkar banat) is a 2007 Lebanese film — the first feature film by Lebanese director-actress Nadine Labaki. The film premiered on May 20 at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, in the Directors' Fortnight section.[3][4][5] It ran for the Caméra d'Or.[6]

Caramel was distributed in over 40 countries.[citation needed] The story focuses on the lives of five Lebanese women dealing with issues such as forbidden love, binding traditions, repressed sexuality, the struggle to accept the natural process of age, and duty versus desire. Labaki's film is unique for not showcasing a war-ravaged Beirut but rather a warm and inviting locale where people deal with universal issues.

The title Caramel refers to an epilation method that consists of heating sugar, water and lemon juice. Labaki also symbolically implies the "idea of sweet and salt, sweet and sour" and showcases that everyday relations can sometimes be sticky but ultimately the sisterhood shared between the central female characters prevails.[7]


Caramel revolves around the intersecting lives of five Lebanese women. Layale (Nadine Labaki) works in a beauty salon in Beirut along with two other women, Nisrine (Yasmine Al Massri) and Rima (Joanna Moukarzel). Each one has a problem: Layale is stuck in a dead-end relationship with a married man; Nisrine is no longer a virgin but is set to be married, and in her conservative family pre-marital sex is not accepted; Rima is attracted to women; Jamale (Gisèle Aouad), a regular customer and wannabe actress, is worried about getting old; Rose (Sihame Haddad), a tailoress with a shop next to the salon, is an old woman who had devoted her life to taking care of her mentally unbalanced elder sister Lili (Aziza Semaan), but has found her first love. The film does not refer to any of the political problems or recent warfare that has troubled Lebanon. Rather, Labaki's tale paints everyday people with everyday problems.



Labaki chose to cast mostly non-professional actors.[8]

The shooting of Caramel ended just nine days before the Israel-Lebanon war erupted in July 2006 and was released in Cannes exactly one year after the shooting began. An old clothes shop in the Gemmayzeh area of Beirut District was transformed into a salon where the filming of the movie took place.[7] Caroline Labaki, Nadine's sister, was the costume designer. The music was composed by Khaled Mouzanar. Shortly after the movie release, Labaki married him.


Critical reception[edit]

The film received critical acclaim. As of 16 March 2018, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 92% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 77 reviews with an average rating of 7.1/10. The website's critical consensus states, "Caramel is both an astute cultural study, and a charming comedic drama from a talented newcomer."[9] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 70 out of 100, based on 17 reviews.[10]

Box office[edit]

As of 18 May 2008, the film has grossed a little over $1 million in the US, despite its limited release. Internationally, it has amassed a little over $14 million, making it a very profitable foreign film.[2] It was released on DVD in the United States on 17 June 2008.[citation needed]

Awards and nominations[edit]

The film was Lebanon's official submission to the 80th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.


  • Directors' Fortnight selection 2007.[6]
  • San Sebastian Film Festival Youth Award 2007.[11]
  • San Sebastian Film Festival TCM Audience Award 2007.[11]
  • San Sebastian Film Festival Sebastiane Award 2007.[11]
  • Abu Dhabi Black Pearl for Best Actress for Nadine Labaki, Yasmine Al Massri, Joanna Moukarzel, Gisele Aouad, Siham Haddad and Asiza Semaan during the Middle east International film festival 2007.[12]
  • Variety Middle East Filmmaker of the Year for Nadine Labaki during the Middle East International film festival 2007.[12]



  1. ^ Hamzah, Weedah (14 May 2007). "Cannes Film festival features two Lebanese directors". Ya Libnan. Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  2. ^ a b "Caramel (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  3. ^ "2 Lebanese filmmakers land in Cannes". The Daily Star. 21 April 2007. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  4. ^ "Screenings By Date". Cinando. Cannes Market Co. Archived from the original on 18 April 2007.
  5. ^ "60e Festival de Cannes" (PDF). Festival de Cannes (in French). Akamai. 19 April 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 April 2007. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  6. ^ a b "Long Metrage - Caramel". Quinzaine des Realisateurs. Archived from the original on 15 May 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  7. ^ a b Screen Daily - News
  8. ^ Dawson, Nick. "Nadine Labaki, Caramel". Retrieved 24 May 2016.
  9. ^ "Caramel (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Caramel Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
  11. ^ a b c "AWARD-WINNERS" (PDF). Sansebastian Festival. 29 September 2007. pp. 2–5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 29 December 2008.
  12. ^ a b Archived 10 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ a b c "The Awards - Nominees 2007". Asia Pacific Screen Awards. 2 October 2007. Archived from the original on 14 September 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2008.

External links[edit]