Recently I had a chance to watch Capernaum – a Lebanese, award winning film, directed by the very talented Nadine Labaki, who has rendered a thought-provoking and audacious drama of lives in relentless chaos in the backstreets of Beirut.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
The film is about a street-smart, quick-witted, and hardened 12-year-old boy, who runs away from his negligent parents, commits a violent crime, and is sentenced to five years in jail. In the end he sues his parents to protest the life they have given him.
THE MAIN CHARACTER(S):
The protagonist, Zain (Zain Alrafeea), an immensely likeable kid with an unsmiling face, fights tooth and nail against all forms of injustice that Lebanese society metes out: his family, his friends, strangers and even the government. Two other characters stand out: Ethiopian refugee, Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw) and her baby son Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole). This toddler is the best baby-actor, ever!
There is something of Twain’s Huck Finn about Zain— a wily, footloose, and imaginative boy whose wanderings illuminate the absurdities and horrors of the larger world. He’s also, in circumstance if not in attitude, like a Dickensian hero navigating a metropolis where poverty and cruelty threaten to overwhelm kindness and fellow feeling. The sorrow inherent in this tale would be unbearable without the film’s flashes of humour and performances by a cast of non-professional actors that are both realistic and intense.
Watch this if you enjoy taking a deep dive into realistic life struggles of other cultures.