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Capernaum

  • Fenimore Art Museum 5798 State Highway 80 Cooperstown, NY 13326 United States (map)
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In Capernaum, Lebanese writer/director Nadine Labaki tells the fictional but all-too-possible tale of Zain (played by amazingly talented 13-year-old Zain Al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for giving him life. Street-smart Zain, while taking care of Ethiopian refugee Rahile and her baby son Yonas, maneuvers his way around the streets of Beirut with startling skill. After getting jailed for a crime, Zain seeks his own justice by suing his parents with the help of a lawyer, played by filmmaker Labaki. She came upon this plot after visiting refugee camps and children’s prisons and realizing she wanted to force people to see the issues in children’s rights, citizenship and documentation, border crossing, and migrant work. Using mostly non-professional actors, Labaki frequently filmed scenes based on what she observed, capturing her characters spontaneously interacting. Tender and intense, the film well illustrates the inhumanity and chaos of our laws and borders. Capernaum won the Jury Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. (Nadine Labaki, 2018, Lebanon, 126 minutes)