Capharnaüm for the Oscar

Because it already won our heart
By Helena Saadeh
December 19, 2018

A heart-touching story about a 12-year-old boy living in the slums of Beirut has brought tears and thoughts to all those who saw it. The story revolves around the boy, Zain, who conveys his parents to court because they brought him into this life full of suffering and pain. But there’s more than just this, the plot twists are many and so are the tears. A film like no other, so well-structured in a way that keeps the audience attentive, received a deserved 15-minute standing ovation in Cannes this past May.

The Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, a reference in the world of moving images, is now closer than ever to win an Oscar. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences leaked the shortlists of the semi-finals in nine different categories. The categories are foreign-language film, animated short, documentary feature, documentary short, live-action short, makeup and hairstyling, visual effects, original score, and best original song.

Capharnaüm is among the films shortlisted for an Oscar in the foreign-language film category, with nine other films that were retrieved from 87 submissions.

Nadine Labaki posted a picture on Instagram along this moving caption: “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. What an incredible moment in our film’s journey and a major milestone for Lebanese and Arab cinema.”

The nine movies on the list will be narrowed down to five when the official nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced on January 22, with one month before the Oscars. The nine selected movies, Capharnaüm among them, will be narrowed to five on the 22nd of January, a month before the Oscar.

Throughout its history, Lebanon has offered 15 films for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film since 1978, but it wasn’t until Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult that a Lebanese film was first nominated. Labaki’s movie already took home this year’s Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize, earned a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Golden Globes as well as for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2019 Critics’ Choice Awards.