Culver City, CA — Sony Pictures Classics presented A Mooz Film Production movie screening of the Nadine Labaei-Directed film “Capernaum” Lebanon’s Official Selection for Best Foreign Film in the 2019 Academy Awards, on Wednesday. “Capernaum,” which means chaos in Lebanese, tells the story of a 12-year-old boy named Zain (Zain al Raffea).
The movie follows his rugged and demanding journey through the poorest areas of Lebanon, as he searched for an escape from his devastating reality.
The opening scene shows Zain amongst friends, each smoking cigarettes and playing with toy guns made of wood, as they ran through the neglected streets. His story was told in flashbacks, dating from the beginning of what started it all, to present-day in the courtroom as he testified against his parents for giving him life.
Through the screening, viewers learned about how Zain is very protective of his brothers and sisters, primarily his younger 11-yearold sister Sahar (Cedra Izam). His
parents and his many siblings all were crowded in one tiny room. His brothers and sisters would lay on the floor to sleep while his mom and dad laid on the couch. The movie gave insight to the family staying in the room for free from a man named Assaad, whom they get their groceries from. Assaad is fond of Sahar, and everyone can see that.
Sahar enjoys the free ramen and licorice Assaad gives her every week, but Zain, who knew the real meaning behind the free gifts, disapproved. One morning, Zain noticed a spot of blood where Sahar slept the night before. He quickly hid the evidence and took her aside, making sure she let no one know about her cycle, or else she could get taken away forever.
“Capernaum” further showed how Zain went to Assaad’s shop to steal pads for Sahar so she could hide her cycle from the rest of the family. His plan was to run away with Sahar because he knows his parents will give her away to Assaad if they find out. Zain made a deal with a local driver and told the driver to wait while he went to get Sahar; however, he was too late. Their parents were dragging a crying Sahar down the stairs, as Zain tried to pull her the opposite direction. His parents cursed at him and hit him, and soon enough, Sahar was long gone.
Sahar’s seize for profit marks the beginning of Zain’s unfortunate slippery slope. During his run away from home, Zain met an Ethiopian refugee named Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw) who agreed to take care of him. Rahil had a 1-year-old son named Yonis (played by Boluwatife Treasure Bankole), but Rahil was eventually arrested and separated from the two. With the separation, Zain was forced to make a decision: give Yonis away or take care of him when he could barely take care of himself.
As “Capernaum” continued to play, the unfortunate series of events ended with Zain stabbing Assaad and serving five years in a juvenile detention center, where he sued his parents for the “crime” of giving him life.
The entire movie depicted events that were very troublesome for anyone, especially a 12-year old. But, Zain never gave up and he kept fighting during the whole movie.
“Capernaum” is heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, hopeful, and beautiful all at the same time. It showed the real-life problems and struggles that third world countries go through; something which we, as Americans, are unaware of or choose to ignore. “Capernaum” was made with a cast of non-professionals playing characters whose stories are similar to their own.
The film was granted Winner of the Jury Prize and also won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2018. There will be another screening on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at the Sepulveda Screening Room in Los Angeles, CA. The official opening for “Capernaum” in Los Angeles and New York will take place on Friday, Dec. 14.
Grab your tissues and be moved by “Capernaum.”