Some films are more than just films. By bringing burning issues to the world’s attention, they can in turn be a catalyst for social change. This is precisely what Lebanese actress and director Nadine Labaki hopes to do through her work. Her latest Oscar-nominated feature Capernaum—which tells the heartbreaking story of a young boy lost in the slums of Beirut, after suing his parents for giving birth to him—dramatically tackles the unresolved issue of child poverty.
The poignant political and emotional resonance of Capernaum has led the film to find huge success internationally, most notably in China, where it has unexpectedly grossed over $44 million. Not only are none of the actors professionals, but they’ve all lived the lives and stories depicted in the film. Fundamentally, Capernaum has never been considered to be an entirely fictional film. But Labaki is about to take the myths surrounding the movie a step further, with her recent announcement at Cannes, where she said she would be making a feature length documentary tracing the making of the movie.
Presiding this year’s Un Certain Regard category at the festival, Labaki made the announcement at a Variety-Kering Women in Motion talk at the Majestic Hotel. “During shooting, fiction became reality”, she explained. The team filmed 520 hours of footage over six months, following three years of research, followed by two years of editing. And although this was already a long process in itself, Labaki declared, “there is still a lot to do […] We’re exploring how we can really make a change with a film”.
Capernaum might be a critically praised box-office hit, but Labaki wants real change on a policy level. As she put it, “I see it as a mission”