The gripping and heartbreaking tale of a 12-year-old refugee trying to survive poverty, abuse and degradation on the streets of Beirut after fleeing from his neglectful parents, Capernaum is cineSarnia’s second film of the fall season and will be screened at the Sarnia Public Library Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 6 and Monday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
Directed by Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki and a winner of the coveted Jury Prize at 2018’s Cannes Film Festival, Capernaum – which means ‘chaos’ in Lebanese, also the name of a biblical village that was cursed by Jesus – is a powerful and intense drama shot in documentary style that follows the trials and tribulations of 12-year-old Zain (played by real life refugee and non-actor Zain al-Rafeea), one of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees who live in Lebanon.
After his derelict and thoughtless parents try and make money by forcing Zain and his young siblings into the drug trade – while also selling off Zain’s 11-year-old sister to a nefarious older shopkeeper – the streetwise and scrappy Zain runs away, preferring to take his chances on the unforgiving streets of Beirut rather than endure his parents’ unceasing exploitation.
Zain eventually takes his parents to court, suing them for the crime of bringing him into this seemingly cruel and miserable world. In a series of flashbacks, the film documents the barbarity and torment that Zain has experienced during his time as a street urchin, experiences that are all too common for the millions of refugees that fled persecution in their home countries, searching for safety in Lebanon.
Though unsettling throughout, the film also showcases a tender and somewhat sanguine side when Zain encounters a fellow refugee, a single mother from Ethiopia named Rahil (real life Eritrean refugee Yordanos Shiferaw), who offers shelter to Zain if he takes care of her infant son Yonas while she works.
While Labaki’s film doesn’t shy away from the very uncomfortable and legitimate experiences lived by young refugees trying to survive the unforgiving streets of Beirut – the director interviewed countless real-life refugees and youth involved in the justice system before she started filming – the subtitled film, which was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars, is actually an inspiring tribute to the tenacity of the human spirit, said cineSarnia’s Anne West.
“It’s a breathtaking film and it’s a very topical story, but by the end of the film I think the audience will feel … some sense of hope,” she said.
“It’s a deep, thought-provoking, emotionally tenuous film which features a cast full of untrained actors, which really adds to its realism,” West added. “But it’s a very powerful film that highlights the refugee crisis in Lebanon in a very authentic way.”
Rush seats are available for Capernaum for $10, beginning at 7:15 p.m.
For those requiring assistance, the library’s elevator runs on Sunday and Monday evenings from 6:45 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. Filmgoers are also asked to refrain from using scented products out of consideration for others.
To watch the trailer or for more information, visit www.cinesarnia.com or follow cineSarnia on Twitter, @cinesarnia.