2018 is shaping up to be a stellar year for Nadine Labaki. Lebanon’s critically acclaimed actor, writer, and director, who has been honored with a plethora of awards throughout her illustrious career, might be in the running for yet another one. The star’s third feature film, Capernaum, has been selected as Lebanon’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards 2019.
Announcing the accolade on her Instagram page, the accomplished director said: “We are incredibly honored to represent Lebanon in this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar race. This is a film from the heart – and we’re very grateful for everyone who supported the film and its message.” However, the entry comes as little surprise to those of us who followed Labaki’s journey at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where Capernaum scooped the prestigious Jury Prize, making Labaki the first Arab film director and second woman to ever claim the coveted award. The film also received a 15-minute standing ovation at its premiere at the French festival, with many speculating Capernaum could receive an Oscar nomination.
Capernaum, which Labaki also co-wrote, is heartfelt and politically charged drama that tells the story of a neglected 12-year boy in Beirut, who takes his parents to court for giving him life in a world of pain and suffering. It follows the director’s debut, Caramel, which was set in a beauty salon in Beirut, and Where Do We Go Now?, about a group of women who look at ending sectarian violence in their village.
Caramel received a nomination for the 2007 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, while Where Do We Go Now? also received rave reviews at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and won the 2011 People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival. Should Labaki be nominated in next year’s Oscars, it will mark the second consecutive time Lebanon has received a nod, after Zaid Doueri’s The Insult made the shortlist for Best Foreign Language Film in the 2018 awards.