Lebanese director Nadine Labaki’s 'Capernaum' premiered in Cannes on the final Thursday of the festival, one of just three female filmmakers to feature in the main competition of 21 films. Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, the second highest honour, with the Palme D'Or going to “Shoplifters,” by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda.
Labaki's film was considered a major favorite to win the Palme d'Or at Cannes this Saturday. Had Labaki ended up winning Cannes’ top honor on closing night, she would have been only the second woman to win the prize following Jane Campion for “The Piano".
Based on reports from media persons in attendance, the film recieved a 15 minute standing ovation at it's showing. Members of the press reacted ecstatically to the film on Twitter, with initial reactions describing it in terms such as "sensational," "devastating," and "phenomenal". The film is already being talked about as a contender for the Best Foriegn Language film Oscar race.
Set on the streets of Lebanon's poorest neighbourhoods, the film is a “politically-charged fable” about a child who sues his own family. It tells the story of Zain (Zain Al Rafeea), a little boy who faces five years in jail after a stabbing incident. Most of the characters in the film are played by non-professional actors.
Even before the screening, Sony Pictures Classics purchased North American and Latin American distribution rights to “Capernaum”. The film is marketed by pan-European distribution network Wild Bunch as international sales agent.
Distribution rights were also picked up for the film across worldwide markets, including deals for France (Gaumont), Italy (Lucky Red), Japan (Kino Films), Scandinavia (Scanbox Entertainment), Benelux (Cinéart), China (Road Pictures) and UK (Picturehouse).