Labaki to take up Cannes jury duties

Capernaum director in charge of Un Certain Regard

by Richard Mowe

Cannes Un Certain Regard jury president Nadine Labaki as she appeared in her film Caramel
Cannes Un Certain Regard jury president Nadine Labaki as she appeared in her film Caramel Photo: Unifrance
Nadine Labaki, who was garlanded with praise and prizes for her third feature Capernaum, nominated in the Oscars and the Golden Globes as well as the recipient of the jury prize at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, will be back on the Croisette this year as president of the Un Certain Regard jury.

The Lebanese director, actress and screenwriter, succeeds Benicio Del Toro in the role. Her three feature films all bowed at the Cannes film Festival. She has the distinction of being the first Arab female filmmaker to be nominated for an Oscar.

Nadine Labaki, Un Certain Regard jury president
Nadine Labaki, Un Certain Regard jury president Photo: Fares Sokhn
After the Festival announced her participation in the 72nd edition today she said: "I remember back when I used to come to Cannes as a film student, I was so excited to experience the world's most prestigious festival. Back then, it seemed so out of reach to me. I remember getting up early in the morning and the endless queues to get a ticket. It seems like yesterday, but it was15 years ago that I filled in the Festival de Cannes' Cinéfondation registration form, my heart full of hope and my hand shaking.

"Today, I am the President of the Un Certain Regard Jury, which just goes to show that sometimes life can be even better than your dreams. I can't wait to see the films in the Selection. I can't wait to debate and discuss, to be shaken up, to find inspiration in other artists' work.”

Capernaum which means chaos in Arabic, tells of a 12-year-old boy, Zain, who lives in a Beirut slum and whose parents are incapable of taking care of him. Having run away from home, he lives for a while with an illegal immigrant from Ethiopia. Labaki worked with a cast of non-professionals.

In 2004, she took advantage of a Residency at the Festival de Cannes to write Caramel, her first feature film, which she made two years later. It was first presented at Directors’ Fortnight in 2007 and then screened all over the world, going on to become the biggest international hit in Lebanese film history. Labaki returned to Cannes in 2011 with Where Do We Go Now?, a bold and universal parable on tolerance.

The Cannes Film Festival whose programme launch is scheduled for the middle of April, runs from 14 to 25 May.

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