‘Capharnaüm’, directed by Un Certain Regard jury president Nadine Labaki, questions the ethics of having children

Posted on April 11, 2019


Read the full article on Firstpost, here: https://www.firstpost.com/entertainment/capharnaum-directed-by-un-certain-regard-jury-president-nadine-labaki-questions-the-ethics-of-having-babies-6430631.html

The Un Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival, second in importance only to the Competition, was created in 1978 by Gilles Jacob, former (and long-time) President of the festival. The aim was to showcase and reward more offbeat fare, or as the festival puts it: “The Un Certain Regard prize awards young talent and encourages innovative and audacious works by presenting one of the films with a grant to aid its distribution in France.” This year’s jury president of this section is the Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, whose Capharnaüm (also known as Capernaum) was part of last year’s Competition and won the Jury Prize. The plot of this Arabic/Amharic film, set in Beirut, is reminiscent of the 1984 Hollywood comedy-drama, Irreconcilable Differences. That, too, was a film told in flashbacks, and its crux, too, was about an adorable little girl who went to court in order to “divorce” her parents who had no time for her.

In Capharnaüm, it’s a little boy (though no less adorable) named Zain. He’s from an extremely underprivileged background, and when the film opens, he’s in a prison for minors. (He stabbed someone.) When he’s brought up to the judge, he says he wants to complain against his parents: “For bringing me into the world.” If the little girl in Irreconcilable Differences wanted more time and attention from her parents, Zain wants something even more basic: a life of dignity. He hates that he lives in a “shitty chicken coop”. He hates that his 11-year-old sister (she’s just begun having her period) was prettified with makeup and sold off in marriage (in exchange for chickens) to a much-older man, ostensibly because she’ll lead a better life. And later, he hates that his mother is pregnant again. The film brings up this point: Should people who are barely able to provide for themselves (be allowed to) have children?

Continued at the link above.

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