The Big Issue : Edition 579
30 #VENDORWEEK 25 JAN–7 FEB 2019 More than 13 million children are refugees. Yet we rarely hear from them. One director decided to change that. IfThis Child CouldTalk... NADINE LABAKI LOVES watching kids on screen. “They make the most sense sometimes,” says the award-winning Lebanese director. “They haven’t been altered by hypocrisy, society’s codes and politics. It’s nurturing, in a way.” She should know. She’s spent the last few years working with disenfranchised children in her country to craft her evocative third feature, Capharnaüm. Following the story of a boy who sues his parents for bringing him into the world, it’s about isolation, injustice and endurance. Desperate but defiant, Capharnaüm reveals pockets of Beirut decimated by poverty. Shot low to the ground, the film shows cramped streets, shanty towns and market stalls from the perspective of pre-teen Zain (Zain Al Rafeea). After escaping a “home” plagued by violence and neglect, he’s taken in – for a time – by Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw), an Ethiopian woman living illegally in Beirut with her baby Yonas (mesmerising Boluwatife Treasure Bankole). Their makeshift family offers some respite in the wholly confronting story, eked out through disjointed timelines and surprising narrative devices. Making Capharnaüm changed Labaki as a person. By all accounts, it was equally transformative for the cast, too. “We shot for six months so they grew with me,” the director says. “Treasure almost made her first steps. Zain was 12 but he looked eight because of malnutrition. He grew, took some weight, his voice changed. “You get attached to them,” she says of the formidable, untrained youngsters. ZAIN AL RAFEEA WITH BABY YONAS.