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Capharnaüm [2018] by Nadine Labaki

Capharnaüm is a rich and moving immersion into the world of kids on the streets of Beirut, Lebanon.  It is also expert filmmaking and even those who are offended by its existence admit these are some of the best performances by young children in the history of cinema.  It is a miserable existence, but told without brutality or pathos.

Having become somewhat jaded by seeing 50 films in the preceding fortnight with the unmissable New Zealand International Film Festival, I was shocked into the silence by the immediacy and deep, intimate empathetic immersion into the life of Zain, a boy of about 12, whose parents have too many children without the resources, energy or enthusiasm to take care of them.  Zain is bitter and caustic in his speech and his eyes are weary and cynical, but he retains a love for his siblings, and when his parents invoke in him a particular unbearable disgust, he runs away to make his own life.  We follow him through the minutiae of his experience with total engagement and compassion, and Zain shows the same compassion himself, despite his precocious world-weariness.

Where else can you expect such intimate and empathetic access to such a world?

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