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Spotlight on Lebanon: Oprah praises Nadine Labaki's Oscar hopeful Capernaum

The media mogul, and Academy member, has thrown her support behind the Lebanese film

Director Nadine Labaki and Capernaum star Zain Al Rafeea at the 71st Cannes Film Festival last year. Photo: Reuters 
Director Nadine Labaki and Capernaum star Zain Al Rafeea at the 71st Cannes Film Festival last year. Photo: Reuters 

Lebanese director Nadine Labaki is certainly having a moment: her latest film, Capernaum, is currently in the race to be nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar, and is also nominated for a Bafta.

The actual nominees for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language film will be announced on January 22, along with the other nominations, but there is already a shortlist because it's such a large category (you can read more about the process here).

The very good news for Labaki, 44, is that one of the most high profile Academy members (who are the people who vote for the Oscars) has thrown her weight behind the film: Oprah.

The media mogul tweeted this about the film over the weekend:

Capernaum is Labaki's third film and tells the story of children in the slums of Beirut, using a cast of non-actors. The main storyline follows a 12-year-old boy who decides to sue his abusive parents, who he's already fled from, for the "crime" of giving him life.

Oprah pointed out that two of the amateur actors in the film "are so compelling on screen": Syrian refugee Zain Rafea, who was 12 when filming, and Boluwatife Treasure Bankole, who was deported from Lebanon to Kenya in March, according to Reuters.

Celebrated filmmaker Ava DuVermay responded to Oprah's tweet, also with praise for Labaki's film: "Watched it on Cannes jury. So beautiful. What gorgeous performances. Woman director!"

Labaki made history last year with Capernaum when she because the first female Arab director to win a major prize in competition at Cannes, picking up the Jury Prize for the emotional story, which received a standing ovation at the festival.

Capernaum isn't the only film Oprah has given an encouraging nod to Black Panther - she spoke in London in front of more than 100 Academy members last week, and called the Marvel film, "a phenomenon in every way, on every level".

"Makes me tear up to think that little black children will grow up with 'Wakanda forever,'" she added. "It's game-changing, it's pride-making, it's dazzling, it's phenomenal."

epa06424209 Oprah Winfrey holds the 2018 Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award in the press room during the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, USA, 07 January 2018. EPA/MIKE NELSON
Oprah Winfrey holds the Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award, which she was awarded in 2018. Photo: Reuters

Click to play: Capernaum receives standing ovation at AFI Fest:

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Read more:

Nadine Labaki on her historic Cannes win: 'I want it to become more than a film'

Oscars 2019 set to go host free? Here's who we'd like to see in the job

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Updated: January 13, 2019 02:44 PM

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