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Nadine Labaki, first female Arab filmmaker to be an Oscar nominee

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Lebanese filmmaker Nadine Labaki made history with her first Oscar nominations, becoming the first female Arab filmmaker to earn the same. Labaki’s refugee drama film, named after an Israeli town Capernaum scores the nomination for a Best Foreign Language Film for Oscar. The Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday. Labaki’s movie also received nominations for this year’s Golden Globes and BAFTAs.

Capernaum, which mutely mentions the relevance of abortion, is a story of a young boy who is victim of the refugee crisis and sues his parents for having him, committing the crime of bringing a life out of neglect. The film is shot in Beirut and takes its name from an ancient Israeli fishing town Capernaum, meaning chaos.

Labaki became a known name among world renowned filmmakers since last May at Cannes when she fetched the second highest award, the Jury Prize, becoming the first Arab woman. Her movie’s screening also earned a 15-minute-plus standing ovation. Her name resurfaced in international film circle in December when her film got shortlisted for the nomination, alongside another eight films from around the world.

The nomination was a major boost for not only Labaki but Lebanese film industry as it was the second film in a row to be nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar after Ziad Doueri’s The Insult, which made it to the list last year.

She expressed her delight and gratitude through her Instagram post which read, “After years of research, tears and sweat, long production hours and sleepless nights, our film has been recognized on this year’s Foreign Language Oscar shortlist among 8 other films from a selection that exceeded 80 submissions from all around the world. We couldn’t be prouder.”

Labaki’s Capernaum was widely expected to be nominated as it was well received by international critics, Oprah Winfrey being one of its open admirers. Backing up Labaki’s work Winfrey, who is also part of the jury, praised the movie on social media. She wrote, “Can’t stop thinking about this movie. Saw it 3 days ago. Didn’t know when I watched it that the cast members were real people, including these 2 phenomenal kids.”

The fate of Labaki’s Capernaum will be announced at 91st Academy Awards which would take place on 24 February.

Among its contenders are Cold War (Poland), Never Look Away (Germany), Roma (Mexico), and Shoplifters (Japan).

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