CAPHARNAÜM – Oscar Worthy Masterpiece – plus WIN TICKETS

CAPHARNAÜM is one of those movies that grabs you by the heart and won’t let go. It gets into your very humanity and it hurts that things like this are occurring in the world. What the movie achieves in storytelling is a tribute to moviemaking, it’s a bloody masterpiece but you have to work for it via a little trip to a child’s hell. CAPHARNAÜM has been nominated for an Academy Award at this year’s Oscars and it damn well deserves it.

It is releasing this Thursday 7th February in Australia from Madman Films, it is rated M and runs for 126min. And the good news is that we have 10x double passes to giveaway to see it. Details are listed after the review. It is coming out this week so it’s a real quick comp – drawing on Wednesday – get in fast.

Capharnaüm Zain Al Rafeea image
Zain Al Rafeea



Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, with a 15min standing ovation, Nadine Labaki’s CAPHARNAÜM (Chaos) tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life. CAPHARNAÜM follows Zain, a gutsy streetwise child as he flees his negligent parents, survives through his wits on the streets, is taken in by Ethiopian refugee, Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw), and takes care of her baby son, Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole). Because life can’t get worse he ends up being jailed for a violent crime, and finally, seeks justice in a courtroom.

Capharnaüm Zain Al Rafeea image
Zain Al Rafeea


CAPHARNAÜM is a look at the worst of the worst of poverty in the slums of Lebanon. The thing that really hurts in this film, where the title means “Chaos,” is that everything in the movie is from a real experience and every actor in the movie has experienced something that occurs in the movie. The lead actor himself, the young and incredibly talented Zain Al Rafeea, is a Syrian refugee, Yordanos Shiferaw was an undocumented worker and the list goes on.

The film is incredibly painful to watch at times, and will bring forth all your tears. In the middle of the movie I kept wondering how long this would continue to torture me but by the end it’s message was loud and clear and more powerful than I could imagine. It makes you realise that in some parts of the world children are actually treated like mangie dogs, even by their parents.

Nadine Labaki directs non talented actors with the skill of a Scorcese, what she brings out of the cast is inspiring, there is so much desperation for love and support and simple human decency that these people have truly fought for, the look in the eyes of both Zain and Yordanos speaks volumes, like they were reliving nightmares from their past in the moment.


The suing of Zain’s parents in the movie really is a small subplot, the details in this movie are in the journey. The suing is more the delivery tool for the message. But the message surrounding it is a huge scream from a mountain. How can you bring children into this level of desperate poverty? Hearing Zain’s mother describe being pregnant again as being God’s gift for a child dying made me sick to the stomach. But this is reality. I would be as angry as Zain if I could even make it through the hell he experienced, there is literally no one there to help.

There is a small irony in the movie that needs a mention. The film’s message is “how can you bring children into this?” But the film itself relies on one of those children who has overcome this. To some extent that is why? But Zain’s story is a fictional hero in a world with very few heroes and next to no-one who escapes the vicious cycle of poverty.

Capharnaüm Yordanos Shiferaw image
Yordanos Shiferaw


CAPHARNAÜM was made with a cast of non-professionals playing characters whose lives closely parallel their own. Following her script, Labaki placed her performers in scenes and asked them to react spontaneously with their own words and gestures. When the non-actors’ instincts diverged from the written script, Labaki adapted the screenplay to follow them.

The combination of this filming method and using the actors who have been there, done that, or still doing that, is what makes this movie an Oscar contender. I actually think Zain Al Rafeea gave a better performance than every American male nominated in the best actor category of the Oscars. The print we viewed has a section after the credits where Zane is caught-up with a while after filming and his true story revealed. As a Syrian refugee his family was currently being housed in a tiny room in Lebanon (I think?) – a while after the movie had finished filming his family had received relocation to Norway and he was so happy because finally he could go to school. I think I cried more during this post credit section because it reminded me I had watched fiction and the real-life Zain was going to make it.

His command of the lens was powerful and his confidence with other, much old actors, was refreshing. His chemistry and dedication to keeping little Yonas alive was heartbreaking. The character’s internal goodness outweighed the desire for self preservation – that was a better parent in the body of small child than his own parents.

Yordanos Shiferaw’s performance was as powerful, how could one have mentally survived in a prison not knowing if her baby was alive or dead and being cared for by a 12yr old. That turmoil on her face was terrifying.

Capharnaüm Zain Al Rafeea and Boluwatife Treasure Bankole image
Zain Al Rafeea and Boluwatife Treasure Bankole



I never thought I would come across one of my Top 10 Films of 2019 in January but here we are. CAPHARNAÜM is one of the most difficulty haunting but also beautiful movies you will see in your lifetime. It’s about a hero who doesn’t work for Marvel, although Thanos would justify his finger clicks based on Zain’s circumstances. Zain gives us more humanity in a human being than the world deserves. This movie makes me want to be a much better human being.

Capharnaüm Zain Al Rafeea and Boluwatife Treasure Bankole image
Zain Al Rafeea and Boluwatife Treasure Bankole


With special thanks to Madman Films and Nixco to win one of the 10x Double Passes on offer you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage). Further to this you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following questions:

What is your favourite dramatic film with a child lead actor and why?

If you do not have social media then you can still enter, leave your entry below in the comments and then email me at telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).

This is a game of skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges. 

The prizes will be drawn on or before February 6th. Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this competition is only available to Australian residents.


Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.

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