Nadine Labaki, just won the 2018 Cannes Film Festival's highest award, making her the first Arab female director (another Lebanese woman, Heiny Srour was nominated in 1974) and the second woman to ever claim the accolade (Jane Campion won in 1993 for The Piano).
In her winning speech, she credited her country for taking in the most refugees in the world, despite "not having the means to meet the needs of its own population." She also said how she feels "almost ashamed" to be wearing beautiful gowns (her Cannes dresses were Ellie Saab), when she's promoting a film "about a boy who takes his parents to court for bringing him into a miserable existence."
Taking home the Palme d'Or trophy for her film, Capernaum, Labaki dedicated her prize to the impoverished amateur cast of her movie, adding that she hopes their voices may be better heard because of the film, reports The Sun Daily. But if there is one thing Labaki has made very clear is that she would be annoyed if it was assumed she won because of the #metoo movement. She told the Associated French Press (AFP) that it would be "very irritating" if people interpreted her win because of her gender, explaining it would be like saying, "You're here because you're a woman."
Ever since the Harvey Weinstein scandal, the film industry has seemingly been bending backwards when it comes to female inclusion and gender quotas in film casts and crews, thanks to a campaign spearheaded by Hollywood actresses, including Cannes Jury President, Cate Blanchett.
Labaki doesn't necessarily agree with that. She says that deciding that there must be equality in the industry doesn't mean it's always warranted for women to win. She says films shouldn't be selected based on their gender parity, it should be based on the merit of the work.
But If anyone thinks Labaki's film won based on her gender, they would be completely off the mark.
Aside from the fact that Labaki's only other two films, Caramel and Where Do We Go Now, were both shown in Cannes in 2007 and 2011 respectively. Capharnaum received a 15-minute standing ovation when it premiered in Cannes a few days ago, and won a major distribution deal with Sony Pictures Classics (SPC) right from the get-go.
In fact, SPC bought the rights for the film in North America and Latin America for $1.3 million, and are planning to launch it in time for Oscars season (meaning we may just see Labaki at the Academy Awards next year), according to Deadline.
Now that's what we call a major win.