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Zain Alrafeea Gets Standing Ovation For Capernaum

You Won't Be Able to Stop Sobbing at This Teenage Syrian Refugee's Tearful Cannes Win

Capernaum won the prestigious Palm d'Or award at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, making Nadine Lobaki the first Arab woman to collect the accolade. And if you thought that was enough to make a tear trickle down your cheek, just wait until you see how her co-star reacted.

Zain Alrafeea received a 15-minute standing ovation when the film premiered, the audience was blown away by his performance as a street kid whose parents are too poor to afford the fee to register his birth. It means he lived without any form of ID, access to school, or healthcare and when his parents sell his 11-year-old sister into marriage for a few chickens, he runs away, eventually suing them for giving him life to begin with.

The film is powerful, but what makes it all the more heart-wrenching is the fact that Zain Alrafeea, 13, who was a delivery boy in Beirut before his first acting gig, just learned how to read and write his name because he wasn't going to school, said Egypt Today.

Its eerie how art imitates life, sometimes.

In the clip, Zain cries as the film's director, Lobaki, who also acts in the film, hugs him.

Labaki told the Associated French Press (AFP) that while she's always been a champion for women's struggles because it was something she is more familiar with, she doesn't "feel pressure to talk about woman because she is a woman" because "other things are bothering her now."

The idea for the film came to her on her way home from a party one night when she saw a woman begging on the streets of Lebanon with a sleeping baby in her arms. After that, Labaki became obsessed with those "forgotten" children, neglected by a system that has failed them because it doesn't know how to deal with them. That and the plight of Syrian refugees, modern slavery, and the ill treatment of children, inspired Labaki to write a film, not about celebrating life, but the antithesis of that.

The result is spectacular.

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