Nadine Labaki has had what you might call a busy year. One of the most successful Arab film directors of the past decade, her latest film as a director, 2018’s Capernaum, was nominated for a host of international awards including an Academy Award, a Palme D’Or and a BAFTA. It eventually won the Cannes Jury Prize. The film also scored commercial success, grossing $55 million… at the Chinese box office. These are numbers and accolades unheard of for any Arab film before it. Now, she can add GQ's Woman Of The Year Award to her list of accolades.
Six months of shooting on Beirut’s streets followed by two years of editing demonstrate that Capernaum, a challenging film about children on the margins of society, was all consuming for Labaki. Indeed, her commitment to this project and subject didn’t end when she shouted cut.
“It should go beyond the film,” she tells us. “Now, I need to start working on the part that comes after the film.”
That part, starting a foundation to keep Capernum’s child actors in school, as well as continuing to follow lead actor Zain Al-Rafeea’s life as he settles as a refugee in Norway, brought her the attention and admiration of Oprah. But as you might imagine, Labaki hasn’t sat back and thought: I’m done.
Indeed, she has plans to lobby laws around child protection, specifically in Lebanon.
When GQ spoke to her earlier this year she’d just returned from the Venice Film Festival promoting a film she starred in this time, Oualid Mouaness’ brilliant tale of childhood infatuation set against the backdrop of conflict, 1982. She didn’t follow it to Toronto for TIFF because, unsurprisingly, her family comes first.
An award winning director, actor and campaigner shining a light on social injustice: Nadine Labaki is our Woman of The Year.
Follow the GQ Men of The Year awards as they happen on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #GQawards and watch this space for the first on all the winners.