With only a couple days left before the Cannes jury announces this year’s prizewinners, the festival may have saved the biggest Palme d’Or contender for the end. “Capernaum,” the new drama from Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, earned a massive 15-minute standing ovation following its May 17 premiere at the festival, according to the glowing first reactions. Numerous members of the press reacted strongly to the film on Twitter following the screening, with many predicting “Capernaum” walks home with the Palme d’Or.
“Capernaum” is billed as a “politically-charged fable” that follows a child who sues his own family. The movie is notable for being one of only three films directed by women to compete for the Palme d’Or at this year’s festival. If Labaki ends up winning Cannes’ top honor on Saturday, she will become only the second female director to win the prize following Jane Campion for “The Piano.” Actresses Lea Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos shared the Palme d’or with director Abdellatif Kechiche for “Blue Is the Warmest Color.”
Sony Pictures Classics purchased North American and Latin American distribution rights to “Capernaum” early in the festival before the film screened, an early sign of confidence for the drama. The deal was estimated to cost $1.3 million. The distributor is expected to campaign the movie for next year’s best foreign language Oscar.
Labaki is a Cannes regular, but “Capernaum” is the first time she’s competed for the Palme d’Or. The filmmaker was part of Directors’ Fortnight in 2007 with “Caramel” and premiered “Where Do We Go Now?” in the Un Certain Regard section in 2011. The latter received an Ecumenical Special Mentions prize.
Check out first reactions to “Capernaum” below.
Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum just got a solid 15 minute standing ovation. No exaggeration. #Cannes2018
— Tatiana Siegel (@TatianaSiegel27) May 17, 2018
Capharnaüm – Jaw. Drop. This is phenomenal, the most powerful film I’ve seen at #cannes2018 this year. Nadine Labaki has made a knock out; a film about abuse of children, challenging us to rethink how we can build a better society for all. Wow.
— Alex Billington (@firstshowing) May 17, 2018
#cannes2018 Avec #Capharnaüm Nadine Labaki frappe un grand coup en cette fin de festival. Cette histoire de gamin qui essaie de sauver sa peau est d’une humanité saisissante. Un kid des temps modernes. Il sera au palmarès samedi soir. 🤞 pic.twitter.com/wXvMD0Tdz9
— Mathieu Charrier (@MaTCharrier) May 17, 2018
Nadine Labaki’s sensational Capernaum turns a street kid’s struggle into a kind of social-realist blockbuster. Middle hour is so crazily ambitious I’m not clear how she pulled it off: watch this win the Palme on Saturday, maybe the foreign language Oscar next. #Cannes2018
— Robbie Collin (@robbiereviews) May 17, 2018
Just got out of CAPHARNAUM directed by Nadine Labaki. Gutted. This will won the Palm D’ore. @Festival_Cannes
— Michelle Morgan (@MichelleMorgan_) May 17, 2018
— Radek Folta (@rdfolta) May 17, 2018
— erickohn (@erickohn) May 17, 2018
L’inépuisable standing ovation à l’issue de la projection du film #Capharnaüm réalisé par Nadine Labaki, présenté en sélection officielle à Cannes 👏
— cinemacanalplus (@cinemacanalplus) May 17, 2018
Nadine Labaki’s “Capharnaum,” a portrait of extreme poverty, despair, anger and resilience in the case of a young Lebanese boy, is masterful. Zero story tension but it may be the saddest film I’ve ever seen. I kept thinking back to late ’40s Italian neo-realism. Devastating.
— Hollywood Elsewhere (@wellshwood) May 17, 2018
Nadine Labaki’s CAPHARNAUM sure ain’t subtle, but it hits *hard*. At times deeply flaws, at others staggeringly sad. I’ll be shocked if this doesn’t win the Palme! #Cannes2018
— James McAllister (@jamesmca90) May 17, 2018