Zain Al Rafeea was born in Syria but spent his childhood in the slums of Beirut as a refugee. He was working as a delivery boy in Lebanon when he was discovered and hired by film director Nadine Labaki.
Nadine, about to start shooting ‘Capernaum’, only wanted to work with real-life people and decided to cast little Zain in her movie.
It is a heart-breaking film about an impoverished Lebanese boy of the same name, who sues his parents for, in his words, “giving me life”. Her film was nominated for an Oscar but it lost out to ‘Roma’ for Best Foreign Film.
Nadine was the only female director whose feature film was nominated at Sunday night’s Academy Awards. She was only the second female Arab director to have ever been nominated for an Oscar.
Zain, who is now 14, has since been granted refugee status in Norway with his family and has his own bed for the first time in his life.
Nadine Labaki didn’t take an Oscar home, but still shed light on plight of refugees
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