‘Capernaum’ Director Left Out ‘Shocking’ Details About Kids on the Streets That Audiences Couldn’t Handle

“The extent of neglect that these kids go through is beyond imagination,” director Nadine Labaki tells TheWrap

Cannes Film Festival’s Jury Prize winner, “Capernaum,” is so “shocking” that its director Nadine Labaki was concerned “people will not be able to handle it.”

When TheWrap sat down with Labaki at the Toronto International Film Festival to talk about “Capernaum” — the story of a 12-year-old boy, Zein, who takes his parents to court for giving him life in a world full of pain and suffering — she said she was reluctant to show everything that happens to these kids on the streets because the truth is just so horrible.

“It’s too shocking and people will not be able to handle it. People don’t handle the truth because it’s too much,” Labaki told TheWrap. “That’s what I’m seeing as a reaction to this film — people say it’s too much… and it’s nothing compared to what the reality is.”

Labaki, who previously had two films, “Caramel” and “Where Do We Go Now?” premiere at Cannes, said she was inspired to tell the story of “Capernaum” because of the refugee crisis and the economic crises happening around the world. She wanted to show the neglect and hardships of the children who live on the streets, not just in Lebanon, but around the world.

“I started talking to a lot of kids and would ask them ‘Are you happy to be alive?’ Ninety-nine percent of the time, the kids would tell you, ‘No, I’m not happy, I don’t belong here. I don’t know why I’m here… Is my purpose only to be punished? And if I’m being punished, what am I punished for? I don’t understand,” Labaki told TheWrap.

“The extent of neglect that these kids go through is beyond imagination.

Labaki directed the film, and wrote the script along with Jihad Hojeily, Michelle Keserwany and her husband Khaled Mouzanar. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the North American and Latin American distribution rights to the film before it even premiered at Cannes.

Watch the video above.