This shortlist of accolades should come as no surprise; the film combines a compelling narrative with tremendous performances and visually stunning imagery. It examines the harsh realities of poverty through the eyes of a child. A brutal tale, with timely relevance, humor, and warmth. Even though the film is set in the poorest slums of Beirut, it’s title “Capernaum” (or “Capharnaüm”) comes from an ancient city where Jesus is said to have performed various miracles. Today, however, the word is used colloquially, albeit very rarely, to describe something terribly disorderly.
ARRI was able to speak with up-and-coming cinematographer Aoun about his experiences on the film and the ARRI camera equipment he chose to use. “We shot over 6 months—90 days of shooting—with a 50-person crew and non-professional performers,” Aoun recalled. “We filmed mainly in Beirut and its suburbs and the film was almost completely shot handheld, except for the court scenes, the opening scenes, the drone shots and few Steadicam shots.”
It was clear from our conversation that Aoun and Labaki worked quite closely not only during the shooting on the picture but also in its development stages. “While preparing the film, both the director and I had the feeling that most fiction films feel very ‘limited,’ in the sense that we felt the borders outside of the frame, the mise en scene, the acting, lighting.... We wanted to get away from that and place our film inside a real, authentic world in which our heroes live while the story develops. We knew we needed to get away from classical film set structures in order to make this film possible, we had to find a way of integrating our characters in our world and let them evolve as authentically and close to the script as possible ” mentioned Aoun.