Labaki in 2012
Nadine Antoine Labaki
February 18, 1974
Labaki was born in Baabdat, Mount Lebanon Governorate, Lebanon, in a Maronite family to Antoine and Antoinette Labaki. Her father is an engineer while her mother is a homemaker. She spent the first seventeen years of her life living in a war-torn environment, until 1991 when the civil war in Lebanon had ended. She began her career with Studio El Fan, a Lebanese talent show, in 1990. The show aired during the 1970s, which continued through to the early 2000s. At the talent show, Labaki won a prize for directing various music video productions.
Labaki obtained a degree in audiovisual studies at Saint Joseph University in Beirut. In 1997, she directed her graduation film, 11 Rue Pasteur, which won the Best Short Film Award at the Biennale of Arab Cinema at the Arab World Institute in Paris. Labaki is unique among her fellow Lebanese and Arab Film Makers in that she was not educated or trained abroad.
In 1998, she attended a workshop in acting at the Cours Florent in Paris. She went on to direct advertisements and music videos for renowned Middle Eastern singers, for which she won several awards.
As a director
In 2003, Labaki's name began to become more popular within the Arab media. 2003 was also the year when she began directing music videos for singer Nancy Ajram. The song, "Akhasmak ah" (I'll taunt you), sparked controversy due to the nudity presented and its sexually explicit dancing.
In 2005, Labaki took part in the Cannes Film Festival Residence for six months, during that time, she wrote Caramel, her first feature film. In 2006, she directed and played one of the leading roles in Caramel, which showcases a Beirut that most people are not familiar with. Rather than tackle political issues that have plagued Lebanon, she presents a comedy that deals with five Lebanese women in Beirut who gather at a beauty salon and deal with issues related to love, sexuality, tradition, disappointment, and everyday ups and downs. The film premiered at the Directors' Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007, which was a commercial success in the summer of that same year. It sold worldwide and collected important prizes at many festivals around the world, garnering Labaki much acclaim both as a director and actress. It also put her on Variety's 10 Directors to Watch list at the Sundance Film Festival. In 2008 the French Ministry of Culture and Communication gave her the Insignia of Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters.
In 2010, Labaki directed and starred in her second feature film, Where Do We Go Now? The film humorously tackles a delicate subject about a village in which church and mosque stand side by side as women try to keep their blowhard men from starting a religious war.
The film also premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in the Un Certain Regard category in 2011. The film won the Cadillac people’s choice award at the Toronto International Film Festival. It also collected many other awards in festivals around the world, like Cannes Film Festival, San Sebastián International Film Festival, Stockholm Film Festival. The film was also nominated for best foreign film at the Critics Choice Awards in Los Angeles.
In late 2013, Nadine Labaki started work on her third feature film called Capernaum which was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or at 2018 Cannes Film Festival. She used mostly non-professional actors for this film, including lead child actor Zain Al Rafeea. Capernaum won the Jury Prize at Cannes, and Labaki won Best Directing at the 12th Asia Pacific Screen Awards.
Labaki's style of cinematography uses cinematic conventions, such as illuminations, atmosphere lighting, and silence to help convey the meaning in her films. Despite the often dangerous political situations Labaki continues to write and direct films that do not focus on conflict.
Her movie "Capernaum" was nominated in the foreign-language Oscars category, which was a first for a female director in 2019. She is the first female Arab director to ever be nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
As an actress
Nadine Labaki started acting in short films during the early 2000s.
As an actor, Labaki starred in Stray Bullet, directed by Georges Hachem in 2010. She appears in the Moroccan production Rock The Casbah, directed by Laila Marrakchi, alongside actors Hiam Abbas and Lubna Azabal.
Through her films, Nadine Labaki connects themes from the Arab world and the Western world. Her transnational feminism highlights ordinary women affected by complex realities deeply rooted in decades of political turmoil. Nadine Labaki was a candidate on the list of the new political movement Beirut Madinati for the capital’s May 2016 local election. Beirut Madinati focuses on social justice and the good of the public utilizing a diverse group of citizens as representatives.
Despite achieving about 40% of the popular vote, the movement lost against its opponent, the 'Beirutis' list' supported by Saad Hariri, in all 6 out of 12 wards, but did not gain a single seat under the election’s one-district First-past-the-post system.
Labaki is multilingual, fluent in Arabic, French, English and Italian. In 2007, she married musician and composer Khaled Mouzanar. In 2009, Nadine Labaki gave birth to her first boy, Walid. In 2016, Labaki gave birth to a daughter, Myron.
In 2016, Labaki received an honorary degree from the American University of Beirut and was the speaker at the 150th Commencement Ceremony.
As a director
- Caramel or Sukkar Banat. Premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. (See Caramel for a list of awards and nominations).
- Where Do We Go Now? released and premiered as part of the Un Certain Regard section at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.
- Rio, I Love You segment: O Milagre 
- Capernaum (2018) premiered at Cannes 2018 in the feature film competition, and won the jury prize.
As an actress
- Ramad (Ashes) - a short film by Joanna Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (2003)
- The Seventh Dog - a short film by Zeina Durra
- Non métrage Libanais (2003) - a short film by Wissam Smayra; Role as Nina
- Bosta - a long feature by Philippe Aractingi; Role as Alia
- Caramel or Sukkar Banat (2007) - Role as Layale
- Stray Bullet (2010) - Role as Noha
- Al Abb Wal Gharib The Father And The Foreigner (2010) by Ricky Tognazzi
- Where Do We Go Now? (2011) - Role as Amale
- Rock The Casbah (2013)
- Mea Culpa (2014)
- Rio, I Love You (2014) - Role as self
- La Rançon de la gloire (2014)
- The Idol (2015)
- Capernaum (2018) - Role as Nadine
In 2014, Labaki was the goodwill ambassador for the bi-lingual and multimedia campaign produced by The Brave Heart Fund (BHF). Based out of the Children’s Heart Center at the American University of Beirut Medical Center, the BHF creates awareness and helps to fund operations and procedures for under privileged children with Congenital Heart Disease.
- نادين لبكي مخرجة لبنانية وممثلة أوروبية
- “Nadine Labaki”. American University Beirut.
- Armes, Roy (2015-01-29). New Voices in Arab Cinema. Indiana University Press. p. 232. ISBN 9780253015280.
- Frishkopf, Michael Aaron (2010). Music and Media in the Arab World. American Univ in Cairo Press. pp. 103 and 104. ISBN 9789774162930.
- Keslassy, Elsa (2016-05-17). "Lebanese Director Nadine Labaki Preps 'Cafarnaúm' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
- Staff (21 November 2018). "'Capernaum' team on Cannes success and the importance of using non-professional actors". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
- Steve, Pond (19 May 2018). "'Shoplifters' Wins Palme d'Or at 2018 Cannes Film Festival". SF Gate. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
- Frater, Patrick (29 October 2018). "'Shoplifters' Takes Top Prize at Asia Pacific Screen Awards". Variety. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
- "Un Certain Regard Jury 2015". Cannes Film Festival. 7 May 2015. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
- ""'Capernaum' Director Nadine Labaki Signs With CAA"".
- "Nadine Labaki is the first Lebanese female filmmaker to ever be nominated for an Oscar". The National. Retrieved 2019-02-09.
- Stafford, Roy (2014-01-10). The Global Film Book. Routledge. ISBN 9781136474583.
- Our Candidates. Beirut Madinati website, retrieved 27 Nov 2016.
- "Beirut Madinati". beirutmadinati.com. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
- "نادين لبكي تنجب وتختار اسماً فريداً لطفلتها.. هل تعرفون معناه؟". lahamag (in Arabic). 2 February 2016.
- "'Rio, I Love You' Omnibus Unveils Directors, Cast and First Images". The Film State. November 12, 2013.
- Capernaum, retrieved 2019-03-22
- "News Details - Brave Heart". www.braveheartfund.org. Retrieved 2018-03-01.