Syrian Refugee Boy is the Real Star of the Cannes Film Festival
A 13-year-old Syrian refugee boy became the star of the Cannes film festival Friday for his breathtaking performance in a Lebanese film many see as the likely winner of the Palme d’Or top prize. Zain Al Rafeea, who has been working as a delivery boy in Beirut until recently — and who has only just learned to write his name — turns in a performance in Capernaum that critics said would melt the hardest of hearts.
And young Zain — who is small for his age — endeared himself still further by falling asleep at the press conference Friday afternoon, having stayed up late for the gala premiere the night before. Director Nadine Labaki found his co-star who plays his sister on-screen, Cedra Izam, selling chewing gum in the streets. But it was Zain’s on-screen rapport with an unbearably cute baby Boluwatife Treasure Bankole that created the most cinematic magic.
Actor/Director Labaki said, “These kids are facing extreme neglect. A lot of the things I saw shocked me, children who were incredibly neglected, and I went into children’s prisons.”