From shoplifting kids to a girl growing up in the wild, a crop of films at Cannes focus on children finding unusual ways to navigate a terrifying modern world The best moment at any film festival is when the films themselves, like party guests whose initial shyness wears off after a couple of drinks, open up and begin to talk to each other. So it is with this year’s Cannes vintage, where a number of features have suddenly begun to pipe up about struggling children and their wayward parents. In Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum a 12-year-old boy, Zain (played by Zain Alrafeea, in a standout performance), decides to sue his parents for bringing him into this world, after finding himself doing time for stabbing someone. The film explores the series of events leading up to his incarceration, showing how the child is asked to forsake school in order to help his struggling parents with their hand-to-mouth existence, selling cups of beetroot juice, dealing drugs to a cousin in prison and working part-time in a shop, before attempting to flee and start a new life elsewhere. Zain’s childhood has been interrupted: the responsibilities he is made to take on rob him of his innocence – he must be capable and strong, and in a sense look after his parents.
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