Zain Al Rafeea

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Zain Al Rafeea
Zain al-Rafeea Cannes 2018.jpg
Al Rafeea at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
Born (2004-10-10) 10 October 2004 (age 17)
Daraa, Syria
NationalitySyrian in Norway

Zain Al Rafeea (Arabic: زين الرافعي, born 10 October 2004)[1] is a Syrian-born actor. He is best known for his starring role in the 2018 Lebanese film Capernaum, which won the Jury Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

Life and career

Al Rafeea was born in Daraa, Syria in 2004 before his family moved to Lebanon in 2012.[2][3] A Syrian refugee, he grew up in the slums of Beirut with his parents.[4][5] He was 12 and illiterate during the production of Capernaum.[6] He was not trained as an actor.[7] Al Rafeea's Capernaum character, Zain, is named for him.[8]

In November 2018, director Nadine Labaki reported Al Rafeea's situation had changed:

Finally, he has a Norwegian passport. He's resettled in Norway. He's been there for the past three, four months. He's going to school for the first time in his life. He's learning how to read and write. He's regained his childhood. He's playing in a garden; he's not playing anymore with knives and in garbage.[9]

Al Rafeea began attending school in Hammerfest.[10]

For Capernaum, Al Rafeea was nominated for the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Performance by an Actor.[11] He also won Best Actor at the 2018 International Antalya Film Festival.[12] The New York Times named his as one of the best performances of 2018, with reporter Wesley Morris writing, "Every once in a while, you leave a movie having seen a performance that mocks all the other acting that came before it".[7] James Verniere of the Boston Herald described Al Rafeea as "part Oliver Twist, part James Dean".[13]

In 2021, he appeared as a villager in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film Eternals.[14]


Year Title Role Notes
2018 Capernaum Zain El Hajj
2021 Eternals Villager

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref
2018 Antalya Golden Orange Film Festival Best Actor Capernaum Won
Asia Pacific Screen Awards Best Performance by an Actor Nominated
New Mexico Film Critics Best Young Actor/Actress Won [15]
2019 The Lebanese Movie Awards Best Ensemble Cast Nominated
FEST International Film Festival Best Debut Won
40th Annual Young Artist Awards Breakout Performance Award Won [16]


  1. ^ "Capernaum || A Sony Pictures Classics Release". Sony Pictures Classics. Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  2. ^ "Après avoir ému Cannes, le petit héros de "Capharnaüm" dort devant la presse". L'Express (in French). 18 May 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Syrian boy takes incredible path from refugee to red carpet - UNHCR Northern Europe". UNHCR. 2019-02-22. Retrieved 2019-11-08.
  4. ^ Ritman, Alex (9 May 2018). "Cannes: Nadine Labaki on 'Capernaum' and Resisting the Lure of Hollywood". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Child actor's journey from slums to stardom". BBC News. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  6. ^ Welk, Brian (20 November 2018). "'Capernaum' Director Nadine Labaki Says Refugee Child Star Is Safe and Resettled (Video)". The Wrap. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  7. ^ a b Morris, Wesley (7 December 2018). "The Best Performances of 2018". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 December 2018.
  8. ^ Grobar, Matt (15 November 2018). "'Capernaum' Director On The High Price Children Are Paying For Society's Mistakes — Awardsline Screening Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 December 2018.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Går på skole i Hammerfest – har hovedrollen i Oscar-nominert film" (in Norwegian). NRK. January 2019. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  11. ^ "2018 APSA Nominees Announced". Asia Pacific Screen Awards. 17 October 2018. Retrieved 24 October 2018.
  12. ^ @AntalyaFF (5 October 2018). "En İyi Erkek Oyuncu / Best Actor Zain Al Rafeea (Kefernahum / Capernaum)" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  13. ^ Verniere, James. "'Capernaum' sheds light on refugee plight in Lebanon". Boston Herald. Retrieved 26 January 2019.
  14. ^ "Angelina Jolie's iconic Elie Saab gown nabs spotlight at 'Eternals' premiere". Arab News. October 19, 2021. Archived from the original on November 5, 2021. Retrieved November 5, 2021.
  15. ^ Magidson, Joey (2018-12-09). "Sunday Precursors: LAFCA, NYFCO, New Mexico, Toronto (And More) All Announcing - Check Back for Updates! • AwardsCircuit - By Clayton Davis". AwardsCircuit - By Clayton Davis. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  16. ^ "2019 Winners". Young Artist Awards. Retrieved 27 September 2019.

External links

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