Beijing Film Fest: Nadine Labaki's Cannes Jury Prize Winner 'Capernaum' Lands China Release Date

The film will get a nationwide release courtesy of Alibaba's Taopiaopiao and specialty distributor Road Pictures, which last year released Palme d'Or winner 'Shoplifters,' which made $14 million.

Cannes Film Festival Jury Prize winner Capernaum, from Lebanese actress turned director Nadine Labaki, is heading to China.

The film has landed a potentially lucrative April 29 release date in the Middle Kingdom, courtesy of specialty distributor Road Pictures and Alibaba's influential ticketing service and digital marketer Taopiaopiao. Road Pictures acquired the China rights to the film at Cannes last year. 

Labaki unveiled the release date at Capernaum's China premiere Monday night at the Beijing International Film Festival, where the cultivation of arthouse cinema in the country has been a key programming focus.

Also written by Labaki, Capernaum stars Zain Al Rafeea as Zain El Hajj, a 12-year-old living in the slums of Beirut. The story, told through flashbacks, focuses on Zain's life and leads to his attempt to sue his parents for child neglect.

Desribing the film as "not subtle, but stirring," THR critic Leslie Felperin praised the picture for the way "Labaki lures such outstanding performances out of the almost entirely non-professional cast." It received a 15-minute standing ovation following its premiere at Cannes last May, later winning the festival's jury prize.

Capernaum will be getting a sizable nationwide release in China, similar to the rollout Road Pictures gave Cannes Palme d'Or winner Shoplifters last August. The delicate family drama, directed by Japanese master Hirokazu Kore-eda, went on to earn $14.1 million in China, compared to just $3.3 million in North America, a new high-watermark for imported arthouse cinema.

Both Capernaum and Shoplifters were nominated for the Academy Award for best foreign-language film at the 91st Academy Awards (Alfonso Cuaron's Roma won). Capernaum earned $1.6 million in North America in a limited release from Sony Classics. 

With its richly emotional storytelling, Capernaum's China box office potential appears promising. The film will run as counter programming to Disney Marvel juggernaut Avengers: Endgame, which opens on April 24. Both titles are well positioned to take advantage of China's Labor Day holiday on May 1.