Lauded “Capernaum” director Nadine Labaki was presented with the Variety International Filmmaker Award at the sophomore edition of the Red Sea Film Festival. During an in-depth conversation with Variety’s senior vice president of global content and executive editor Steven Gaydos, the Lebanese filmmaker and actor spoke about her passion for uplifting female voices, recent social uprisings, working with non-actors and finding the “why” behind a story.

“It’s very important to be working with people who you humanly connect with,” said Labaki, when offering advice to anyone entering the filmmaking industry. “The bond you have with your crew, when you feel you have this support, the love, you can really go anywhere you want. It gives you wings.”

When speaking on the importance of uplifting female voices, the director reflected on the potential of cinema to elevate unheard narratives. “It’s our shared history, our shared hidden codes, hidden suffering, frustrations and taboos. We have so much to say and we’ve learned how to suppress it (…) What’s a better way to say it than cinema?”

Labaki remarked on how recent social and political uprisings fill her with much-needed hope. “Change is coming. It might not come today, it might take time and there might be a high price for many women, but it’s beautiful to see. The system of representation doesn’t work anymore, so it’s interesting to see there is a hunger to change it in many parts of the world.”

The filmmaker, who hasn’t taken the director’s seat since 2019’s Oscar-nominated “Capernaum,” correlates her decision to focus on acting to the overwhelming shifts in the world’s sociopolitical landscape: “I think we’re very lucky to be witnessing this part of history, to be witnessing this shift. It’s impossible to sum it up, that’s maybe why I am not writing my next film yet.”