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Nadine Labaki (Arabic; نادين لبكي ) is a Lebanese actress and director. She is one of the well known directors in the Arabic music video industry. Nadine is usually credited for bringing artists into the scene.
In 2007, Labaki co-wrote, directed, and starred in her feature-film debut, Caramel, which became an international sensation at film festivals and went on to achieve box office success. It showcases a Beirut that most aren't familiar with. Rather than tackle political and religious issues which have plagued Lebanon, she presents a romantic comedy that deals with five Beirut women who gather at a beauty salon and deal with love, sexuality, tradition, disappointment, and everyday ups and downs.
The film garnered Labaki much acclaim as both a director and actress, and put her on Variety's 10 Directors to Look Out for List.
Born in Baabdat, Lebanon on the 18th of February 1974 to Antoine and Antoinette Labaki, Nadine participated as a contestant on the televised talent show, Studio el fan, in the early 90's in the "directing" category. For the competition, she directed a music video, "Habeebi Ya", for an amateur singer called Carla. Carla is now a well known presenter in Rotana music channel's program, Rotana Café.
Her first video was "Tayr El Gharam" for the Lebanese artist Pascale Machaalani. Later on, she did another two videos for Noura Rahal, but these videos didn't draw much attention. Her follow up effort with Katia Harb for the music video of the song "Ma Fina", garnered more recognition.
Labaki's real breakthrough was Nancy Ajram's video, "Akhasmak Ah". The video showcased Nancy as the waitress of a traditional Egyptian coffee shop where she serves and entertains male customers. The video raised controversy, but Nadine justified her use of this character as a powerful and attractive female figure.
Nadine continued to have huge successes with Ajram in specific, in videos like "Ya Salam" (that portrays the life of a sad star), "Lawn Ouyounak" (a magical wedding), and "Inta Eih" (a heart-breaking drama in which she was able to show us Ajram's acting ability). The three videos gained huge popularity, and they were awarded with best music video honors.
Unlike her fellow Arab directors, Labaki is known for a unique style of direction which pushes buttons and explores territories that most haven't dared venture into in the Middle East.
In an interview aired on Future Television, both Nadine and Caroline stated that their passion for production and directing is derived from their uncle (their mother's brother). They described the way he used to recount his directing visuals as if he just envisioned them.
She also started exploring acting, initially in the Lebanese movie Bosta. However, she did not perform the singing shown in the film.
In 2007, Nadine continued to escalate her career with her first feature film, entitled Caramel. As well as directing the film, she acted one of the lead roles. The film was met with much acclaim in Lebanon and around the Middle East. It also premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival during Directors' Fortnight. It continued its run at several other high-profile film festivals, including the Toronto Film Festival and AFI. Caramel grossed well over $13 million dollars, having cost $1.6 million to make. It continues to expand in different countries around the world, including the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom.
Shortly after the movie release, Labaki married Khaled Mouzanar, the music composer for Caramel.