Rising star: Nadine Labaki, director

Killian Fox: Labaki wanted to show a different side of life in her homeland, Lebanon, from the civil unrest

Labaki wanted to show a different side of life in her homeland, Lebanon, from the civil unrest. Her debut feature Caramel, which received a standing ovation at Cannes last summer, does just that. 'We are not a sad, grey people. We have a strong will to live.'

A colourful, often funny drama exploring the lives of five women who frequent a Beirut beauty salon, Caramel draws attention to the difficulties Lebanese women face day to day.

It's not the first time the 34-year-old, who is also renowned for her music videos, has tackled such issues. 'I created an image in my videos of a woman who is very free with her body, which most Lebanese women are not. This image is now a role model across the Middle East.'

Labaki's talent emerged early. A short film she made while studying media at Beirut's Saint-Joseph University won first prize at both the Beirut Film Festival and the Biennale des Cinemas Arabes in Paris.

Labaki also stars in Caramel, with a cast of first-time actors. She has a close connection with the music as well: last October she married the film's composer, Khaled Mouzanar.

While she prepares her second feature, also to be set in Beirut, her younger sister Caroline, who designed the costumes for Caramel, is planning a debut of her own. 'She's working on a film and it will be great. This is a dream we've always shared.'

· Caramel is out on 16 May


Killian Fox

The GuardianTramp

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