|Directed by||Kim Nguyen|
|Produced by||Pierre Even
|Written by||Kim Nguyen|
War Witch (French: Rebelle) is a 2012 Canadian drama film written and directed by Kim Nguyen. It was primarily filmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The film was in competition for the Golden Bear at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February 2012. At Berlin, Rachel Mwanza won the Silver Bear for Best Actress. She also won the award for Best Actress at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.
The film was Canada's entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 85th Academy Awards, and became one of the five nominees. Mwanza was granted a visa to allow her to attend the Academy Awards.
During a civil war in sub-saharan Africa, a 12 year old girl named Komona is abducted by rebel forces to become a child soldier. She is given a gun and told to choose between shooting her parents, who huddle in front of her, or watching them come to a much more painful end via machete. With tears in her eyes, she shoots them. Then, with other captives, she is whisked by motorised canoe up the river and led into a forest where training exercises immediately commence. New recruits are regularly beaten and face near-starvation.
Komonas salvation is her imagination. Stimulated by “magic milk,” a hallucinogen found in sap, she has visions of ghosts in the trees (actors in white body paint, their eyes blank), including those of her parents, who warn her of the enemy’s proximity. She narrowly escapes an ambush after the ghosts alert her to danger.
Word of her supernatural gifts gets back to the Great Tiger (Mizinga Mwinga), who summons her to his side and dubs her his protective “war witch.” It is here that Komona learns of Coltan mining as the primary source of funds backing the war lord.
With her only friend, Magician (Serge Kanyinda), a slightly older albino boy, who introduced her to the sap, she flees the rebel army. The film's middle section is an idyll during which Magician asks Komona to marry him. She refuses unless he catches her a white rooster, and his comical quest for this elusive prize, which is reputed not to exist, is a respite from the rest of the film’s horrors.
For a time, the couple stay with Magician’s uncle, Butcher (Ralph Prosper), who witnessed acts against his family that were so barbarous that Komona refuses to describe them. This peaceful section is buoyed by sparkling fragments of African pop music.
Their euphoria is short-lived. The Great Tiger, needing his war witch, dispatches his soldiers to find Komona, and she is dragged back into the forest, where she becomes the sexual slave of a hateful commander who impregnates her; she wreaks an excruciating revenge.
Komonas ultimate desire is to return to her village and bury her parents’ remains so that her child will not grow up cursed. And the movie reaches a tentative peace as she ritually buries her mother's comb and her father's tattered shirt in shallow pockets of sand.
- Rachel Mwanza as Komona
- Alain Lino Mic Eli Bastien as Commandant-rebelle
- Serge Kanyinda as Magicien
- Mizinga Mwinga as Grand Tigre Royal
- Ralph Prosper as Boucher
- Jean Kabuya as School camp coach
- Jupiter Bokondji as Royal Tiger sorcerer
- Starlette Mathata as Komona's mother
- Alex Herabo as Komona's father
- Dole Malalou as Coltan dealer
- Karim Bamaraki as Biker
- List of submissions to the 85th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film
- List of Canadian submissions for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film
- "War Witch: Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2013-04-08.
- "Rebelle". Tiff.net. Retrieved 11 January 2013.
- "18 World Premieres in the Competition". berlinale.de. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
- "Rebelle de Kim Nguyen en première mondiale à Berlin". cinoche. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
- "'Bel Ami' With Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman Gets World Premiere in Berlin". hollywoodreporter. 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-01-20.
- "Prizes of the International Jury 2012". Berlinale. 2012-02-19. Retrieved 2012-02-19.
- "Cuban 'defector film' takes Tribeca prizes". BBC News. 2012-04-27. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
- "Telefilm Canada announces that Kim Nguyen’s War Witch (Rebelle) is Canada's selection for the Best Foreign Language Oscar". 2012-09-18. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- "Kim Nguyen’s Rebelle (War Witch) was Canada's 2012 Oscar submission for best foreign language film". The Montreal Gazette. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
- "9 Foreign Language Films Vie For Oscar". Oscars. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
- "Oscars: Hollywood announces 85th Academy Award nominations". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- "Oscars 2013: Congolese War Witch hopeful gets US visa". BBC News. Retrieved 2013-02-21.
- "Canadian Screen Awards raises the star wattage". Toronto Star, March 3, 2013.
- Official website
- War Witch at the Internet Movie Database
- War Witch at Rotten Tomatoes
- War Witch on Facebook