Rebelle (War Witch)
Komona (Rachel Mwanza, in an astonishing debut) is only 12 years old when she is kidnapped by rebel soldiers and thrown into a horrific life of guerilla warfare. Forced to witness and commit unspeakable acts of brutality, she forms a protective friendship with a young boy in the group, an albino she calls “Magician.” Meanwhile the soldiers attribute her uncanny survival skills to witchcraft. When the two friends escape the rebels’ clutches, it seems possible they can resume a normal life, but the world they live in is one where cruelty and terror reign, and their freedom is short lived.
Shot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, War Witch takes place in an unnamed African country, ravaged by war and controlled by armed militia. Subtle, personal touches, and the spontaneity and depth of Mwanza’s enthralling performance prevent the story from becoming overly sensational or exploitative; there are fleeting moments of vibrancy, joy and wonder too, lending the film an air of magic realism. An extraordinary, humane and deeply affecting testament to the strength of human resilience in the darkest of times, War Witch has deservedly garnered awards around the world.
Winner: Best Film, Best Actress, Tribeca Film Festival; Best Actress, Berlin Film Festival; Best Canadian Film, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Vancouver Film Critics Circle