War Witch by Kim Nguyen (Canada, 2012, 90 min.). Komona (Rachel Mwanza) is only 12 years old when she is forced to aid rebels in guerrilla warfare, but out of the atrocities comes an incredible story of human resilience. Komona finds hope for survival in protective, ghost-like visions, and in a relationship with a fellow soldier named Magician. This mesmerizing drama borrows from African legends imbuing the stark reality with a surreal aesthetic. In French and Lingala with English subtitles. 2012 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film.
From the AV Club:
War Witch had its U.S. première at Tribeca in 2012, and the festival went on to award the film its top narrative feature award, and to purchase it for theatrical distribution. It later became one of the year’s Academy Award nominees for Best Foreign Language Film. Still, War Witch doesn’t feel like awards-bait hand-wringing; it follows more in the footsteps of Terrence Malick, with beautiful compositions belying ugly events, and a protagonist whose whispered words guide the audience through a voyage of self-discovery. But where Malick’s characters question their relationship with the spiritual world, Mwanza lives frankly and unquestioningly in an environment defined by ghosts and magic; the film’s English-language title comes from the rebel leader’s insistence that Mwanza has witchcraft on her side, which earns her special treatment, but a guaranteed execution if her powers fail him. And in spite of its periodic gun battles, War Witch is quieter than a Malick film, with long, wordless, often music-free stretches where writer-director Kim Nguyen simply observes Mwanza and her fellow heavily armed anti-government rebels, as they roughhouse, train, sing, drink, slip through the brush in search of enemies, or babble under the influence of hallucinogenic tree sap. Nguyen seems more interested in exploring the child-soldier experience on an intuitive, experiential level than in whipping viewers into specific response.
War Witch is a remarkably mature portrait that trusts its audience to have their own reactions to its material; it doesn’t yank at the heartstrings so much as expertly tune them.
Depending on the size and interest of the group, we'll go to UNO for libations, succor, and discussion!
See you at the movie,