• James Rutherford

'War Witch': A Powerful and Arresting African War Drama


Movie poster for the Canadian film War Witch starring Rachel Mwanza and Mizinga Mwinga

“War Witch” aka “Rebelle” (2012) is a profound and enthralling African war drama written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Kim Nguyen, set in an unnamed Sub-Saharan country overrun by civil war.

The storyline follows the travails of 12-year old Komona (Rachel Mwanza) after she is abducted from her rural village and conscripted amongst rebel forces commanded by a fierce warlord known as “The Great TIger” (Mizinga Mwinga). After drinking tree sap that gives her vivd hallucinations and emboldens her in battle against goverment forces, Komona is bestowed with the epithet “War Witch” for her seemingly supernatural abilites in combat. As the film progresses, Komona narrates wistfully to the unborn child growing within her womb, as she experiences the horrors of warfare, the complexities of young love, the heartbreak of loss, and ultimately the transcendence of (at least partial) reconciliation.

Beautifully shot by Nicolas Bolduc and amazingly well acted by mostly non-professionals, “War Witch” was an Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012, and Mwanza won a well-deserved Best Actress award at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival. Equal parts beautiful and savage—uplifting and devastating—“War Witch” is an extraordinarily vibrant and emotionally commanding experience sure to leave an indelible mark on your soul.

 

View the trailer: