Like most people in the sub-Saharan territory, Komona (Rachel Mwanza) lives in the squalor of her riverside community. At 12 years old, her village is invaded by rebel forces, headed by one called the “Great Tiger” (Mizinga Mwinga), who forcibly recruit and kidnap children, transforming them into ruthless soldiers. For Komona, she was ordered to shoot her parents with an AK-47. “Shoot them, or I will kill them with a machete, and they will suffer more,” prods the invader. She does so, thus she was taken to the rebel camp where they’re forced into manual labor.
Director Kim Nguyen’s “War Witch” (Rebelle) sets his narrative in an unnamed African country, giving spotlight to this virulent infliction of brutal wars in African territories. Nguyen tells his story with impressionistic strokes that's almost anti-schmaltz. Half way through the story, he unexpectedly lunges into rom-com territory: Magician proposes to Komona who would agree to marry the former if he finds her a “white rooster” as a sort-of dowry; one of the traditional pre-wedding practices in the region. Problem is, white roosters are exceedingly rare in Africa. The film swerves to a different flavor when Komona is re-captured by the rebels (after all, how can they win the war without their “witch”) who then becomes sex slave to a rebel commandant (Alain Lino Mic Eli Bastien). To exact her revenge, she finds an avocado seed, cuts it to its core, insinuates a razor blade inside, then places the seed inside her vagina. You can just imagine what transpires with a “forcible entry”, right?
|The real Lord's Resistance Army|
“War Witch” is one of the five Oscar nominees in this year’s Best Foreign Language Film category. It is Canada's entry to the Academy. It already won several awards including Berlin's 2012 Silver Bear Best Actress Award for its 14 year old lead Rachel Mwanza who likewise won at the Tribeca Film Festival. Interestingly, Mwanza was discovered by Nguyen on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital of Congo. Just FYI, Brillante Mendoza's "Captive" joined Berlin's 2012 Main Competition - the first time a Filipino film was able to penetrate the Main Competition in 3 decades after Bernal's "Himala".
|Komona meets the "Great Tiger".|
|Komona's parents ask for proper burial.|
|Director Kim Nguyen|