In 2011, Montreal filmmaker, Kim Nguyen, traveled to the Democratic Congo Republic to film his scenario/screenplay, War Witch. In 2012, it garnered Best Actress award at the Berlin Film Festival, an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Picture and Best Film at the Tribeca Film Festival. In 2013, we still await distribution of this film in theatres, though a good DVD version is readily obtained.
Yes, it does spend much time upon child soldiers in Africa. No, it’s not a film about child soldiers. It’s a film about one such child who grows up very quickly and shows us (and her soon-to-be-born child) the vast differences between military battle and a much wider war.
During her days as a drug-augmented paragon of insight, grace and deadliness, she would be in preparation for bringing rare integrity to a complex course of social possibilities.
With one of her comrades, who wants to marry her, she escapes the rebel army. Setting him the almost impossible task of finding a white rooster, she slides into the loopiness of the Princess, in Jacques Demy’s Donkey Skin. To rise above such frivolity and to inhabit the orbit of Robert Bresson’s Balthazar is no small imperative.
Her lover murdered by a rebel commander who impregnates her and in turn is macheted by her, she faces an extremely uncertain future. But she does so as an extraordinarily surreal and twenty-first century woman, a Belle (Beauty) conjoined with many edifying and not so edifying Betes (Beasts).
She muses, “Each day I pray God to give me the strength to love you…even if you look like your father.” (A variant of this meditation on tolerating and enjoying others being, “Each day I pray to God I won’t throw you in the river…”)
It looks as if the only way we’ll ever see this gem is by way of DVD. Don’t miss the chance!