Téléfilm Canada, which chairs the pan-Canadian Oscar selection, has announced that the feature film War Witch, directed by Quebec Filmmaker Kim Nguyen, has been selected to represent Canada in the nomination race for the category of Best foreign Language Film, as part of the 85th edition of the annual Academy Awards ceremony, which will take place in Hollywood on February 24, 2013.
In the history of the Oscars, seven Canadian films have been nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar: Philippe Falardeau’s Monsieur Lazhar and Agnieszka Holland’s In Darkness, in 2011; Denis Villeneuve’s Incendies, in 2010; Deepa Mehta’s Water, in 2006; and three films by Denys Arcand: Le Déclin de l'empire américain (The Decline of the American Empire) in 1986, Jésus de Montréal (Jesus of Montreal) in 1989, and Les Invasions barbares (The Barbarian Invasions), which won the coveted award for 2003.
Montreal-based filmmaker Kim Nguyen paints a poignant and harrowing portrait of Komona, a 14-year-old girl (wonderfully played by nonprofessional actress Rachel Mwanza) who has been kidnapped from her African village by rebels to become a child soldier. She escapes from the camp with an older albino soldier and experiences for the very first time the joys of a peaceful and loving life, but a fresh tragedy will force her to confront and fight the ghosts haunting her mind.
Although inspired by a real story that took place in Burma, Nguyen decided to film War Witch in the Democratic Republic of the Congo without giving a specific location to the plot. He worked on the film for 10 years, watching and catching children's points of view with his camera and mixing in tightly edited flashbacks in which the spirits of human beings appear with an ultra-realistic and violent storyline. But War Witch is also a poignant and impossible love story filled with magic, picturesque images, and even light moments like the powerful visit to an albino camp or the chasing of a white rooster.