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"War Witch": Children Soldiers Having Children 

Wednesday, Mar 13 2013

Kim Nguyen's War Witch follows a 14-year-old African girl named Komona (Rachel Mwanza) as she explains in flashback to her unborn child why she'll probably have to kill him as soon as he's born. Her troubles begin when she is forcibly recruited into a rebel army at 12 and made to kill her parents as an initiation. After that, things get dark — but not oppressively so, as Komona's ability to see ghosts earns her favor with the head rebel, favor which she rejects to run off with a fellow underage recruit (Serge Kanyinda). War Witch is set in a world in which not even the tendency of men with guns to screw everything up can overcome the impulse toward love, family, and not-killing-people. The West occasionally seeps through the edges, be it in the form of an Abercrombie & Fitch shirt or the rebels watching a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie on television — hardly positive influences. As a Best Foreign Film nominee, War Witch occupies something of a middle ground in 2012's "young girl struggles to keep it together in impossible circumstances" film cycle, being more well-known than Cate Shortland's Lore but nowhere near as lauded as Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild, though it deserves to be.

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Sherilyn Connelly


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