War Witch

2013

War Witch

Critics Consensus

War Witch is a mature, intense drama that embraces the bruatlity of its subject and invites the audience to sympathize with its protagonist's nightmarish circumstances.

94%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 63

78%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,167
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War Witch Photos

Movie Info

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. (c) Tribeca film

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Cast

Alain Bastien
as Rebel Lieutenant
Ralph Prosper
as The Butcher
Mizinga Mwinga
as Great Tiger
Jean Kabuya
as School Camp Coach
Jupiter Bokondji
as Great Tiger's Sorcerer
Starlette Mathata
as Komona's Mother
Alex Herabo
as Komona's Father
Dole Malalou
as Coltan Dealer
Sephora Francoise
as Butcher's Mother
Jonathan Kombe
as Kind Policeman
Marie Dilou
as Exorcist
Gauna Gau
as Brawny Albino
Renate Wembo
as Clinic Nurse
Alexi Sabwe
as Worrying Man in Clinic
Kazadi Zadio
as Strong Man
Bonaventure Kabama
as Laughing Farmer
Angele Okito
as Laughing Farmer's Wife
Agnes Mujinga
as Old Woman in Truck
Moise Ilunga
as Hearse Driver
Diplome Amekindra
as Great Tiger's Guard
Papa Michel
as Kid Soldier School
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News & Interviews for War Witch

Critic Reviews for War Witch

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (21)

Audience Reviews for War Witch

  • Feb 07, 2016
    Barbaric and unforgiving, War Witch (2012, Canada) is a horrifying tale of child soldiers. Invested in the darkness of humanity although offering a brief comedic respite, War Witch is a socially relevant commentary aware of the repercussions of war and power. Dark 7
    Jan Marc M Super Reviewer
  • Apr 13, 2014
    A young girl is recruited to join a child army, and when she escapes and forms a relationship with a fellow soldier, she tries to find solace in a dangerous world. Tense and depressing almost to the point of cliche, every horrible thing that you can imagine happening to a child does without fail. Portraits of desolate and uninviting worlds are always better when the characters have a hope the audience can share (think Midnight Cowboy's "Florida" or economic security in They Shoot Horses, Don't They). These hopes don't have to be tangible or even practical, but they have to be there otherwise we're stuck in Lars von Trier-hellscape. So War Witch is just one woe after another, and while the performances were natural and strong, the plot makes the film a downer in all the wrong ways. Overall, if you want to hate the planet for a while, watch this film.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Apr 03, 2013
    A 12-year old girl is abducted from her African village by rebels and forced to become a child soldier; when her military commanders decide she has magical powers, she is declared the army's "war witch." A romantic subplot involving an albino magician and his quest for a white rooster briefly lightens this sad fairytale about the very real, very dark phenomenon of child military slavery.
    Greg S Super Reviewer
  • Mar 08, 2013
    At the age of 12, Komona's(Rachel Mwanza) village is raided by rebels. She is kidnapped along with many other youths, and forced to kill her parents(Starlette Mathata & Alex Herabo). Afterward she is trained to be a soldier on the fly with no shortage on brutality except for the occasional sign of kindness like Magician(Serge Kanyinda) sharing cookies with her. When marching one day, she encounters ghosts who warn her of an impending government ambush which ends up saving her life. As word is spread of her extranormal ability, she is summoned to the camp of Great Tiger(Mizinga Mwinga), the rebel leader. "War Witch" is an unpredictable movie about the continually urgent issue of child soldiers in Africa, as two sides fight over the limited resources of an impoverished country. Overall, the movie's approach is more ethereal than visceral, yet no less effective.(Any strangeness can be ascribed to this being a Canadian production.) At one point in the narration, Komona says about an unrelated horrific crime that if she told us(and more precisely her unborn child) what really happened, we would stop listening which is not necessarily true. On the other hand, we can imagine the worst easily enough. At the same time, the movie dips heavily into magic realism, as I think Konoma can really see ghosts which also represent the guilt and pain which she would not otherwise be able to process.
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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