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Oscar-Nominated ‘War Witch’ is applauded by The Africa Channel for keeping Africa authentic

February 24, 2013

If The Africa Channel viewers plan on tuning in to this year’s broadcast of the Academy Awards, they’ll see that five pictures are nominated for “Best Foreign Language Film of the Year,” including Canada’s submission, War Witch.  By shooting the film primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo, director Kim Nguyen was able to achieve the authenticity that he was after.

The script was written mostly in the local Lingala language, despite its being strange and hard to understand, according to Nguyen.  The director relied on improvisation to guide his Lingala-speaking actors through their scenes.

In a Film Journal International article, Nguyen says he looked to other exotic aspects of the DRC “that would enrich the film’s story and look, and maybe counter some of the horror and suffering on view.”  He incorporated the region’s beliefs in the supernatural, including witches both good and bad.

War Witch tells the story of Komona, a girl living in the Congo who is kidnapped by rebels and forced to fight in their civil war.  Sixteen-year old starlet Rachel Mwanza, the Congolese-born actress who leads the film as Komona, has made an amazing journey from abandonment by her family and life on the streets as a child, to being named Best Actress at the Berlin and Tribeca Film Festivals for her role on the big screen.

That journey will continue to the red carpet on Oscar night and the opportunity to see her film win a golden statue.  According to the BBC, the young actress was granted a visa in order to attend the Academy Awards just days before the big event.

Look for an upcoming post-Oscar update on about Rachel’s journey to the Oscars and the film shot in Africa that gave her the opportunity. The list of Oscar hopefuls competing against War Witch are Amour (Austria), Kon-Tiki (Norway), No (Chile), and A Royal Affair (Denmark).


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