Shocking and heartbreaking but never exploitative, Canadian director Kim Nguyen’s Oscar-nominated film
examines violence (in this case, in an unnamed sub-Saharan region) by focusing on two lost children bonding. The narrative is framed by Komona (Rachel Mwanza) as she tells her unborn child about being torn from her village by rebels and forced to kill at age 12, and her eventual status as a tortured “war witch” who can see the ghosts of the fallen on the jungle battlefield. It’s a heavy subject, and kudos to Nguyen for bringing such horrors to the screen without cheapening them for shock value. But it’s the emergent romance, tragedy and melancholy that set War Witch
above the typical Third World war film. It takes on the bleakest of subjects, ghosts and all, but somehow manages to bring hope to the front lines.