Rebelle | War Witch
DIRECTOR: Kim Nguyen | WRITER: Kim Nguyen | CAST: Rachel Mwanza, Serge Kanyinda, Alain Lino Mic Eli Bastien, Mizinga Mwinga, Ralph Prosper | Canada
Not as harrowing as some of the documentary treatments I’ve seen about child soldiers in the endless civil wars in sub-Saharan Africa, nor told with a compellingly original or involving narrative, Rebelle comes close to feeling unnecessary except perhaps for those people who aren’t aware of what’s been happening for at least the past quarter century. Rachel Mwanza plays Komona, whose story as a kidnapped village girl forced to bear arms for an unknown cause we follow from the age of 12 to 14. Komona tells us early on that one of her strategies for survival was not to show her emotions which may indeed have saved her life, but as played by Mwanza she is so opaque that I found it difficult to feel any more deeply about her plight than anyone else’s. Two of the non-professional cast did stand out: Serge Kanyinda as Magicien, Komona’s fellow child soldier and later husband, and Ralph Prosper as Magicien’s uncle, a man with his own tragic history at the hands of the rebels. Rebelle is episodic and the directing is often clumsy and amateurish, but the film is what it is and if it brings more attention to these horrors it’s done its job.