War Witch, a Canadian-made film about a young girl who escapes from the African rebels who forced her to be a child soldier, has been named Best Narrative Feature at the 11th annual Tribeca Film Festival (2012).

“This indelible character study of a girl who becomes a woman before our eyes in the midst of harrowing war gives words to the unspeakable,” said the jury, which included Patricia Clarkson, Dakota Fanning, Mike Newell, EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum, Jim Sheridan, and Irwin Winkler.

“Riveting, heartbreaking, vivid, and eloquent, the movie balances scenes of crazy enemy hatred with moments of luminous private love.”

Rachel Mwanza, who played the 14-year-old Komona in War Witch, directed by Kim Nguyen, also won for Best Actress.

“A nonprofessional actress, this remarkable young woman — barely a teenager when the movie was shot — so fully inhabits her role that there are no borders to her stunning performance, no distance at all between the actress and the unforgettable character Komona,” declared the jury.

Mwanza, a 15-year-old from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a non-professsional actress and French-language film Rebelle (“War Witch”) was her first film role.

Written and directed by Canadian filmmaker Kim Nguyen, War Witch is narrated by the pregnant 14-year-old Komona as she tells her unborn child the stories of her life since she was captured by a rebel army at the age of 12.

Reviewers are calling it a “harrowing” and “haunting” story which combines fantasy with documentary-like filming techniques.

“It is the “dreamy, fairy-tale quality that meshes surprisingly well with the more violent aspects of this tale that sets the film apart”, one critic writes.

A must-see.

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