TIFF 53 COVERAGE: REBELLE (WAR WITCH) – KIM NGUYEN (ENG)
For desistfilm: Mónica Delgado
Congo is the setting for an almost symbolic or archetypal African war, fueled by power and liberation and the law of the strongest, armed rebels; no institutionalism and the absence of authority. The world of Kim Nyguyen’s Rebelle doesn’t escape the topics that the eighties action films introduced, specifically about the African “reality” of armed struggles, internal wars, violence and death, and defining the law of the jungle. But in this film he adds an extra quota, the recruiting of minors for war training. It is in this context that Rebelle (Canada, 2012) offers a look inside a guerrilla group through the eyes of Komona (Rachel Mwanza), a pubescent girl who is kidnapped and forced to be part of this school of horror and death.
The camera in Rebelle focuses on Komona, over three years, through her unanswered questions, her conversion to a witch where she is given powers of prediction due to the effects of hallucinogenic plants, and inside the ghetto of the Great Tiger rebels, where there is no chance of escape. She is offered as cannon fodder for different struggles in the middle of the jungle. In this rebel group who recruit minors from the nearby communities and leave no one alive, Kim Nguyen describes the training, the initiation rituals and the cult of arms as power mechanisms. The cause and reason of their fight is uncertain. The enemy, talked about as “the government”, is rarely mentioned, a presence that hardly appears.
In this search for naturalism, or the quasi-documentary look, Nguyen rescues a particular physiognomy of this part of Africa, showing marriage rites, patriarchal rites, games in albino colonies and the ritual making of oil, amongst other things. This is circumscribed in a new setting, the ambience of the opposition of violence: sequences of a love affair between Komona and her friend, Magician (a fifteen year old albino). As soon as the quota of “marvelous realism” becomes clearer, the film loses its power, a power that until then had opted to offer a raw look from within a group of rebels without mystique or determined means.
Direction: Kim Nguyen
Screenplay: Kim Nguyen