Somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, Komona, a 14-year-old girl, tells her unborn child growing inside her the story of her life since she has been at war. Everything started when she was abducted by the rebel army at the age of 12.
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A film crew follow a group of children that live rough on Kinshasa's streets. The children are thought of as shegues, or witches, by many adults including their families. The kids' desire is to make money and music.
Komona, a girl in Sub-Saharan Africa, tells the story to her unborn child about her kidnapping by rebels and forced to join their bloody civil war. When she discovers a valuable intuition about the presence of the enemy, she is elevated as a witch and favored by the rebel leader. However, this special status threatens to be short-lived in this world of superstition and senseless brutality even as the ghosts of the war dead haunt her visions. However, when a newfound friend convinces her to desert, Komona finds escaping that brutal life is far from easy with its physical and spiritual consequences following her wherever she goes. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I attended a screening of this film at the Toronto International Film Festival. The director was there and spoke of the tedious process of getting his film released. I am not sure when it will be open to the public but I hope it can come out in a not-so-distant future because it's definitely a must see.
Rebelle is not for everyone. It's hard to watch and may be too much for some. But what's so terrible about this film isn't what is shown. It's what isn't. The story is about a 14 year-old girl, telling her story to her unborn baby before giving birth. It spans the two years preceding the opening of the film, when the girl was abducted from her village by the rebel army and turned into a child soldier. As every step, something terrible happens. But somehow, leaving the theatre, you simply know that in real life, it may have been even more horrible.
I won't spoil anything but as you can imagine, as she lives with the rebel army, she is forced to do unspeakable things. She is somewhat protected by the leader as he believes her to be a witch. Throughout the film, she has visions of the ghosts of people killed by the rebel army, including her own parents. It doesn't seem unrealistic or made up. It makes the film just this more bearable to watch, as we're let into the mind of a child and her ways of coping with the events around her.
She befriends another kid believed to have special powers, a boy barely older than she is. As their relationship evolves, you find yourself within their own personal haven, their escape from the atrocities of the life they are forced to live. You understand why child soldiers do what they do, how a human being can be turned to commit inhumane crimes. From their adventure together, you will laugh at times and cry at others.
It's really hard to write about this film without giving away anything. All the emotions you will feel watching time come from the characters around the kids and the small things that happen to them that give them the strength to go on. The 'butcher' may be the best character in the film. His kindness to the children, his understanding of what they have been though and his acceptance of what they have become is incredibly touching.
It's a tough film. A beautiful film. A film that stays with you long after you've seen it. Most of the actors hired had never acted before but they are all fantastic. Rachel Mwanza in particular is unforgettable. I hope she goes on to have a brilliant career because she was fantastic.
If ever you have an opportunity to see Rebelle, take it. You won't regret it.
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