Taking inspiration from filmmakers as diverse as Claire Denis and Francis Ford Coppola, French-Canadian director Kim Nguyen has fashioned a mesmerising, dreamlike fable about a young girl’s adolescence in the face of annihilation. When rebel militias attack her village, Komona (Rachel Mwanza) is forced to murder her own parents and become a child soldier. But when she begins to have nightmare visions of ghosts in the jungle, Komona becomes a War Witch, an omen of luck for tribal leader Grand Tigre.
Steering clear of worthy save-the-children breast-beating, Nguyen has crafted a lush, terrifying odyssey film in the tradition of Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse Now’ and Denis’s ‘Beau Travail’, films which reflect the grand beauty of conflict without ever losing sight of the horror at its core. The plot has a tendency to ramble – we don’t always know quite where we are in the story – but overall, this is a heady, entrancing film, fully deserving of its Foreign Language Oscar nomination.