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Rebelle by Concordia grad nominated for Oscar

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By: Scott McCulloch

Rebelle, directed by Concordia film production graduate Kim Nguyen, is up for an Oscar.

The film, also written by Nguyen, BFA 97, has been nominated for a best foreign-language film accolade at the 85th Academy Awards.

The Academy Awards take place February 24.

Kim-Nguyen1crop.jpgIn December, Nguyen told reporters via a conference call that he was overwhelmed by the reception his film has received.

Montreal-born Nguyen said he trusted his instincts in shooting the film in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo.

Communications Studies alumnus Pierre Even, GrDip 90, produced the 90-minute drama, which will square off against Austria's Amour, Norway's Kon-Tiki, Chile's No and Denmark's A Royal Affair.

Nguyen and Even worked alongside former film production student Nicolas Bolduc, attendee 94, cinematographer for the feature.

Rebelle is the third Canadian-made movie in a row to impress the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In 2011, Monsieur Lazhar was nominated yet the award went to A Separation from Iran. In 2010, Incendies was nominated and lost to Denmark's In a Better World.

Fellow Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema graduate André Turpin, BFA 89, worked as cinematographer on the critically acclaimed Incendies.

Rebelle -- War Witch in English -- is a poignant film with an exceptional lead performance by Rachel Mwanza, a newcomer discovered on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The film tells the story of Komona (Mwanza), a 12 year-old girl who is kidnapped by African rebels, forced at gunpoint to kill her parents and fight as a child soldier.

Due to her ability to see grey ghosts in the trees that warn her of approaching enemies, she is deemed a sorceress and bestowed the title of War Witch by the supreme leader of the rebels, Great Tiger.


Rebelle premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2012, where Nguyen was the first Canadian director in 13 years to have a film selected for the main competition.

Mwanza earned the best actress Silver Bear. She also won Best Actress, along with the Best Narrative Film prize for the movie, at the Tribeca film festival in New York City in April.

Rebelle is Nguyen's fourth feature film. He started it 10 years ago after reading about two Burmese twin brothers who, at age nine, led an army of rebels in a fight against the government.

His research, which included travelling to Burundi to interview child soldiers, led him to focus on conflicts in Angola, Sierra Leone and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Images credits: Kim Nguyen, scene from Rebelle. Courtesy of Métropole Films Distribution.

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