Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

War Witch on Oscar short list

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BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Montreal-born Kim Nguyen was "ecstatic" Friday after learning that his war-torn drama Rebelle is one step closer to an Oscar nomination.

The film -- called War Witch in English -- made a nine film short list announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

"I'm just in a surreal mode right now realizing that I'm on the list with such great filmmakers as Michael Haneke (who directed the shortlisted Austrian film Amour," Nguyen said during a conference call with journalists.

"It's been a really amazing ride for the last year, travelling to almost three countries a month (to screen and promote the movie), just recently going around the world from India to L.A. to Montreal."

The final five nominees will be announced Jan. 10.

"Rebelle" is a grim drama about the lives of child soldiers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nguyen penned the story over the course of a decade, inspired by an article about nine-year-old Burmese twin brothers who led an army of rebels.

He shot it in Congo with a cast that included several local first-time actors, including then 14-year-old Rachel Mwanza, who plays a young female soldier who is forced into becoming a sex slave for a rebel commander. Her performance won prizes at the Tribeca and Berlin film festivals.

The Oscars, to be hosted by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, take place Feb. 24.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 24, 2012 D2

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