Adjectives I've been hearing from goers exiting recent films nuzzle in the rubric of Wonderful, Hilarious, and Inspiring. There's been a tangible tone to our program of late, and I'd never say there's anything wrong with that. One of cinema's great animating qualities is the swift kick it gives to our own life and the way we think about its keister while also entertaining us. But it's easy to forget the other side of the scale.
Rebelle (AKA War Witch) is Canada's submission to the Oscar's Best Foreign Language category. Here's the plot as laid out by director Kim Nguyen: "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. For two years she was forced to carry an AK 47 and kill people. Her only respite comes from her 15-year-old friend, a boy called Magician, who helps her and listens to her. As they experience the horrors and daily grind of war, Komona and Magician fall in love."
Worth highlighting here is "the daily grind of war" and "Komona and Magician fall in love." Our Western narrative of strife, at its most egregious, tends to be a 10 on an amp knob that goes to 11 and beyond. War and its attendant atrocity aren't subjects anyone should have to dwell on daily, but no one promised us (and if they did, they were lying) that the human experience would be kind. We've had a lot of lightheartedness at the Cinema this summer, and while Rebelle might be light on lightness, there's no paucity of heart. And, if we're being honest and a squidge maudlin, film--and any old art--is at its best and most invaluable when it's recalibrating our day-to-day understanding of what life's essentials really seriously are.
If you've been enjoying the films that we've lately had on our schedule, we hope you won't shy away from Rebelle. You might not leave feeling optimistic about the world and what we do to it sometimes, but hopefully you'll leave feeling optimistic about the capacity for goodness in said world.