Rebelle, directed by Concordia graduate Kim Nguyen, took home 10 Canadian Screen Awards during a gala held in Toronto on March 3.
The Oscar-nominated film, also written by Nguyen, BFA (Film Production) 97, was nominated for 12 awards and won in categories that include best film, best director and best screenplay. Its teenage star, Rachel Mwanza, also won for best actress.
"I'm very touched," said Nguyen as he collected the best director prize. I'd like to dedicate this to the women in the Congo, their strength, their courage and their resilience."
In 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.
Alumnus Richard Comeau, BFA (Film Production) 87, also won an award for achievement in editing for the Rebelle film.
Alumnus Pierre Even, GrDip (Communication Studies) 90, produced the 90-minute drama. He and Nguyen worked alongside Nicolas Bolduc attendee (Film Production) 94 who was cinematographer for the feature.
Rebelle, War Witch in English, is a poignant film with an exceptional lead performance by Mwanza, a newcomer discovered on the streets of Kinshasa, the capital and largest city of the Democratic Republic of the 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 award. She also won Best Actress prize for the movie at the Tribeca film festival in New York City in April, along with the Best Narrative Film prize.
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.
Next up on the awards circuit for Rebelle is the Jutra Awards, where the film has been nominated in nine categories. The Jutra Awards, which recognize accomplishment in Quebec's film industry, will be broadcast live on Sunday, March 17 at 7:30 p.m.
• “Rebelle by Concordia grad nominated for Oscar” — NOW, January 10, 2013
• “Quebec's C.R.A.Z.Y. film business” — NOW, March 28, 2012