The heartbreaking realities faced by child soldiers are being explored in two new Canadian movies: one a fiction feature and the other a documentary.

Alain Bastien portrays a merciless rebel commander in Quebec director Kim Nguyen's drama Rebelle (War Witch), which earned kudos at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, just screened at the Toronto International Film Festival and opens in select theatres across English Canada beginning Friday. Rebelle was also chosen this week to be Canada's official submission for Oscar consideration.

"This might be a movie, but it's a movie based on a true story," Bastien told CBC News.

"We're basically the voice of those kids [who] are caught up within that world that many people around the world don't know exists."

Meanwhile Senator and retired General  Roméo Dallaire was in Toronto during the film festival to discuss the in-progress documentary adaptation of his book They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children. The doc is being directed by Patrick Reed. 

A movie can be "an incredible weapon of getting messages and information to ultimately as much of the public as possible," Dallaire said.