If you're a director but not part of the Hollywood establishment, one of the most coveted trophies at the Academy Awards is Best Foreign Language Film.
Well, Canada has announced its pick for the foreign-language category. It's Rebelle (aka War Witch), a French language film directed by Kim Nguyen.
TIFF describes Rebelle as "an extraordinary portrait of survival." The film stars newcomer Rachel Mwanza, who plays a 14-year-old girl named Komona.
Komona is kidnapped by a rebel army and forced to shoot her parents before being taken into the jungle, where she's forced to become a child soldier. For the next several months, she is beaten, taught to fire an AK-47, and become a sex slave for a rebel commander.
Eventually, Komona escapes with another soldier named Magicien (Serge Kanyinda) and they fall in love, only to be recaptured by the rebels. Soon, Komona becomes pregnant and struggles to find any hope in life.
Mwanza's portrayal of Komona won her the Best Actress Prize at the Berlin Film Festival.
Nguyen, from Montreal, spent ten years working on this film and based his script on the stories of actual child soldiers. He shot it entirely on location in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with mostly inexperienced and untrained actors.
In a statement, he said "After 10 years in development and a production marked by many adventures that have provided me with everlasting memories of the Congo and its people, this recognition warms my heart."
"It was truly a team effort and this recognition is sincerely shared with everyone who worked on this film, from the writing, to the creation and production, as well as with all our financial partners who believed in us despite the risks."
TIFF calls the film "heartfelt" and a story of "formidable courage and unquenchable hope."
Telefilm Canada says it's confident the film "will win over the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences."
Canadian films have made the final Oscar short list the past two years - Philippe Falardeau's 'Monsieur Lazhar' last year and Denis Villeneuve's 'Incendies' in 2010.
The Academy will announce a full list of eligible submissions next month. Nine finalists will be shortlisted in mid-January, with the final five nominees announced on January 24th of next year.
The Oscars will be handed out on February 24th.
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