Canada's War Witch earns Spirit Award nomination

War Witch, a film about a child soldier in an unnamed African country created by Montreal director Kim Nguyen, has earned a nomination for best international film at the U.S.-based Spirit Awards.

Directed in the Congo by Montreal's Kim Nguyen

War Witch is in the running for best foreign language film at the Spirit Awards, a celebration of independent filmmaking. (TIFF)

War Witch, Montreal director Kim Nguyen's drama about a child soldier in an unnamed African country, has earned a nomination for best international film at the U.S. Spirit Awards.

War Witch (also known by its French title Rebelle) stars Rachel Mwanza, a young actress Nguyen recruited in the Congo, as a child stolen from her village. She is forced to kill her parents and then idolized by other child soldiers because of the visions she sees in the jungle.

The Spirit Awards celebrate films created by independent producers and are presented at a ceremony in Santa Monica, Calif., the day before the Academy Awards. The awards are administered by Film Independent, which also created the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Oddball romances Silver Linings Playbook and Moonrise Kingdom lead the nominations with five apiece.

Silver Linings Playbook, about a man with mental health issues and his relationship with a young widow, earned nominations for its lead characters, played by Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

The nominations for Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson’s adventure tale about a boy and girl who escape from a summer camp together, include best director as well as best screenplay.

Nominees in selected categories include:

Best picture:

Best documentary:

  • How to Survive a Plague, directed by David France.
  • Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, directed by Matthew Akers.
  • The Central Park Five, director-producers Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon.
  • The Invisible War, directed by Kirby Dick.
  • The Waiting Room, directed by Peter Nicks.

Best international film:

  • Amour, directed by Michael Haneke.
  • Once Upon A Time in Anatolia, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
  • Rust And Bone, directed by Jacques Audiard.
  • Sister, directed by Ursula Meier.
  • War Witch, directed by Kim Nguyen.

War Witch was also chosen earlier this year as Canada’s submission for foreign-language Oscar consideration. It has been widely praised on the international circuit: it won best actress and best narrative film awards at the Tribeca Film Festival and a Silver Bear for best actress as well as an ecumenical prize at the Berlin Film Festival.

The Spirit Awards ceremony takes place on Feb. 23.