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‘Witch’ casts spell on Canada

Nguyen's pic joins race for foreign-lingo Oscar

TORONTO — Montreal helmer Kim Nguyen’s “War Witch” is Canada’s foreign language Oscar candidate it was announced Tuesday by Telefilm Canada, which chairs the pan-Canadian selection committee.

The 90-minute French and Lingala-language pic was shot in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and follows a 14-year-old girl who tells her unborn child the story of how she became a child soldier.

Star Rachel Mwanza won the Silver Bear for best actress at the Berlin Film Festival, where the film had its world-preem and also nabbed a Special Mention from the Ecumenical Jury. It also nabbed prizes for narrative feature and actress at the Tribeca Film Festival.

“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,” said Nguyen in a statement.

“War Witch” was backed by the Canada Feature Film Fund and produced by Pierre Even and Marie-Claude Poulin of Montreal production company Item 7.

Mongrel Media opens the film in Toronto on Friday; Metropole opened the film in Quebec earlier this year. Tribeca Films has U.S. rights.

“We are proud that Kim Nguyen’s ‘War Witch,’ which has been sold in more than 25 territories, is representing Canada and we are confident that it will win over the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences,” said Telefilm executive director Carolle Brabant in a statement.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will announce the five nominees for best foreign film on Jan. 15. The 85th Academy Awards ceremony takes place Feb. 24.

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