While Beasts of the Southern Wild and its pint-sized star Quvenzhané Wallis have been drawing notice Stateside, there's another daring feature about a young impoverished girl left to her own devices that has won praise here and abroad. War Witch premiered at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival last February. There, its young ingénue Rachel Mwanza won the Silver Berlin Bear, and the drama went on to draw acclaim as it toured the festival circuit through the fall. Then came the Academy Award nominations, where the drama won a coveted spot in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Written and directed by Kim Nguyen, War Witch centers on the story of Komona (Mwanza), a 12-year-old native of Sub-Saharan Africa. One day, her peaceful life is disrupted when rebels invade her village, slaughtering many residents and kidnapping others. Abducted and forced to join their troups, Komona builds a mystique by her very survival; they believe she is a witch. Fittingly, she forms a friendship with a fellow child soldier called Magician (Serge Kanyinda), and the two make the dangerous decision to desert. Get a peek at their journey in the trailer below, or see it in hi-res at Apple:

This was among the many enticing titles that played at the Tribeca Film Festival last year. I didn't manage to see War Witch at the time, but soon regretted missing out as it won Best Narrative Feature and Best Actress at the fest's award ceremony. Thankfully, now I'll have a second chance to see the film that has already awed critics worldwide.

War Witch will be available on iTunes on February 26th. A limited theatrical release will follow on March 1st.

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