UGPulse Reviews War Dance
War Dance.

UGPulse Reviews War Dance


Another movie made in Uganda to get an Oscar?
War Dance - Click here for movie's Website

By UGPulse
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First published: November 19, 2007

US Release Date: November 9th, 2007 (limited)
In Theatres

Trailer:

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Director: Andrea Nix, Sean Fine

Main Cast: Patongo Primary School Students Dominic, Rose and Nancy

Genre: Documentary, Reality

Plot:

It is 2005 and Patongo Primary School looks like any other school in any remote village in Uganda. The children run around bare foot, they study in crowded classrooms... But Patongo is in Northern Uganda and a high percentage of its students come from camps which many Acholi families have been forced into to be protected from the Lord's Resistance army.

Images from War Dance
Images from War Dance.

The movie War Dance, follows the lives of three children from the school. There is tough Dominic, who wants to show Uganda that he is the best xylophonist in Uganda. He is a former child soldier and is haunted by a secret he has not even told his mother. Then there is Rose who is clearly mentally withdrawn and is self cautious. She longs to be known for something other than the horrific images than keep playing in her mind. Third is fourteen-year-old Nancy. With her father murdered and mother abducted she had to take off and become a parent to her younger siblings.

Rose
Rose
Rose.

Dominic
Dominic
Dominic.

Nancy
Nancy
Nancy.

It is not clear in the movie if Dominic, Rose or Nancy even know each other. What brings them together is that Patongo is getting ready for a national music competition in Uganda's capital, Kampala- the first time a Northern Ugandan school will attend the competition. They have heard so much about Kampala and are looking forward to see what Peace looks like. They are also well aware of their tarnished image as child murderers and so on, and are so eager to show Uganda that they are much more than that. They take their mission to Kampala seriously and know that they head out to Kampala as representatives of the Acholi people and are determined to bring the championship cup home.

Review:

Loved it!! From the very beginning the movie is very haunting. The movie will have you in tears within the first ten minutes and shortly there after make you laugh. I find it very hard to call this a documentary ... it was a regular real good movie... But I guess what else do you call a movie that uses real actors and captures their unscripted moments in life to package them into a movie.

The first thing I like in the movie is that it is 50% or more in Acholi... so be prepared to do some reading. This is when I wish I was from Acholi. I can only imagine how the Acholi will feel when watching a movie done in their language. This is definitely something to be proud of... which brings be to the second reason why I like this movie.

With all the horror that the movie is about there are so many subtle messages of hope. The sad thing is that most people in the West or even those people of Western origin in Africa may miss these subtle messages. They will simply be distracted by the horrific stories of the children at Patongo and may be happy that they have this music competition to take their mind off of things. Some may even look at the movie as simply exploiting the Acholi and Africans in general.

For me I got a little more of that. Seeing the rich Acholi culture in the movie made me really appreciate and respect the Acholi at a new level. The strength of these children and the perseverance they showed made me feel that not all hope is lost. With all the focus Northern Uganda is getting, once peace is attained, I am certain that many good things will come out of this part of Uganda. The constant comparisons and references to nearby Kampala... the pride that both Acholi children and adults had in their culture... their wanting to show the rest of Uganda(not necessarily the rest of the world) that there is something more to them than just war and child abductions... all made me feel a sence of hope regardless of the horrific stories Dominic, Rose and Nancy were telling.

Dominic wants to show Ugandans that he is the best xylophonist is Uganda

Dominic wants to show Ugandans that he is the best xylophonist is Uganda
Dominic wants to show Ugandans that he is the best xylophonist is Uganda.

Patongo arrives in Kampala. Dominic- We are going to show them that we are giants.
Patongo arrives in Kampala.
Dominic- We are going to show them that we are giants.

I also loved the use of imagery in the movie. The children's flashbacks somehow reminded me of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ- in terms of the rich art and use of slow motion...etc. Maybe that is just me. Of course the colors of the Acholi war dance are very effective.

Patongo Primary School competes in Kampala.
Patongo Primary School competes in Kampala.

Patongo Primary School competes in Kampala.
Patongo Primary School competes in Kampala.

I can't really suggest any thing to be done differently in this movie. While some may not understand the need for this movie, I feel that this movie serves the people of Northen Uganda well... with encouragement and respect. I'm looking forward to learning more about where Rose, Nancy and Dominic are now- two years after this film was shot.

UGPulse Rating:

The Awards.
The Awards.

Marketing Stunts:
None... I found out about the movie opening in Washington, DC via email...

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By UGPulse
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First published: November 19, 2007
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