Film

War Witch: More Africans Shooting Machine Guns

War Witch: More Africans Shooting Machine Guns

WAR WITCH This photo screams out for a Smurf joke, but it’s a movie about genocide.

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Recall these lines, which are spoken by four young Africans in the video "African Men, Hollywood Stereotypes": "[Africans love to shoot machine guns.] We shoot our machine guns from trucks. We shoot our machine guns from boats. When we run out of bullets, we shoot rocket launchers... We hate smiling; smiling is stupid. And one thing is for sure: A day without war is a day not worth living." Those who are already convinced that black Africans are a violent race of humans will not be surprised by what they see in War Witch, a film that Canada submitted for the Academy Award's best foreign language film in 2013. According to CBC News, the film also "swept away nearly all competition at the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards." Why? Because it is brilliantly edited, scored, and photographed—and it is exactly the kind of film about Africa that makes the most sense to Westerners.

War Witch has violent child soldiers who murder their parents, take drugs, and live in the jungle. It has machetes—a film about Africa would be incomplete without human-chopping machetes. There is the tropic-addled general who believes a young girl has magical powers that can protect him from government troops (Africans are so superstitious). There is even a scene of a witch doctor throwing bones on the ground and barking crazy things out of his baboon-sized mouth. In another scene, the witch doctor blesses machine guns. Yes, this film has lots and lots of Africans shooting machine guns: shooting them from trucks, shooting them from behind rocks, shooting them into the sky, shooting them for any fucking reason. A fly lands on your nose? Shoot the machine gun.

Despite all of this, the film is brilliantly executed. The director, Kim Nguyen, is clearly a talented filmmaker, but enough (seriously, enough!) of these kinds of films. Africa has so many other stories to tell. recommended

 

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1
Charles, did you by any chance see Viva Riva! a couple of years ago? It was a well-made, high-production-value piece of pulp that claimed to be the first feature film professionally made in Congo-Kinshasa since Mobutu seized power decades earlier.

Like War Witch, it featured many Africans shooting machine guns. Unlike War Witch, it was made by a resident national of the country in which it was filmed and set. Also unlike War Witch, it was a gleeful, amoral orgy of violence and vice, of pandemic greed and corruption. As watchable as Riva! was, it became hard to accept as an optimistic new start a film in which literally every character winds up dead.

In the Q&A, I asked the director what motivated him to choose this story as the very first the revived Kinshasa film industry would tell. He responded, with admirable candor, that he wanted his film to get seen at home, and that this was the film he knew he could get the Congolese public to see.

Sadly, it seems that Westerners aren’t the only ones for whom ultra-violent Africans make all too much sense.
Posted by d.p. on March 14, 2013 at 11:03 AM · Report this
Charles Mudede 2
viva riva was a crime film. the hero stole gas, sold it on the black market, and instead of splitting town with the money, recklessly spent it on booze and women. his treachery soon catches up with his stupidity. the violence in riva does not come out of nowhere, and that makes a huge difference.
Posted by Charles Mudede on March 14, 2013 at 1:58 PM · Report this
3
The violence hardly comes out of nowhere in a film about child soldiers, either.

Like you, I wish that more stories were told about non-violent things happening on the African continent. But the point remains that the urge to tell violent African stories is hardly the exclusive province of interloping Westerners.
Posted by d.p. on March 14, 2013 at 10:37 PM · Report this
4
The film "The First Grader" was an amazingly inspiring film, set in Kenya in 2006 just after public schools were made free to everyone. A positive film worth watching.
Posted by Michael Chitwood on March 29, 2013 at 6:29 PM · Report this
5
I just saw "War Witch". I didn't see anyone with a "Baboon sized mouth". A little internalized racism there Charles? The only people who would refer to an African's mouth with the word "baboon", have either internalized some major shame issues about their own African facial features, or is a racist. So which is it Charles? Has anyone ever targeted you behind the size of your lips? Your turning around and spewing your internalized racism, your shame on to others pretty much makes you just as stereotypical as Hollywood.

And NO, "smiling" is not "stupid". Our internalization of Christian sexism to the extent that any male who smiles, or "Cheeses" in Urban Black America seen as a "punk" is sad. And physiologically oppressive. Anyway, enough about you....

True, many people will see this as an excuse to validate their racist beliefs that Africans are all about violence. Mostly people in denial about the West's blood lust ranging from "Manifest destiny", to oil greed, to the religiously feed adult male entitlement violence that is eating this country from inside out. Lets no forget "shock and awe", and USA drone bombings in Africa and the Middle East.

This movie is about the way men feed children into our war machines. Adult on child violence. And only the ignorant believe "Child Soldiers" are limited to Africa. In parts of colonialized Africa, Asia, North America, Latin American & Canada, (they're called gang bangers here in North America) male violence is as common as murdered pregnant women, murdered school children, and murdered Native women in all three continents.

This movie is about an international issue - male violence.

MEN! Put down your guns, and start teaching your sons not to kill.

Posted by Armede on April 17, 2013 at 12:20 AM · Report this

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