War Dance

Directors: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine. 2007. English (subtitles). Documentary / Black Cinema.
War Dance

Recent attention to the children's situation in war-torn Uganda has been spoken about in art events and documentaries such as Invisible Children, and there's a reason for that – international events, especially in Africa, are becoming more and more cared for as history school books fail to cover these contemporary aspects of our global issues.

War Dance, Sean and Andrea Fine's documentary about children competing in the Kampala Music Festival, has been received ambivalent critical review. New York Times' Stephen Holden sums up the conflict:  the film "is so gorgeous that its beauty distracts from the anguish it reveals… in spite of its slickness, is an honorable, sometimes inspiring exploration of the primal healing power of music and dance in an African tribal culture."

The film begins focusing on each child's personal story – Nancy, Dominic, and Rose – from the loss of parents and family members to their arrival in the refugee camp Patongo. From there, the film moves on to their journey together in the camp, where they prepare to participate in the Kampala music competition. They are against bias, coming from their refugee camp which is under the military protection of a terrorist group called Lord's Resistance Army. They are against their own tragedies. They are against a bleak future. Yet the film shows them determined, fighting and dancing for their love of music and for the honor of their own culture.

Does it matter how beautiful the film was visually? Should it have been grittier, shot with a more neutral eye? I declare, Africa's natural beauty deserves to shine, and it brings out the point of the film – beauty within the darkness of violence. Finally, you ask, did I cry? And yes, I cried, in the realization of our world's injustices and capacity of the human spirit.

More info on the documentary can be found at www.shineglobal.org.


War Dance was nominated for an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

Posted by:
Tiffany Huang
Sep 13, 2008 2:51pm
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