Feature

War/Dance

Ugandan children turn to music and dance.

War/Dance
Directed by Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine (PG-13)

Ugandan children turn to music and dance.

**

An arresting documentary about Ugandan children who find release in a dance contest, War/Dance takes war too lightly and dance too seriously, said S. James Snyder in The New York Sun. In their directorial debut, husband-wife team Sean and Andrea Nix Fine spotlight three children from the Patongo refugee camp: Rose, a 13-year-old singer who watched as rebels murdered her parents; Dominic, a 14-year-old former child solider who plays the xylophone; and Nancy, a 14-year-old dancer who raised her siblings after her father was killed and her mother abducted. “Formally rigid and carefully choreographed,” War/Dance captures the children’s anguish and joy as they prepare for the national music competition in Kampala. The film’s luster and stylized feel, however, make it seem less like a documentary than an advertisement, said John Anderson in Variety. “The young black faces are too beautiful, the landscapes too pretty, and the personal stories of slaughter too scripted.” War/Dance’s real purpose is to get audiences to pay attention to African warfare, said Andrew O’Hehr in Salon.com. The film, which received accolades at Sundance, doesn’t discount atrocities but instead explores music and dance’s healing power within African culture. These children’s experiences become “the back story to a narrative of triumph,” in which they star as survivors rather than victims.

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