The African child soldier drama “War Witch” won best film and its 15-year-old star earned best actress Thursday night at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Tribeca announced its winners as the 11th annual edition of the New York festival wound down.
Montreal filmmaker Kim Nguyen shot “War Witch” in the Congo, where his young lead, Rachel Mwanza, was previously living on the streets. Mwanza, who earlier won best actress at the Berlin Film Festival, plays a pregnant teenager swept up in an unspecified revolution.
“I realized quickly that she has an immense talent,” Nguyen said in an earlier interview. “When I asked her how she does it – how she bursts out in laughter, how she starts crying so normally – she just told me that she thinks of her past.”
The festival jury said “War Witch” ”balances scenes of crazy enemy hatred with moments of luminous private love.”
Best actor was given to both Dariel Arrechada and Javier Nunez Florian, who star in Lucy Mulloy’s “Una Noche.” The film is about Cuban teenagers, struggling in poverty, who decide to flee to Florida.
It’s a fiction that became reality when Nunez Florian and another actor from the film, Analin de la Rua de la Torre, disappeared in Miami en route to Tribeca from Havana. They are presumed to have defected from their native Cuba, where the film was shot.
“Una Noche” also won best cinematography for Trevor Forrest and Shlomo Godder’s photography, and Mulloy was cited as best new narrative director.
Best documentary went to Nisha Pahuja’s “The World Before Her,” a film that juxtaposes the lives of Indian girls pursuing pageant glory as Miss India with those participating in a Hindu fundamentalist movement.
The Dutch filmmaker Jeroen van Velzen, whose “Wavumba” depicts fishermen on the coast of Kenya, was named best new documentary director.
The Tribeca Film Festival concludes Sunday.