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A Reason to Dance Amid Death in 'War/Dance'

A truck, overflowing with orphaned children, bounces along a red dirt road. They are beaming. The new documentary War/Dance explains why.

Consigned for much of their young lives to a refugee camp in Northern Uganda, these kids are headed for the bright lights of the country's capital, and its prestigious National Music Competition.

Against all odds, the refugee camp's primary school has qualified. It's a first for a region in Uganda that for years has been the victim of a vicious, cult-like rebel group called the Lord's Resistance Army.

Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine made War/Dance. They focused on three adolescent musicians who embodied all the ways a child could suffer in this war.

Rose is an orphan whose aunt now uses her as her servant. Nancy's father was hacked to death by the rebels. And Dominic was a child soldier who escaped and spends his days playing the xylophone. All three get caught up in the excitement swirling around the National Music Competition — a competition that brings hope and brightens this bleakest of places.

The directors recently sat down with Renee Montagne to describe the horrific conditions in Northern Uganda, discuss the process by which they found the film's individual subjects, and address the way the children find not only escape, but also dignity and pride.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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