War Dance centres on three children – Nancy, a 13-year-old choir singer; Rose, a 14-year-old dancer; and Dominic, a 14-year-old xylophone player. They are members of the Acholi ethnic group, living in the remote northern Uganda refugee camp of Patongo, which is under military protection from the Lord’s Resistance Army, a dissident group that has been rebelling against the government for the past two decades.
In 2005, the camp’s primary school won its regional music competition and headed to Kampala to participate in the annual National Music Competition. War Dance focuses on three of the eight categories: Western choral performance, instrumental music, and traditional dance, where the students perform the Bwola, the dance of the Acholi.
Over the course of three months, the film’s creative team observes the three youngsters as they prepare for the event and gain their confidence enough to have them discuss the horrors they have experienced and express their individual fears, hopes, and dreams.