For the past twenty years, northern Uganda has been at war with a rebel force, the Lord's Resistance Army (L.R.A), and the country's children have been the greatest victims of the conflict. But here, the children are not only the victims of the rebels, they are the rebels. The L.R.A has a chillingly effective process to fill its ranks - abducting innocent children. Under the cover of darkness, the rebels raid villages to kidnap new soldiers. Children - some as young as five - are ripped from their beds in front of their helpless parents. Once abducted, the children are forced at gunpoint to viciously beat or kill neighbors, and sometimes even their own parents. The boys become soldiers while the girls are forced into sexual slavery.
After two decades, there is little sign of peace on the horizon. But amidst the grief and violence, voices are heard - children's voices - singing strong, without fear. Their bodies shake and stomp to the rhythms of their ancestors. They dance about their homeland, they dance about their future, they dance to be children...and they dance to win. Across the country, Ugandan children are getting ready for the biggest even of the year, the National Music Competition. Over 20,000 schools will compete, but only one will go home the champion, and no one expects it to be Patongo. Schools in refugee camps don't win awards.
WAR/DANCE follows the courageous efforts of Patongo's students as they pour their hearts into winning this years' music competition. The war has stolen their homes, their parents, and their childhood. Patongo's refugee camp packs 60,000 people into its endless squalor. There is no electricity, no running water, and no safe place. The bullet holes in the school walls tell the stories the children would rather forget. Two years ago, the L.R.A. dragged 29 students from Patongo's schoolhouse to "join" the army.