A Fine Line

A Fine Line

Oscar-nominated filmmakers Andrea Nix Fine and Sean Fine strike a balance between tragedy and beauty.

By Gerry Boyle '78 | Photos by Abbie Trayler-Smith

Patongo Primary School takes the stage to perform the Bwola dance at the National Music and Dance Competition in Kampala.
Patongo Primary School takes the stage to perform the Bwola dance at the National Music and Dance Competition in Kampala.

In 2006 Fine and the crew returned to Patongo for another six weeks of filming. They returned to Maryland, the editing work continued, and the film emerged to resounding acclaim—and occasional criticism.

Critics said that, with all the atrocity, “The people shouldn’t look beautiful,” Fine said. “They should look downtrodden and scarred. They can’t smile.

“But I wanted people to see that people from northern Uganda are beautiful. Their resilience. It’s unnerving to see how resilient these kids are. I can’t even think of the things that they went through and how they are in life. They aren’t just victims moping around.”

That is an important part of the mission of Shine Global, the film’s producer. “What is important to us is to find hope within the horror,” MacLaury said. “We don’t want to show these children as victims. We want to show them as children who are prevailing.”

In the future Sean and Andrea Nix Fine may work on another film relating to Shine Global’s mission, this one exploring the way oppressed children in various cultures survive through sports.

The Oscar nomination may lead to feature film deals, as production companies now approach the couple—rather than the other way around, Sean Fine said.

Nix Fine said Fine Films is looking forward to new directions, though future projects will be taken on with consideration for the team’s newest member. Roan, the Fines’ second child, was born in August 2007.

They’ll cope with the logistics, Nix Fine said, as they move into unknown film territory. “My favorite thing [as a filmmaker],” she said, “is that, in a way, you go to school the rest of your life.”

From Film to Scholarship Fund

The three children featured prominently in War/Dance—Dominic, Nancy, and Rose—represent thousands of other children in Ugandan refugee camps, said co-director Andrea Nix Fine ’91. “We wanted to make sure something could happen for them, too.”

Nix Fine said she and her husband, Sean Fine, have stayed in touch with children in the camp. Dominic has qualified for high school, she said, and Nancy wants to go to medical school.

“The kids are doing well, as best they can, as the war continues,” Nix Fine said.

“Sean left his cell phone there,” she said. “Dominic, the boy in the film who plays the xylophone—his brother sometimes travels outside the camp, and if he can get a charge … he just does a quick call and hangs up. It’s always in the middle of the night, like three o’clock in the morning. You see a number come across your screen that’s like twenty digits long. Then we know it’s him.”

Meanwhile, a busload of children was abducted by rebels just two days after the film crew left Patongo.

The founders of Shine Global, which produced War/Dance, plan to donate all profits from the film to the Acholi children in northern Uganda. They also suggest that viewers can donate to a scholarship fund for the children in the Patongo refugee camp. The fund is administered by AMREF USA, a nongovernmental relief organization working in northern Uganda.

For more information on War/Dance and ways to help, see shineglobal.org, fine-films.com, or www.wardancethemovie.com.

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