I Am Not a Witch
This tragic satire concerned with a community of exploited women marks director Rungano Nyoni out as an exciting new filmmaking talent
Zambia-born Welsh director Rungano Nyoni thoroughly impresses with her assured and original debut feature I Am Not a Witch, an elegant folk-tale of a film that understandably dazzled at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Nyoni grounds her tale in the weighty gaze of Shula, the orphaned young girl at the film’s centre, played by newcomer Margaret Mulubwa, who delivers a stunningly poised performance. Shula is accused of being a witch and is abruptly cast off to a ‘witch’ camp comprised largely – if unsurprisingly – of older women exploited for their labour. There our young hero finally finds community and acceptance, but she also finds herself vulnerable to the greed and prejudices of authority figures, like the camp’s supervisor (Tembo), an opportunistic Sembènian villain. What follows is a gracefully rendered portrait of a brave little life.
The comfortably ambiguous narrative foregoes moralising and easy answers, particularly at its conclusion, and instead plunges viewers into ultimately tragic satire tinged with humour and brimming with striking imagery. With such a masterful, haunting debut, Nyoni distinguishes herself as a director to watch.
Released by Curzon Artificial Eye