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I Am Not A Witch

Rungano Nyoni

This arresting first feature from Zambian-born, Wales-raised Rungano Nyoni is unlike any British film you might have seen before and marks the exciting debut of a new voice in contemporary filmmaking. Exploring the fine line between tradition and superstition, folklore and exploitation, I Am Not a Witch defies categorisation.

"Exploring the fine line between tradition and superstition..."

The story begins as 9-year-old Shula (an assured Margaret Mulubwa), an outsider to her Zambian village, startles a woman walking home, inadvertently causing her to drop the bucket of water she is carrying. Feeling responsible, Shula dutifully refills the bucket and leaves it on the step of the woman’s hut. But the village elders nevertheless turn on Shula and denounce her as a witch. Taken away by Mr Banda (Henri Phiri) to a travelling witch camp, the little girl soon begins to believe what is being said about her. Although she encounters some kindness amongst the older women, Shula is also subjected to great cruelty, and is exploited for profit by those in power in the community.

Shot in and around Zambia’s capital city Lusaka, the film is a striking visual combination of realism and fantasy. While the script has a sombre story to tell, there are also moments of humour, delivered in deadpan style by the mostly nonprofessional cast. But at its heart is a fierce little girl desperately trying to find a connection with those around her and survive.