Screened as part of NZIFF 2017

I Am Not a Witch 2017

Directed by Rungano Nyoni

Set in Zambia, the birthplace of writer-director Rungano Nyoni, this strange, engrossing feature addresses the continuing marginalisation of ‘witches’ and revolves around a nine-year-old girl accused of witchcraft.

UK / Zambia In Bemba, English, Nyanja and Tonga with English subtitles
95 minutes DCP

Director/Screenplay

Producers

Emily Morgan
,
Juliette Grandmont

Photography

David Gallego

Editors

George Cragg
,
Yann Dedet
,
Thibault Hague

Production designer

Nathan Parker

Costume designer

Holly Rebecca

Music

Matthew James Kelly

With

Margaret Mulubwa (Shula)
,
Henry B.J. Phiri (Mr Banda)
,
Nancy Murilo (Charity)
,
John Tembo (Tembo)

Festivals

Cannes (Directors’ Fortnight) 2017

Elsewhere

In Zambian-born, Welsh-raised director Rungano Nyoni’s surreal tale, a nine-year-old village girl is accused of witchcraft and hauled off to do witch’s work. Her only transgression has been her lack of affect, but soon she’s identifying the culprit in a line-up of suspects, bringing on the rain, or, when there’s nothing more profitable available, posing for tourists. Though accusing someone of witchcraft is illegal in Zambia, Nyoni’s tale is based on continuing practices she observed herself, living for a month in a witch’s camp. The awfulness of her story is leavened by the merciless satirical eye she trains on superstition’s perpetrators – the men who put the women to work.

“‘When I die I will kill you,’ says an irked woman in one scene from I Am Not a Witch. This elderly lady, accused of witchcraft in Zambia, has reached her wits’ end with a farmer who’s forced her to work his fields...

The line sums up the absurd, paradoxical world of witchcraft. When you’ve been told you’re a witch, forced to live as a witch, forced to act as a witch, you might eventually start believing you’re a witch...

Director Rungano Nyoni has made the subject the focus of her debut feature film... a biting satire attacking the ignorance which provides oxygen for this hokum... Satire seemed to be the most appropriate way to tackle a subject poised on a knife edge between tragedy and farce. Underneath the humor there’s staunch determination from the director. ‘It’s so important that we’re not precious about (witchcraft), otherwise nothing gets done,’ she said.”— Thomas Page, CNN.com