Spring 2019 films

Series: World Cinema

I Am Not A Witch

post-screening discussion by Africana Studies professor N'Dri Assie-Lumumba and PhD candidate Lauren Siegel

director:
Rungano Nyoni
cast:
Benfors 'Wee Do, Boyd Banda, Kalundu Banda

“A fable-like story about a young African girl banished from her village for alleged witchcraft, [the film] blends deadpan humor with light surrealism, vivid visuals and left-field musical choices.” (The Hollywood Reporter) Young Shula finds herself interned in a ‘witch camp’ full of elderly women who take her under their wings, while the camp’s owner, Mr. Bandi exploits the women’s labor as well as their exotic appeal to European tourists. Zambia-born Welsh director Rungano Nyoni’s magic-realist debut film has its origins in the real-life existence of ‘witch-camps’ in modern Africa; the director spent a month at one located in Ghana prior to filming.

“Many such camps exist in real life, but Nyoni adds some fanciful invention of her own, including the inspired device of the alleged witches being permanently anchored to the ground on long white ribbons attached to giant spools that prevent them from flying away… Leading a cast of non-professional actors, 9-year-old screen novice Maggie Mulubwa radiates a quietly haunted intensity as Shula… Nyoni counterpoints the long, deep, sultry silences of the Zambian bush with bright splashes of music, including lusty choral chants, vivid bursts of Vivaldi, incongruous snatches of Europop and jazzy percussive flourishes that blur the line between score and sound design. … I Am Not a Witch feels like the birth of a significant new screen voice.” (The Hollywood Reporter) “It is in her sublime direction—lengthy close-ups, clever tableaux and skillful scoring—that the writer-director accomplishes a social critique so cinematic as to defy description.” (Film Journal International) The UK’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, and one of the nine films shortlisted for the award.

website: iamnotawitch.com