Following a banal incident in her local village, 8-year old girl Shula is accused of witchcraft. After a short trial she is found guilty, taken into state custody and exiled to a witch camp in the middle of a desert.
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New African Cinema/Women's Cinema by Zambian-Welsh director Rungano Nyoni. She won Best Feature for this at 2017 Africa International Film Festival. The wonderful 9-year-old star Maggie Mulubwa had never been to school but you can contribute to her school fund here: https://www.gofundme.com/maggies-school-fund
Expecting something similar to Rebelle I was pleasantly surprised by this often humorous but biting look at sexism, ignorance and misogyny shaped around the tale of a young girl accused of being a witch. Great performances, in particular the character of Mr Banda who is a joy to watch and reminiscent of a Bruno Dumont film.The ending is abrupt, music mismatched but this is def worth a watch. Refreshing, 3.5 stars
Nyoni, pointing out at TIFF that her first name means "fairy tale", has crafted a heart-rending fable that embodies the perplexing contradictions of Zambia - a matriarchal society that allows the label of witchcraft to arbitrarily enslave women while venerating male witch doctors. Freedom may only be a ribbon cut away, but the shackles of outdated ideas keep young Shula trapped between two non-choices. Unforgettable.
(Cannes 2017) An 8 year old girl on Zambia is accused of being a witch and sent to 'witch camp'. An irresistible mix of original story, stunning visuals, broad comedy moments and magic realism - I expect big things from this.
Humor and tragedy combine effortlessly in this sensitive, mindful, and stylish look at the roots of a distant African culture and the unjust burdens that mark its society. For a first film, Ms. Nyoni not only shows intelligence in the way she addresses the topic but also reinstates hope in the African cinema...
Impeccably directed to the degree that I will watch anything Nyoni turns her hand to next. Features some great performances, especially from Henry B.J. Phiri, whose Mr Banda is almost pitiable in his sweaty ineptitude. It reminded me of Mambéty's 'Hyènes' in its coruscating use of an allegorical framework. However, while Mambéty made films for Senegalese viewers, I felt Nyoni was aiming for an international audience.
This extraordinary film from Zambia shows how a young girl is bought into enslvement as a said to be witch and then tied by ribbons to work in the fields from dawn to dusk alongside 30 other women deemed to be witches. The story has its similarities to Atwood's The Handmaids's Tale in so far as girls and women are restrained and have lost their sense of identity to be economically exploited by the men around them.