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 Freedom may only be a ribbon cut away, but the shackles of outdated ideas keep young Shula trapped between two non-choices.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.
You can tell the director is an outsider with a low opinion of her blood country by how she mocks and caricatures pretty much everyone in the film. I wouldn't have a problem with a satire about modern African social issues if it didn't completely skip over their issues come from the destruction of colonialism and neglect. Just arrogant. It's a grandstand that pleases western liberal audiences.
Rungano seamlessly vacillates between dark comedy and stark reality in I AM NOT A WITCH. I envy her ability to luxuriate & linger on moments that would've been abbreviated in US Cinema. Her wide shots were feasts for the eyes. My friends THIS is how you do magical realism..<3