I am Not a witch

The award-winning Zambian film “I Am Not a Witch” will be the country’s first film to debut on Netflix. It joins other African films, such as “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” on the international streaming service.

I Am Not a Witch, a Zambian film about an eight-year-old girl, played by Maggie Mulubwa, earned the Outstanding Debut award at the 2018 BAFTA’s and will now debut on Netflix.

The film is based on the experiences of many women across the African continent. Zambian-born filmmaker Rungano Nyoni spent time at a “witch camp” in Ghana for source material, reports BBC Africa.

The film’s synopsis states: “Following a banal incident in her local village, eight-year old Shula is accused of witchcraft. After a short trial, she is found guilty, taken into state custody and exiled to a witch camp. At the camp she takes part in an initiation ceremony where she is shown the rules surrounding her new life as a witch. Like the other residents, Shula is tied to a ribbon attached to a coil that perches on a large truck. She is told that should she ever cut the ribbon, she’d be cursed and transformed into a goat.”

A review at the Sundance Film Festival described the film as “gorgeously photographed and performed with resolute confidence, Nyoni’s astounding work layers satire and social critique into a richly textured and refreshing take on institutional subjugation, and the film resonates with earth-shattering power.”

The Guardian newspaper stated, “Zambian-born Welsh director Rungano Nyoni has delivered a pulsingly odd and strikingly original debut: a tale of dogma, prejudice and corruption in the country of her birth. It’s a strange witches brew of deadpan farce and arthouse stillness that some will find exasperating, and it’s not without its missteps; but there’s a confidence and clarity of vision that’s hard not to admire, especially for a first feature.”

Just like The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, the film was shot in a country with little infrastructure to support the project but the filmmakers decided to stay true to the story and its setting regardless of these challenges. Nyoni’s aesthetic as a self-taught cineaste began when she was first introduced to the concept of arthouse filmmaking by Michael Haneke in his film The Piano Teacher. For her feature debut, Nyoni envisioned a Wales-based project, given that she grew up there. Instead she found herself in Zambia, making a low-budget film that “ticks all the wrong boxes for first-time filmmakers, working with multiple nationalities, animals, amateurs and children in a country with little in the way of infrastructure,” reported the entertainment news site Deadline Hollywood.

This Zambian fairytale is unique, beguiling and just strange enough to be magical. The entire process took four years, but Nyoni’s efforts bore fruit with the film first garnering awards and now debuting on a platform that has a viewership in the millions.

(Source AllAfrica.com)

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21 COMMENTS

    • I was really excited about one of our own doing this and rising to great heights. But I was disappointed really. Ok, it is a Zambian born director, but if it were not depicting Zambia in a bad light, with the superstition and all, it would not ever have seen the light of day as far as awards are concerned. It is a terrible film, bad acting. Didn’t even use the Zambian scenes well for good cinematography. The story is not well told either. I am sorry, she could do better.

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    • Why was the research done in Ghana?? When We Have famous mununga where they can make rain and lightening in middle of winter and now famous bees manufacturing sesheke, just wondering

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    • @ Jay Jay
      Kkkkk Don’t Be that Critical, it’s not a PF or lungu film for a change, support something zambian, she is trying at least(better than lungu) , one day she will make it

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    • ndobo – Should I like it because its Zambian…the script was very poor, I watched it and couldn’t stand it; maybe musungus would find it humorous with all that talk of witchcraft.

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    • @Ndobo, when I watched I was thinking the same that where in Zambia where this weak fake witchcraft?
      Us from Luapula who grew up running after a coffin, helping the dead look for killer could have given them pure action of witchcraft.

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    • I watched it, we don’t do those things in zambia. The only thing which was almost zambian was the behaviour of the police woman the rest made me upset because that’s not the way we behave in zambia.

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    • What is refreshing here?
      There are hundreds of African movies on Netflix, I believe even Zambian SLOW, boring, lazy-bums actors.

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  1. Another film on HIV/AIDS and anything worse about Africa will have the same acclaim. If it bleeds, it leads.

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    • Exactly..no wonder it caught external funding…govt should encourage local firms to invest in film like they did in Oz years ago by giving tax breaks.

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  2. Make films about Zambian heroes full of “can do attitude” or a comedic blockbuster not witches .

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    • There is a Nigerian film on Netflix about a hardworking daughter of a bus transport owner who succeeds in Male dominated business…

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  3. I must confess, I have not seen the movie yet. So my comment is not about my judgement of the film per se.

    However, films about Witchcraft seem to appeal to Western sensibilities. Just look at how much money Harry Potter books and their movie versions made…..just saying!

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    • Save yourself two hours of your life doing something productive…they could have done better but plot is weak and the movie is skincringeing to watch.

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  4. To start with the movie was a satire that is trying to talk about social issues such as corruption and prejudice. To some extent it’s a metaphor of one’s own life. It depicts how we are enslaved in our own limitations of perception. The ribbon cutting was very symbolic of that.

    I saw some Kubrick style of delivery in there. The movie does start off very slow, I see how it lost some viewers.

    The movie was brilliant in how to evokes various ranges of emotions while being humorous. Cinematography in this movie is not trying to follow some Hollywood cookie cutter way of doing things.

    Let us not forget that this is an Indi film and hence should not be compared to some big Hollywood productions.

    I think it worked well because it did not use real actors (except for a few).

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