KELVIN KACHINGWE, Lusaka
ABOUT 10 months after it made its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, critically-acclaimed and award-winning feature film “I Am Not a Witch” by Welsh-Zambian writer-director Rungano Nyoni finally premiered in Zambia last Saturday.
As was expected, a number of artistes turned up at Ster Kinekor, Arcades in Lusaka for the red carpet premiere.
The cast for the film includes Margaret Mulubwa, Margaret Sipaneia, Selita Zulu, Nellie Namweemba Munamonga, Henry B.J. Phiri, James Manaseh, Joseph Tembo, Pulani Topham and John Tembo.
The film has won a number of awards such that it is difficult to list them here. But everywhere it has gone, it has won rave reviews.
At the BAFTA 2018, it won Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer (Rungano and Emily Morgan) and at the Adelaide Film Festival 2017, it picked up the ADL Film fest International Feature Award for Best Film (Rungano) and Foxtel Movies International Award for Best Feature.
“As an International jury we faced a surprising and compelling selection of films and filmmakers from around the world. The jury found a unique and bold quality with ‘I Am Not A Witch’. Based on its originality, it was surprising, funny and compelling. It is a bold debut feature from a director with her singular vision. We are excited to celebrate the work of a bright new talent,” the jury said in awarding Rungano the Foxtel Movies International Award for Best Feature.
That has been pretty much been the story for “I Am Not a Witch”, which is about a young Zambian girl who is banished from her village for alleged witchcraft.
The Hollywood Reporter described it as a “winningly original and stylistically fresh debut feature” and “one of the more buzzy premieres” that screened in the Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes.
“A fable-like story about a young African girl banished from her village for alleged witchcraft, it blends deadpan humour with light surrealism, vivid visuals and left-field musical choices,” they wrote.
However, they thought that beyond the festival and art house bubble, the disjointed narrative and thinly drawn characters were likely to limit the commercial prospects for the film which was shot in Zambia.
“But ‘I Am Not a Witch’ is still a hugely charming debut. With smart marketing, Nyoni’s bold fusion of folklore, social comment, magical realism and her own family heritage could even translate into breakout word-of-mouth success akin to the tonally similar ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’,” they wrote.
KELVIN KACHINGWE, Lusaka