In Conversation with Director Rungano Nyoni of BAFTA Award-Winning Debut Film, ‘I Am Not A Witch’

Rungano Nyoni is the writer and director whose debut feature film, I'm Not A Witch, was awarded the "Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director or Producer" by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) this February in London. Shot in Zambia, the film is primarily about Shula, an 8-year-old girl played by newcomer Maggie Mulubwa, and her experience at a camp for women accused of witchcraft.

In 2017, Nyoni also won “Best Director” at the British Independent Film Award in the same year the film won “Best Feature” at the African International Film Festival held in Nigeria. In a recent interview with OkayAfrica, the Zambian-born filmmaker states that she believes people perform rituals for evil or personal gains, but she doesn’t get the idea of witchcraft. About believing in witchraft during the course of the production, she had this to say “My problem is that witches tend to be evil and it all involves women. So it makes me believe less in it than if it had been both men and women doing evil things. I believe in a god, but when you look at the church, you start looking at men being always in the upper ranks and women being lower and it makes you sort of believe less in the idea of religion. So it’s probably similar to the idea of witches.”

On if she’s worried the film will fuel the west’s perception of Africa, Nyoni said “It’s funny because people that take it literally are the people who already think this is what Africa is. So there’s nothing I can do to help them, really. And I can’t censor myself because of what your preconception is about something, you know?”

Rungano Nyoni’s, I Am Not A Witch, is now available on DVD, Blue-Ray and On Demand.

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