Principal photography wraps this week on “I Am Not a Witch,” the debut feature film from BAFTA-nominated Welsh-Zambian filmmaker Rungano Nyoni.
“I Am Not a Witch” has been shooting for six weeks in Zambia’s capital Lusaka and the rural areas around it, and features a cast of non-professional actors from across the country, led by 9 year-old Maggie Mulubwa in the lead role of Shula, pictured in the above first image from the film.
“I Am Not a Witch” is a present day satire about beliefs in witchcraft, revolving around a 9 year old girl, Shula, who is accused of being a witch. Shula is the first child to be taken to a travelling witch camp, where she is tethered to a spool with a ribbon. She is told that should she cut the ribbon and attempt to escape, she will be cursed and transformed into a goat. Over time, Shula begins to long for freedom. Forced to decide whether to accept her fate as a witch, Shula ignites a rebellion within the camp.
David Gallego (Oscar-nominated “Embrace of the Serpent”) is the film’s director of photography; the production designer is Nathan Parker; costume designer is Holly Rebecca (“The Incident,” also stylist to Solange Knowles); and George Cragg (“The Yard”) is the film’s editor.
“I Am Not a Witch’s” producers are Emily Morgan for Soda Pictures, Juliette Grandmont for Clandestine Films and Titus Kreyenberg for Unafilm. Executive producers are Eve Gabereau (Soda Pictures), Mary Burke (BFI), Hannah Thomas (Ffilm Cymru Wales), and Eva Yates and Daniel Battsek (Film4).
Producer Emily Morgan comments: “It’s been exciting seeing Rungano deliver on her truly original script with such emotive visual flare and her unique blend of fantasy and realism, amidst a variety of captivating Zambian landscapes. Like in her short film work, she’s bringing the story to life with remarkable performances from a cast of carefully selected non-actors.”
Rungano Nyoni is a self-taught writer/director who was born in Lusaka, Zambia and grew up in Wales, UK. Her short films have been screened and selected at over 400 international film festivals including Cannes, Toronto, Rotterdam, BFI London Film Festival, Locarno and Tribeca. Her most recent short as writer/director, “Listen,” was selected at over 150 film festivals and won over 70 prizes including the Oscar- qualifying Best Short Narrative Prize at Tribeca Film Festival (2015) and a nomination for Best Short Film at the 2015 European Film Awards.
In 2011 Rungano Nyoni wrote and directed “Mwansa the Great,” which was partly financed by Focus Features’ Africa First program, and was selected at over 100 international film festivals, winning over 20 prizes, and earning nominations for an African Academy Award and a BAFTA. In 2012 she wrote short film “The Mass of Men,” which was selected at over 180 film festivals, winning over 70 awards, including the Golden Leopard at Locarno Film Festival.
“I Am Not a Witch” is a UK-French co-production financed by the BFI, Film4, Ffilm Cymru Wales, Aide aux Cinémas du Monde (CNC-Institut français), the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund and HBF+Europe: Minority Co-production support. The film has been developed with the support of the BFI NET.WORK with National Lottery funding for new and emerging UK filmmakers, Ffilm Cymru Wales, and has also benefited from development support from Cannes Cinefondation Residency 2013, Moulin D’Ande Residency 2014, IFP No Borders Prize 2013, ARTE Prize 2014, Vision Sud Est Development Funding via Locarno Film Festival and HBF Development support.
Soda Pictures will distribute “I Am Not a Witch” in the UK.
International sales TBC.