1hr 32mins

Rungano Nyoni’s ground-breaking debut feature is a sharply satirical and boldly provocative absurdist parable about a young orphan who is accused of witchcraft.

Rungano Nyoni

When eight-year-old Shula turns up unannounced in a rural Zambian village, the locals are suspicious. As fear in the community builds, hearsay escalates to a full-blown witch trial, where she is found guilty and sentenced to life in a state-run witch camp.

Shula is given a harrowing choice, she must either accept this occult title and live the rest of her life tethered by a coil of white ribbon or reject her local community and be transformed into a goat.

As Shula attempts to settle into her new life, she is exploited by a corrupt government official and dehumanised to the point of no longer being seen as a child but as a tourist attraction.

Shula’s choice between enforced conformity and metamorphosis was inspired by director Rungano Nyoni’s visit to the real-life Zambian witch-camps and her observation that the village goats roam more freely than the women who live there.

Nyoni’s use of surrealism magnificently illustrates the absurdity of the societal structures that tether and bind women and how patriarchal fear often manifests in misogynistic superstition and ritual.

This moving, hilarious and unpredictable masterpiece is a spell-binding exploration of exploitation, voyeurism and African womanhood, centering Nyoni as a fiercely unique voice in British film.

I Am Not a Witch screens as a part of The Monstrous-Feminine film season – to find out more click here.


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