Join us at RPL Film Theatre for a screening of "I am Not a Witch." Discussion to follow. I Am Not a Witch
Introduced by Alana Bartol| Free Admission | Friday, October 8. 7:00 PM CST | USA | 2017| 93min | STC | Directed by Rungano Nyoni
When 9-year old orphan Shula is accused of witchcraft, she is exiled to a witch camp run by Mr. Banda, a corrupt and inept government official. As the only child witch, Shula quickly becomes a local star and the adults around her exploit her supposed powers for financial gain. Soon she is forced to make a difficult decision - whether to resign herself to life on the camp, or take a risk for freedom.
Questions to consider for the discussion:
1. Did the film change your perception of the figure of the witch? If so, how?
2. As part of her research for the film, Zambian-Welsh Director Rungano Nyoni spent time staying in a real witch camp in Ghana. Though the film addresses present-day realities, it takes the form of a fairy tale. Nyoni was inspired by the unpredictability, musicality, violence, and humour of Zambian fairy tales, “Fairy tales in general are very strange, but Zambian ones mix genres. They’re for kids, but they’re really violent, and they’re funny, and they mix magic realism. All of these things I wanted to take for my film. They are really musical. I was trying to do that.” This mixing of genres is reflected in the film with elements of hyper-realism, comedy, surrealism, folklore, and more. What aspects of the film (or filmmaking) create a fairy tale structure while keeping the story grounded in the present?
3. “I Am Not a Witch” is an emotionally challenging film. Described as a dark comedy, the film explores difficult and disturbing subjects including female subjugation, misogyny, exploitation, voyeurism, and superstition through satire, wit, tragedy, absurdity, and humour. Director Rungano Nyoni speaks about the ways that humour can create an opening into difficult subjects in ways that can unsettle and resonate with audiences, “When talking about exploitation, humor is a very powerful tool for getting people to listen. It lingers in their minds. I don’t want people to consume something and forget it. I want people to be touched by it, and humor, for me, has a ripple effect.” What impact did the film have on you? What questions are you left with?
Works Cited - Kasman, Daniel. “A Zambian Fairy Tale: Rungano Nyoni Discusses Her Debut ‘I Am Not a Witch’ ”. Notebook MUBI. 31 May 2017, https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/a-zambian-fairy-tale-rungano-nyoni-discusses-her-debut-i-am-not-a-witch.