I Am Not A Witch revolves around a nine-year-old girl, Shula, who is accused of witchcraft. 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.
The subject and intention of my film evolved after spending a particularly dry summer in Zambia where there were several news reports of women being accused of witchcraft – including my neighbour. And so the idea grew from there. I deliberately wanted to have a more absurd tone in the film – mainly because the more I researched the material, the more bizarre and almost comical it became. I went to North Ghana to research witch camps. I stayed in a witch camp in Kpatinga – with 75 older women living there. I spoke to a woman who had been accused of witchcraft. She had been accused by another woman who had simply dropped a bucket of water on her way back from the well and blamed her for it… It’s sort of funny and tragic at the same time.
Cannes International Film Festival 2017, Quinzaine des realisateurs
Key festivals and awards
Best First Film, Stockholm International Film Festival 2017; Filmfest München 2017; Toronto International Film Festival 2017; CPH PIX 2017; BFI London Film Festival 2017; Busan International Film Festival 2017; Afrikamera 2017, Best Film, Mumbai International Film Festival 2017, BAFTA Film Award 2018; Best film and director, Cyprus Film Days International Festival 2018
Director: Rungano N yoni
Producers: Clandestine Films (France), Soda Pictures (United Kingdom)
German WCF partner: unafilm (Germany)
World sales: tvc
Funded in the WCF Jury meeting in July 2016
Funding amount: 50,000 €