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This Zambian Filmmaker Won a BAFTA for Her Debut Film 'I Am Not a Witch"

The filmmaker say her win "was a real big shock."

"I Am Not a Witch," a Zambian film about a nine-year-old girl, played by Maggie Mulubwa, sentenced to exile at a witch camp, earned the award for Outstanding debut at the 2018 BAFTA's.

Zambian-born filmmaker, Rungano Nyoni, who moved to wales at the age of 9, expressed genuine shock over the win. "I was waiting for my category to go so I could go to the toilet," said Nyoni afterwards. "It was a real big shock."


The film is heralded for bringing attention to an often overlooked issue that affects various young women on the continent. For research for the film, Nyoni spent time at a "witch camp" in Ghana, reports BBC Africa. We featured the film on our list of 16 films by black directors to check out at Sundance this year.

A review of the film from Sundance reads:

Writer/director Rungano Nyongi's deft directorial instincts unfurl this tale of interconnected vignettes in true mythological fashion, pointedly and with playful vigor. Gorgeously photographed and performed with resolute confidence, Nyongi's astounding work layers satire and social critique into a richly textured and refreshing take on institutional subjugation, and the film resonates with earth-shattering power.

Nyoni spoke to Deadline last week about the film, and she offered practical advice for aspiring filmmakers.

You know what? People are always gonna give you advice about what you ought to do. But for me, the only thing that will ever work, which trumps everything, is just to work hard. They'll always tell you, "Do this, go there, go to film school." But I didn't go to film school. They say, "You've got to network." But I hate networking. I never did it. I found my own way and got there. And I just think hard work really overrides everything. Because I'm not connected, nothing. I just put in all the hours. You have to just put in the hours, I think.

It's clear that her hard work certainly paid off.

Watch the trailer for "I am Not a Witch" below. Congrats to the young filmmaker!

Op-Ed
Photo by Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images.

Black Women Are the Future of French Cinema—When Will Cannes Catch Up?

In this op-ed, OkayAfrica contributor Aude Konan reflects on the progression of diversity in French cinema a year after the Noire N'est Pas Mon Métier demonstration at Cannes Film Festival.

A year ago, 16 French actresses of African descent walked the red carpet at Cannes to talk about a new project they authored, Noire N'est Pas Mon Métier (Being Black Is Not My Job), where they shared their experiences with racism and sexism in the film industry.

In an era where the movements #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite gained global momentum and led to some change in the Academy Awards, it was a first considering that outside of Aissa Maïga, French actresses seldom get any visibility and speaking out against racism put them at risk of being blacklisted, like the actor Luc Saint Eloi's unfortunate experience 20 years ago.

The red carpet moment was generally well received in France and in the rest of the world, with the main actresses getting large media coverage with features in Le Monde, Le Figaro and even Vogue U.S. The presidents of the Cannes Film Festival welcomed the actresses. No promises were made by any of the gatekeepers in French cinema, but the actresses were hopeful.

Since the book's release, the actresses have been busy working, some of them lucky enough to be able to portray fully fledged characters, others being reduced to play the "black woman" stereotype over and over again. Recently, one of them, Karidja Touré, well known for being in the film Girlhood, mentioned that she was pretty good at mimicking an "African accent." Semantics aside—and the fact that there is no such a thing as an African accent, as Africa is still not a country—it is pretty revealing: despite the wonderful coverage these actresses had, has the movement contributed to any change?

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Walshy Fire, Ice Prince & Demarco's 'Round of Applause' Will Soundtrack Your Summer

PREMIERE: New heat from the Major Lazer producer & DJ.

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Akwaeke Emezi's 'Freshwater' Is Being Developed Into a Series for FX

The adaptation is in early development as the Nigerian author teams up with screenwriter and director Tamara P. Carter to bring 'Freshwater' to life.

Akwaeke Emezi's debut, Freshwater, took the literary world by storm when it was released just last year.

We can now anticipate seeing the book be brought to live for TV. Their autobiographical novel is now in the early stages of being developed into a series for FX, Variety reports.

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