EUFF 2018: Our Review of ‘I am not a Witch’

Posted in EUFF 2018, Festival Coverage, Movies by - November 21, 2018
EUFF 2018: Our Review of ‘I am not a Witch’

After debuting in North America at TIFF 2017, the striking first feature from writer-director Rungano Nyoni, I am not a Witch, hasn’t been back on Canadian screens since, despite a wave of acclaim including the BAFTA award for Outstanding Debut. Thankfully, EUFF is here to save the day and present it once again. I urge you not to miss out – this sharp little satire is absolutely one of the best films of the year.

In a modern day Zambian village, the townsfolk accuse a young girl named Shula of witchcraft because she was standing around while some people fell over, amongst other trivial incidents. Refusing to speak or defend herself, she’s sent to a witch camp where a ribbon on a spool is attached to her back so she can’t run away. While she could easily just cut through this ribbon, Shula is told that if she does, she’ll be transformed into a goat. Fearing this option more, she decides to stay, bonding with the other accused women.

From here, a strange allegorical journey unfolds in which Shula is commissioned by an obnoxious bureaucrat to use her witch powers to point out criminals from lines of suspects, eventually becoming a nationwide media sensation in the process.

Expertly commenting on the patriarchal control still rampant in everyday society, Nyoni leaves room for both absurdist comedy and damning critique, while also illuminating problems with government corruption, capitalism and tourism exploitation in equally scathing manner. There’s a lot to unpack here, all of it beautifully lensed by cinematographer David Gallego (Embrace of the Serpent).

And at the center of it all is Maggie Mulubwa as Shula, radiating a depth and poise well beyond her years in her first film appearance. She anchors this beautiful tragicomic film as a natural born star.

  • Release Date: 11/21/2018
This post was written by
After his childhood dream of playing for the Mighty Ducks fell through, Mark turned his focus to the glitz and glamour of the movies. He's covered the extensive Toronto film scene for online outlets and is a filmmaker himself, currently putting the final touches on a low-budget (okay, no-budget) short film to be released in the near future. You can also find him behind the counter as product manager of Toronto's venerable film institution, Bay Street Video.
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