Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Bewitching Supernatural Satire of Modern Zambia

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Bewitching Supernatural Satire of Modern Zambia

Article excerpt

I AM NOT A WITCH Cert 12A, 90 mins IN ROBERT Eggers's supernatural epic The Witch, a young, 17th-century New Englander embraces her inner hag. By contrast, Rungano Nyoni's debut is a satire-cum-tragedy set in modern-day Zambia that centres on a child who can't fly away. The two films would make for a gloriously bleak double-bill. Everything's different. Nothing's changed.

Shula (Maggie Mulubwa) is an orphan accused of witchcraft by the superstitious members of her village. She's thrown into a camp mostly populated by old women tethered by ribbons to giant reels (there are so many extraordinary images in this movie but it's especially likely that the reels will drill their way into your brain). Soon, Shula's being touted around by a government official (Henry BJ Phiri), a man bewitched by scapegoats (he's married to one) who also understands their economic potential.

Newcomer Mulubwa has a heartrendingly impassive face. Like Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild, she never overacts. …

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