Shula is the first child taken to a traveling witch camp, where she is told that should she cut the ribbon and attempt to escape, she will be cursed and transformed into a goat.
Zambian-Welsh director Rungano Nyoni’s provocative satire “I Am Not a Witch” drew much praise when it premiered at the 2017 Cannes Festival, but as it continued to screen around the world, it left many audiences confounded. The events of the movie revolve around a young girl sentenced to life imprisonment at a state-run witch camp, and Nyoni envisioned it as a dark comedy that tackled the country’s history of misogyny.
“My film’s sort of a joke about my culture, that I thought we could all laugh along together to, until I realized that this understanding wasn’t quite universal,” she said in a recent interview. “At screenings, mostly across Europe and North America, it occurred to me that audiences weren’t really in on the joke.” Some audiences would apologize for laughing at certain parts, “maybe feeling like they were punching down by laughing at Africans in a certain predicament,” she said. “It’s like I had to give them permission to laugh.”
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