First time feature from Welsh-Zambian director Rungano Nyoni is a charming study of an orphan whose supposed magic powers are a goldmine for venal officials
Zambian-born Welsh director Rungano Nyoni has delivered a pulsingly odd and strikingly original debut: a tale of dogma, prejudice and corruption in the country of her birth. It’s a strange witches brew of deadpan farce and arthouse stillness that some will find exasperating, and it’s not without its missteps; but there’s a confidence and clarity of vision that’s hard not to admire, especially for a first feature.
Events open with Shula (Maggie Mulubwa), a shy and inexpressive orphan, being accused by her fellow townspeople of witchcraft: one woman has alleged that she made her trip over while carrying a bucket of water, and a man has backed up her allegation with his own account of the girl chopping of his arm with an axe. (Said arm has miraculously reattached itself by the time he makes this claim.) A gloriously droll police officer indulges these accusations with a mix of apathy and outright disdain, but the will of the people is clear, and Shula is exiled from the town.