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A Film Diary

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Watched: 27 October

An impressive, tragicomic debut feature by Rungano Nyoni about a young girl who is accused of being a witch in Zambia and sentenced to a kind of slave labour camp with other accused women, before later being exploited by a government official. It starts out as a coruscating satire, with a number of absurdly funny scenes (or scenes that just seem plainly absurd, at least to my eyes, unfamiliar as I am with the subject matter and the country of Zambia more generally), though Nyoni gradually moves the story into a much darker place, and the final act – in which there is much less dialogue than before – is strikingly solemn. There is an impressive central performance by Margaret Mulubwa as Shula, the girl accused of being a witch, and a scene-stealing turn by Henry BJ Phiri as Mr Banda, the ridiculous government official who exploits the so-called witches. Lovely cinematography. (***½)

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