Following a banal incident in her local village, 8-year old girl Shula is accused of witchcraft. After a short trial she is found guilty, taken into state custody and exiled to a witch camp...
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Following a banal incident in her local village, 8-year old girl Shula is accused of witchcraft. After a short trial she is found guilty, taken into state custody and exiled to a witch camp. At the camp she takes part in an initiation ceremony where she is shown the rules surrounding her new life as a witch. Like the other residents, Shula is tied to a ribbon which is attached to a coil that perches on a large truck. She is told that should she ever cut the ribbon, she'll be cursed and transformed into a goat.
I'm disappointed there aren't more reviews on this superb little film, considering it's the work of a first time director who shows impressive talent and promise.
The good: excellent camera work which uses the parched landscape of rural Zambia to great effect, reinforcing the interior lives of the characters and moving the story forwards.
The little girl is superb in the role, one of the greatest performances I've seen from a child actor in a long time, she conveys everything without speaking, simply from her expression or body language. Incredible.
Plenty to read into the film, the three friends I went with had plenty to say about it afterwards and we all agreed the themes it explored apply to every human culture, not just an African one. the same behaviours and ways people delude themselves or accept ridiculous beliefs because they want to belong, the way human societies find someone to scapegoat and project on to that person all of the groups ills, all this is depressingly familiar.
My only criticism is this is again a film of Afro pessimism, there's precious few films from the continent making it on to cinema screens, the only ones I can think of recently are Felicite, Johnny Mad Dog. Both somewhat gloomy subject matter. it would be nice to see some films that offered a different perspective. Having lived and worked in Africa I know there's a lot more to the continent than child witches, child soldiers, FGM, HIV epidemics, diseases, starvation corrupt leaders and so on...
People get on in much the way they do anywhere, making the best of what little they have...
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