Rungano Nyoni’s “I Am Not a Witch” has been selected as the U.K.’s entry in the race for the Oscar for best foreign-language film.
The British submission in the foreign-language category is selected each year by BAFTA. Any British feature that is predominantly not in English is eligible. The Zambia-set “I Am Not a Witch,” which won a BAFTA Film Award for outstanding debut by a British writer, director of producer in February this year, was shot in both Bemba, a major Bantu language of Zambia, and English.
“I Am Not a Witch” was written and directed by Rungano, a Zambia-born British filmmaker based in Wales. It tells the story of 8-year-old Shula, who, following a banal incident in her village, is accused and found guilty of witchcraft and exiled to a camp for witches in the middle of a desert.
It made its debut in the Director’s Fortnight section of the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. It will open in the U.S. via Film Movement on Sept. 7.
The film was supported through the BFI’s nationwide partnership of film-funding organizations, BFI Network, which aims to help discover and develop new writers, directors and producers. The U.K.-French co-production was financed by the BFI, Film4, Ffilm Cymru Wales, Aide aux Cinémas du Monde (CNC-Institut français), the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund and HBF+Europe: Minority Co-production support.
It was produced by Emily Morgan for Soda Pictures, Juliette Grandmont for Clandestine Films and Titus Kreyenberg for Unafilm, with Soda’s Eve Gabereau, the BFI’s Mary Burke, Ffilm Cymru Wales’ Hannah Thomas, and Film4’s Eva Yates and Daniel Battsek serving as executive producers.
The U.K. has twice seen its submission make it through to receive a nomination in the Oscars’ best foreign-language film category, with the Welsh-language films “Hedd Wyn” in 1993 and “Solomon and Gaenor” in 1999.
Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced Jan. 22, 2019. The ceremony will take place Feb. 24, 2019.