Sundance 2018 Film Review: 'I am Not A Witch'

Sundance 2018 Film Review: 'I am Not A Witch'

Full blown Witch trials still happen in parts of the world....

In Nigeria, within Keats State, a Goat was arrested as an armed robbery suspect. A vigilante group apprehended the Goat with the impression that human thief engaging in witchcraft turned himself into an animal to avoid detection. The belief in witchcraft is common in Nigeria and many other parts of Africa to include the country of Zambia--the setting for director Rungano Nyoni new film I am Not A Witch. The film as an important message about how vigilante culture, sexism, and colorism, can subjugate women particularly--dark skin women.

I am Not A Witch is a dark comedy set in contemporary Zambia. Rungano Nyoni's first directorial effort satirizes the often contradictory nature of traditional beliefs and modern culture. Being exiled after a minor incident in her village, 9-year-old Shula is sent to live at a "witch camp," and if she tries to escape, she will be transformed into a goat. As she navigates through her new life, she must decide between accepting her fate or risking the consequences of seeking freedom.

It's no surprise that women are treated as second-class citizens the world over. What I neglected to remember is the harsh labeling that comes with that control. As prevalent witchcraft still is, seemingly anyone can accuse you of being a practitioner. There is no due process here, so once you're guilty of witchery, you're sent off to a reform "witch camp" where other witches work menial jobs for no pay. There aren't many options as a witch. It's live life as a servant or you're stoned to death.

Each woman at the camp is tied to a spool of ribbon. If she decides to cut the ribbon and run away, she will turn into a Goat. They are scared to cut the ribbon as they so firmly believe this myth. They are humiliated, put on display as if they are zoo animals, and would rather stay in the camp. Tourists can visit, pay admission, and take selfies, but remain ignorant to the plight of these women because no one questions why they are on display in the first place.

Colorism and respectability politics are other issues Shula must confront. The camp consists only of dark skin women--as if skin color is punishment. In one scene, Shula is sent to use her witch skills to find a village thief in a lineup. She's unsure who the culprit is, so she calls one of the camp elders for advice. When she asks the elder what to do, the response is, "choose the dark one." Not surprising in the slightest. It's a scene that reinforces how dark skin is evil and destructive.

But a witch is a witch, as we see with Bwalya, wife of Police Chief Banda. She explains to Shula that respectability is the way to rise above it all. The woman is also a witch, but respectability through marriage is what "saved" her. Shula thinks Bwalya has knowledge worth learning until she sees the public treat Bwalya the same as any other witch: with hostility. Sure, she doesn't have to waste away in a reformist witch camp, but she still experiences public scrutiny. Bwalya being light skin is a major reason she's able to marry into the middle class. That's obvious to the audience, but for some reason, the film doesn't address it outright.

After discovering nothing will change, and no one will help, Shula concludes the only release from this life, is death. At the age of 9, she is brave enough to take back the power from her oppressors. Her actions give the camp elders the understanding that they are more powerful than they realize. They yearn for freedom, and learn from Shula about how to make that possible.

Filmmaker Rungano Nyoni has a unique shooting style, however, that method didn't pair evenly with the content. I'm not sure why the film is labeled as a satirical comedy as there is no way to make oppression funny. But maybe that's the point? I did appreciate Nyoni's artistic vision here--if only the themes were more explicit, her style choices wouldn't have left me feeling so unfulfilled. Thankfully, the story is strong and executed well enough to make up for the faults that exist.

I am Not A Witch will take you through a range of emotions: sadness, anger, happiness. It might make you shed a tear or two.

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18 Times Kate Middleton Was Actually All Of Us In College, Beside The Princess Thing

Every girl has to go through her clueless college stage before she reaches Duchess status.

Kate Middleton is basically a household name by now, and how could this not be the case when she has the gorgeous hair, kind smile, and incredible fashion sense. With her constantly in the spotlight looking so put together, we sometimes forget that the Duchess was actually all of us in college!

Here are 18 times that Kate proved she was just like all of us.

1. Going all out in the name of school spirit

There is nothing like breaking out the war paint and screaming for your home team. Like Kate, we all love to get a little messy and make some memories with our friends.

2. Hanging out with the roomies

Some people may not get lucky in this area but for those who are best friends with their roommates, they understand the love. It's a dream come true for everyone who has always wanted to live with their best friends. It's like a sleepover that never ends.

3. Dressing up cute on the first day of school...

You got to make a good first impression on your way to school. Whether it's during your 7 A.M or 4 P.M., it's always best to dress to impress.

4. ...and wearing yoga pants for the rest of the year

And this goes all the way until the last week of school when you don't bother getting out of bed to wear pants at all.

5. Going grocery shopping and throwing in cookies, ice-cream, and every type of Pringles because your mom isn't there to say no

You'll probably regret that in a few months when the Freshman Fifteen kicks in.

6. Walking for miles from your car to your dorm carrying groceries

We can't park by the apartment for a solid five minutes to carry our groceries up to the kitchen or we will risk a ticket, but we can walk a few miles carrying food that gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier with every step.

7. Going out for a night on the town on a Friday night

Dancing, laughter, and fun? Everyone in college has been to a party or two. It's a classic part of the college experience. Sometimes you just need a distraction from all the essays and tests.

8. Being so late to class you threw on whatever your hands grabbed next

We've all been there. Our alarm doesn't go off, we press snooze a few too many times, or forget to even set an alarm and next thing you know we are running around the dorm room like Taz from Looney Toons. You throw on whatever, then run to class.

Unfortunately 9/10 times our outfits don't turn out. Although, Kate can certainly pull off this look, no matter how mismatched.

9. Pretending your walking to the same building as the cute boy you met so you have the excuse to keep talking to him

I am very guilty of doing this. Although I missed my class, at least I got to talk to the really cute boy who has class at 9:45 in the STEM building. It was worth it.

10. Sitting on the floor or standing because you're a poor college student who can't afford chairs or tables

Eating on the floor? Always. Being a college kid is tough and sometimes you have to sacrifice some things to obtain the others. Such as choosing chocolate milk and Halo Top over vegetables and hair conditioner.

Judging by Kate's beautiful locks, she chose the conditioner.

Probably the vegetables too.

We should just all follow her example.

11. Going on cute date with the boy you followed to class-turned-boyfriend

Now my short-lived romance may not have extended farther than us talking and walking to his class, but Kate and William obviously had a better ending. Nevertheless, college is the place to grow and date and possibly find the one.

12. Keeping your hair long and growing because you can't afford to get it cut

Don't trust your roommate. No matter how many times she begs you to let her cut it. Don't.

13. Turning 21 and getting dressed up and going out with your best friends

While this one probably doesn't apply to Kate, since you can drink at age 18 in most countries, all my people in the United States know the sweet freedom of turning 21. It's an iconic time in a students life and marks a huge milestone as well.

14. Passing out flyers for some type of movement or protest

Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger - which is why college is the time to stand up for what you believe in. May that be RedforEd, Planned Parenthood, anti-Abortion, Trump, the Wall, pizza bagels, it's all an exercise of the first amendment.

15. Ranting to your friends about the professor that just "doesn't understand you"

You know your thinking about that professor right now as you read this. And you know that that's your reaction whenever they give you a bad grade or say something you disagree with at the tiniest degree.

16. Getting glammed-up for those senior photos

Pick out your best outfit and make sure it's a good hair day because everyone will be viewing these photos forever... and in Kate's place that is more than true. Luckily she looks as gorgeous as ever. Does she ever have a bad hair day?

17. Walking out of your last class knowing you'll never have to write a single paper again

And purposefully not thinking about how you will be going into the real world in less than a few days.

18. When you've graduated and realized you have no idea what you're going to do with your life

Maybe a prince will be right around the corner to sweep you off your feet so you won't have to figure your life out.
Cover Image Credit: Laura Warshauer

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The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.


Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.

Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

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