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Welsh-Zambian filmmaker's debut feature to premiere at Cannes

Rungano Nyoni’s I Am Not a Witch has been selected for Directors’ Fortnight at the most prestigious film festival in Cannes.

 

A present-day African drama about beliefs in witchcraft, the film revolves around a nine-year-old girl – Shula - who is accused of being a witch. As she navigates through her new life, she must decide whether to accept her fate or risk the consequences of seeking freedom.

Writer-director Rungano Nyoni was born in Zambia and raised in Cardiff, Wales, which remains her home. Before making her feature debut, she made several short films, including BAFTA Cymru winner The List, and was supported from an early stage by Ffilm Cymru Wales through the BFI NETWORK Wales emerging talent fund.

 

Produced by Emily Morgan of Soda Pictures and Juliette Grandmont of Clandestine Films, the project marks the 16th international co-production for Ffilm Cymru Wales, underscoring the benefits of an outward looking talent base that is able to raise finance and have their stories travel internationally.  The film’s financiers include Ffilm Cymru Wales, the BFI, Film4, Aide aux Cinémas du Monde (CNC-Institut français), the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund and HBF+Europe: Minority Co-Production Support. Kinology are representing the film for international sales.

I Am Not a Witch is just one of more than 30 films from home-grown Welsh talent that Ffilm Cymru Wales executives will be showcasing at this year’s Cannes Marché.

Exciting new projects include:

ETERNAL BEAUTY

Eternal Beauty is Submarine star Craig Roberts’ second film following his Ffilm Cymru Wales-supported directorial debut Just Jim. The darkly-comic drama will star Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky, Submarine, Paddington) as a woman waging a 20-year war against her paranoid schizophrenia with a dream of beauty pageantry.

 

 

 

 

QUEERAMA

Produced by Catryn Ramasut, of Welsh company ie ie Productions (American Interior), Queerama has been mined from the treasure trove of the BFI National Archive, capturing the relationships, desires, fears and expressions of gay men and women in the 20th century. The feature documentary will seek sales and distribution deals in Cannes, before opening Sheffield Doc/Fest in June, marking the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.

 

 

 

DENMARK

This comedy from Welsh writer Jeff Murphy and producer Ed Talfan (Hinterland, The Passing) will star Rafe Spall (The BFG, Jurassic World 2) as Herb, a down on his luck Welshman with no job, bad neighbours and even worse prospects. Upon discovering Danish convicts live a luxurious life he could only dream of, Herb finally has something to aspire to: a life in Denmark… in prison. Ffilm Cymru Wales developed Denmark with BBC Films, with WestEnd Films newly announcing the title in Cannes.

 

 

 

RAY & LIZ

Ray & Liz is the debut feature film of Wales-based Turner Prize-nominated photographer Richard Billingham. Working with producer Jacqui Davies and Under the Skin cinematographer Daniel Landin, Billingham returns to the celebrated and striking series of photographs of his family during Thatcher-era Britain to tell a universal story of everyday loneliness, love and loss. Ray & Liz is financed by the BFI and Ffilm Cymru Wales, in association with Welsh production company Severn Screen.

 

 

 

THE EXISTENCE OF LIBERTY WHITE

Milkwood Productions will also be presenting their high-concept sci-fi The Existence of Liberty White at the first ever Frontières Platform in Cannes. Co-hosted by the Fantasia International Film Festival, which celebrates genre fare from around the world, including this cyberpunk consciousness-transferral thriller from producer Zack Winfield, director Nick Parish, and Welsh writer Gwilym Davies.

 

 

 

 

Ffilm Cymru Wales CEO, Pauline Burt, comments that “this is a bumper year for Wales in Cannes – reflecting a maturing film sector rich with talented writers, directors and producers that are telling stories that resonate internationally, and apply agile market thinking from the earliest stages.  As part of Ffilm Cymru Wales’ ‘Magnifier thinking,’ the talent is supported to maximise their audience reach and the value of their intellectual property – including developing additional assets such as games, education resources, stage/television adaptations, for example. 

Wales’ film talent has always been progressive and outward facing, with the highest level of international co-productions coming through. We’re looking forward to working with our colleagues across Europe and beyond, including through the Cineregio network and its documentary, animation, kids and green spin-outs.

We’re also delighted to be attending Cannes alongside our colleagues at Pinewood Wales and aligned with Welsh Government’s creative industries offer, which makes Wales amongst the best places to come and film with world-class crew, facilities and locations.”