Episode 068

Rungano Nyoni

You can achieve anything! There is no reason for you not to.

May 26, 2019

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Episode Overview

This year’s Cannes Film Festival has yet another reason to celebrate trailblazing African women in the film industry. ‘Atlantis’ director Mati Diop is the first black female contender for the Palme d’Or, which is the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival.

In celebration of this, let us go back and listen to our interview with award-winning Zambian filmmaker Rungano Nyoni. Her first Directorial feature film ‘I am not a witch’, which she also wrote, made its debut at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2017.

“There is a wealth of information out there, and there is really no excuse. You can come from anywhere and learn. And you don’t need expensive equipment. You just pick up a camera. But you can’t teach someone to have the desire.” – Rungano Nyoni



Her film, which is a satire about a nine-year-old girl accused of witchcraft in Zambia, has gone on to play at every major film festival; and has won several awards, including a BAFTA for ‘Outstanding Debut’. The film has also won ‘Best Director’, ‘Best Feature Film’, ‘Best International Film’ and ‘Best Directorial Breakthrough’ awards.

“You can achieve anything!  There’s no reason for you not to.” – Rungano Nyoni

But Rungano didn’t set out to be a filmmaker – she actually studied for a Masters degree in acting before deciding she preferred being behind the camera and not in front of it.  Since making that decision, Rungano has written and directed 6 short films.

In this interview, Rungano sat down with me at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) to talk about filmmaking and the challenges of being a black woman in the industry.

what you’ll learn in this episode

  • What inspired Rungano to become a filmmaker
  • How she came up with the subject of her first feature film
  • What it takes to make a feature film
  • Some of the challenges she faced in making the film
  • What it’s like being a black female filmmaker
  • What advice she’d give to anyone thinking of a career in filmmaking
  • What inspires Rungano
  • The meaning of Rungano’s name, and how it foreshadowed her career
  • What brings Rungano the most joy
  • What Rungano’s ‘I am’ is


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