NANCY MULILO Charity from the heart

Screening for only a week, the BAFTA award winning debut film by director Runganyo Nyoni I Am Not A Witch hits the UWA Somerville Auditorium today, Monday, March 26. Part satire, part dark fairy tale, part intriguing insight, the film tells the tale of a young girl (Shula played by Margret Mulubwa) accused of witchcraft and exiled to a camp of “witches”. Filmed in Zambia, I Am Not A Witch has a number of non-professional actors in prominent roles. DAVID O’CONNELL spoke to Nancy Mulilo, who plays the wife (Charity) of the government official running the camp, that strikes up a friendship with young Shula and shares a common bond.

How did you become involved in I Am Not A Witch?

Well! Apparently I’m not an actor. So how I got involved in this – I went to attend a fashion show for Zambia fashion week two years ago. So that time I went to the Zambia Fashion Show to give support to my niece who a was one of the models there. And there I was approached by the crew of I Am Not A Witch, because apparently I had the features they were looking for in the character of Charity. I auditioned the next day – and that is how l got the role.

So have you acted before?

I’ve never acted before. It’s actually my first time.

So what was it that attracted you about the character of Charity?

Well… how can I say it? Having not done anything like that, for me I found it very interesting. You know, experience something different from what I do, so playing the role of Charity was interesting and challenging for me. It was an awesome experience.

What was challenging about this experience?

The time issue and the hours put in. It was 13 hours on set, and I’ve never done so much work in a day that costs you so much of your time (laughs). Having to repeat certain scenes, and especially… there was one scene where we had to meet a farmer and Shula could not perform her role as she (her character) was scared from the previous scene. So I had to infuse her role in mine, and do the ritual. There was so much kneeling down, and we had to repeat that scene six times. And my knees were really hurting, to the point where I couldn’t even carry myself much. When you have to do that without showing that you are tired or you are hunting. So that was really the challenging.

How was Maggie (Mulubwa) to work with?

She has a natural born talent, really amazing. Maggie and I have never done any acting. Most of the rest of the crew have done acting before, and some of them are big names in Zambia, but Maggie and I – its our first time doing it. And we manage.

We were told to act natural, and we did, and it turned out wonderful.

Honestly speaking, I didn’t think this movie would go this far and win awards, really I didn’t. It was so amazing when i got the letter that we were to go to France for the Cannes Film Festival, I was like – Whaaat !? Am I dreaming, or not!?

So will you be acting again in the future?

Definitely. I only hope that Rungano Nyoni comes up with something new, and I can also play a role in it.

I Am Not a Witch plays at UWA Somerville from Monday, March 26 to Thursday, March 29, & Saturday, March 31 to Sunday, April 1, 7:30pm.