On Thursday night the famous 5-star hotel Claridges in London hosted the Evening Standard British Film Awards. Amongst the winners was newcomer writer and director Rungano Nyoni for her first debut film titled "I Am Not A Witch." She won the prestigious Breakthrough Of The Year trophy.

The film is set in Nyoni’s birth country of Zambia. It centers around a nine-year-old girl named Shula played by a young newcomer actress, Maggie Mulubwa. Her character is wrongly accused of practicing witchcraft and is faced with a dilemma of a lifetime living in a witch camp which also functions as a tourist attraction, or escape but risk transforming into a goat.

The accused witches are attached and controlled using white ribbons which are tied around their waists, and a large bobbin. This skillfully symbolizes the restrictions and limited power experienced by these women. Nyoni is outraged that spiritual beliefs are still being used to oppress women and therefore has chosen to inform and entertain her audience with this refreshing feminist story. Told through the eyes of the child, it is clear that the events are ludicrous and inhuman.

Nyoni chose to make her film a satire which exposes the audience to Zambian humor in response to tragic events which can be cruel and confusing. However, the audience seems to appreciate not being prompted to feel certain emotions but experience a truthful reaction to a beautiful country, inspirational people, and an interesting story.

Succes so far

The film currently has been receiving glowing reviews from critics after its debut at the Cannes Film Festival. This success has translated into multiple award nominations and wins. Nyoni won two awards at the British Independent Film Awards. The first for best director where she defeated Oscar-winning director Martin McDonagh for his film "Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri." The second was The Douglas Hickox award for debut director.

She is also up for a BAFTA award for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director and/or Producer. This will be her second nomination, as she was nominated for Best Short Film with "Mwansa The Great" in 2012.

Perhaps her best achievement to date is being able to provide an education for the brilliant young star of her film.

She was able to set up a GoFundMe page for Maggie Mulubwa’s future studies. Film Four and BFI have also contributed to this worthy cause.

The future

Nyoni has not revealed what her next project is, but expressed a desire to film in Wales -- where she grew up. She is the perfect candidate to deliver diverse and unique insight into immigrants that associate with their environment and cultural roots. This is also a positive light to shine on multiculturalism. Her current success makes her a strong contender for a BAFTA win.