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‘On Becoming A Guinea Fowl’ Review: Family Secrets Unravel In Rungano Nyoni’s Zambian Funeral Drama – Cannes Film Festival

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Rungano Nyoni made her name in 2017 with her Directors’ Fortnight entry I am Not a Witch, a surreal comedy of sorts in which a young Zambian girl named Shula is forced to choose between being turned into a goat or confessing that she is a witch.

Opting for the latter, Shula is sent to a witch camp and put to work in the service of the community, the source of some uncomfortable satire, creating a space for Nyoni to explore the points of conflict between superstition and civilization in modern African society.

On Becoming a Guinea Fowl, by its total alone, suggests something similar, but although the protagonist is also called Shula, Nyoni’s sophomore film is something darker and altogether more serious.

This time, the focus is the rub between tradition and modernity, using the occasion of a family funeral as the jumping-off point for a slow-burn drama builds, rather stealthily, to an unexpectedly emotional climax.

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