I Am Not A Witch director Rungano Nyoni has been awarded the UK’s Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship at an event in London.
The award, given in partnership with the BFI and Film4, is worth $38,000 (£30,000) and is designed to help the recipient explore screenwriting subjects involving science, health and the human condition. The Wellcome Collection, a medical and cultural institution in London, also makes its resources, research and facilities available to the recipient.
The Welsh-Zambian writer and director’s debut feature I Am Not a Witch premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and Nyoni went on to win the BAFTA award for Outstanding Debut for a British Writer, Director or Producer. Film4 and BFI were among the film’s backers.
The Fellowship is chaired by script editor Kate Leys; Lizzie Francke, Senior Development and Production Executive at the BFI; Lauren Dark, Commissioning Executive, Film4; Imran Khan, Head of Public Engagement, Wellcome; Iain Dodgeon, Creative and Partnerships Manager, Wellcome; and Emma Duffy, Drama and Film Executive, Wellcome. Previous recipients of the award include Michaela Coel, Clio Barnard and Jonathan Glazer.
Rungoni said of her win, “I have to say how utterly honoured I am to be this year’s Fellowship recipient. It’s not often that someone shows so much faith in you and your work that they support you with no strings attached. It has come at a time where I am trying to figure out what kind of filmmaker I want to be as I embark on my second feature. It’s beautiful and refreshing that Wellcome is allowing me to just explore. That’s rare. Right now I am fascinated by the idea of studying indigenous cultures in Africa, and other parts of the world, and the impact modernisation and colonisation has had on their mental health and communities. Besides that I will use the time to scour through Wellcome’s extensive archives and collection of graphic novels.”