Library's Film Series Will Showcase Independent Films

In East Hampton
In “I Am Not a Witch,” an 8-year-old Zambian girl is sentenced to life at a state-run witch camp.

The East Hampton Library’s annual Winter Film Festival will launch on Sunday with “I Am Not a Witch,” a satiric feminist fairy tale set in contemporary Zambia. The film earned its director, Rungano Nyoni, and producer, Emily Morgan, the award for outstanding debut by a British writer, director, or producer at the 2018 British Academy Film Awards.

The story concerns Shula, an 8-year-old who turns up alone and unannounced in a rural Zambian village. A minor incident leads the suspicious locals to hold a full-blown witch trial, where Shula is found guilty and sentenced to life at a state-run witch camp, with the warning that if she tries to escape she will be transformed into a goat.

As the only child witch, she becomes a star in the community, and the adults around her exploit her until she is forced to choose between life at the camp or a break for freedom. Kenneth Turan, the Los Angeles Times film critic, called the film “possibly the year’s most audacious film debut.”

Steven Spataro, head of adult reference at the library, programs the Winter Film Festival. From the 12 made available to the library each year by Film Movement, a distributor of independent and foreign films, Mr. Spataro selects six.

“I try to make it well rounded,” he said, “and add comedy, drama, thrillers, and documentaries. All of the films selected have received critical praise and/or awards.” 

Subsequent programs will include “Jasper Jones,” a 2017 Australian coming-of-age drama in which a 14-year-old boy and a mixed-race outcast try to solve the murder of a young girl (Feb. 10), “Famous Nathan,” a 2014 documentary about the founder of the Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand on Coney Island (Feb. 17), and “The Third Murder,” a Japanese legal thriller by Hirokazu Kore-eda, the director of the Oscar-nominated “Shoplifters” (Feb. 24).

The festival will conclude with “The Paris Opera,” a behind-the-scenes documentary about a year in the life of the French institution (March 3), and “Hotel Salvation,” an Indian comedy-drama about a son who must take his aging father to the city of Varanasi, where he believes he will die and achieve salvation (March 10).

All screenings start at 2 p.m.