Rungano Nyoni awarded Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship

BAFTA award-winning writer and director Rungano Nyoni (‘I Am Not a Witch’) has been awarded the 2018 Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship, in partnership with BFI and Film4.

Rungano Nyoni

Credit: Steven Pocock, Wellcome

Rungano Nyoni: "It’s beautiful and refreshing that Wellcome is allowing me to just explore."

Selected from over 100 names nominated by the film and television industries, the award recognises the Welsh-Zambian’s distinct film-making style. Her debut feature ‘I Am Not a Witch’ was lauded at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and she went on to win a BAFTA Award for Most Outstanding Debut.

The £30,000 award provides a year-long, tailored experience that includes access to some of the most exciting scientific and humanities research in the world.

It aims to give the screenwriter time to explore, research and inspire new ideas around the intersection between screenwriting, health and science, without the constraint of delivering a project.

Rungano says: "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."

Simon Chaplin, our Director of Culture and Society, says: "We’re delighted that Rungano Nyoni will be the next Wellcome Screenwriting Fellow. With her distinct filmmaking style and keen interest in the way different cultures approach health, we’re sure that she’ll take the Fellowship in a new and exciting direction.

"Supporting and stimulating ideas has always been central to Wellcome’s approach; the fellowship gives screenwriters a chance to make connections and explore new ideas with Wellcome’s research."

Since 2013, the Wellcome Screenwriting Fellowship has produced a growing legacy of work rooted in a deep understanding of what it means to be human.

  • Sally Wainwright wrote and directed her forthcoming BBC drama 'Gentleman Jack'. She also used the fellowship to begin the process of translating and digitising all of Anne Lister’s diaries.
  • Carol Morley used the ideas sparked during her fellowship to develop 'Out of Blue', a co-production with Wellcome.
  • Clio Barnard’s fellowship informed her film 'Dark River'.

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