A welcomed project that digs into the pantheon of Orishas as inspiration for a superhero-style picture, here’s a description of it:
The film resurrects mythical deities from African folklore, known as Orishas, into modern-day superheroes in Britain. The film will be presented In a visually unique style drawing inspiration from related genres, including sci-fi, action and martial arts and presenting a truly phenomenal spectacle in the art of film. According to the Yoruba religion of Nigeria Orishas are a collective of charismatic deities with specialised supernatural gifts, powers and responsibilities. Tradition has it that these supernatural beings once walked the earth with humanity. We will tell a story that has not been heard before and discover worlds that have not yet been explored in Black British Cinema. These rich worlds and stories have been carried in peoples’ minds for millennia and told mostly orally. Amazingly, this culture has not been visualised on the British silver screen, until now.
It actually really hasn’t been explored in American cinema either as well – certainly not Hollywood studio cinema! There’ve been indie documentaries that touch on the subject, but I can’t immediately recall a feature-length fiction film that has.
And the pantheon of Orishas is deep! Eshu, Obatala, Ogun, Oshun, Shango, and countless others – each, as Nosa notes in his above description, with their own individual powers and responsibilities – a perfect set up for any filmmaker to get creative with. A nice chunk of your work is already done!
I should also note that you’ll find Orisha lineages all over the Diaspora, not just in Nigeria (see South America and the Caribbean especially).
By the way, Oya, the Orisha in the title of Nosa’s upcoming film, is considered a warrior, and some of her powers are really not all that different from Storm of the “X-Men.” Oya can control the weather; but she can do, and is responsible for much more than that. She’s considered very powerful, even indestructible, and is believed to have been romantically-linked to both Ogun and Shango.
The filmmaker’s plan was/is to produce a short version of what will eventually become a feature-length film, as we’ve seen other filmmakers do repeatedly in the past – who use the short film to help raise money for the feature. This is an approach I’ve always championed – especially if you’re a relatively unknown filmmaker. Show them what you can do first; win over their confidence; and then, hopefully, they’ll want to invest in you.
So this is just a prelude to what’s coming down the pike.
Ethosheia Hylton stars in the film which will make its USA screening debut at the 2nd annual Matatu Film Festival in Oakland, CA, which runs from July 16 to 19, at The Flight Deck and Impact Hub.
Per the press release I received, the festival takes its name from East African minibuses called matatus, that are decorated with popular icons and sounds.
These matatus serve as a means of transportation and as an access to another world. These different films spotlight a unique journey regardless of age, geographical bounds, sexual preference, race, and socio-economic status and the story that represents the sacred agreement among disparate communities.
The festival’s lineup includes films we’ve highlighted on this blog, including:
OPENING NIGHT: THE GREAT FLOOD
The festival kicks off on Wednesday, July 16 at the Impact Hub in Oakland with a screening of THE GREAT FLOOD, a collaborative project between director Bill Morrison and musician Bill Frisell. Inspired by the Mississippi River Flood of 1927, the film includes archival footage from the flood backed by a score of American roots music that compliments the thematic focus. San Francisco Foundation CEO, Fred Blackwell, and PolicyLink Founder, Angela Glover Blackwell will be in attendance for a pre-screening discussion introducing the film. The film is , a follow up to Broaklyn’s ongoing Brooklyn/Oakland Reconstructed film and lecture series. The series most recently featured a talk with two of Oakland’s leading developers, Alan Dones of the Broadway Telegraph Redevelopment Project, and Michael Ghielmetti of The Hive and the Brooklyn Basin redevelopment projects.
UNOGUMBE is based on Benjamin Britten’s Noye’s Fludde opera closely but moves the action from medieval England to present day South Africa where the background of poverty of the township is a striking metaphor for man’s inhumanity to man. New York based painter Kehinde Wiley, known for his vibrant reinterpretations of classical portraits featuring African American men is the subject of KEHINDE WILEY: AN ECONOMY OF GRACE. The film follows him as he steps out of his comfort zone to create a series of paintings of women and traces the artists process from concept to canvas as he reveals another side of black femininity. Both films screen Thursday, July 17 starting at 7:15pm at The Flight Deck in Oakland.
In the short film AFRONAUTS, a group of ragtag Zambian exiles try to beat America to the moon in 1969 on the eve of the first moon landing. Following AFRONAUTS, the wild documentary THE 12 O’CLOCK BOYS director Lofty Nathan, spotlights the notorious Baltimore-based urban dirt bike gang. Both films screen Thursday, July 17 starting at 8:45pm at The Flight Deck in Oakland.
OYA: RISE OF THE ORISHA resurrects the mythical deities from African folklore into modern-day superheroes. This thrilling narrative focuses on Ade and his connection with one of these deities, Oya. A visual essay told in five, weaving parts, EVAPORATING BORDERS pieces together stories of tolerance, identity and nationalism as they collide in migration issues on the island of Cyprus. Both films screen Friday, July 18 starting at 7:15pm at The Flight Deck in Oakland.
In the forested depths of eastern Congo lies Virunga National Park, one of the most bio-diverse places in the world and home to the last mountain gorillas. In VIGUNGA, a small group of embattled park rangers protect this site from armed milita, poachers and the dark forces struggling for control of the Congo’s rich natural resources. Screens Friday, July 18 at 9:15pm at The Flight Deck in Oakland.
EVOLUTION OF A CRIMINAL follows Darius Clark Monroe as he returns to his neighborhood several years after robbing a bank with two friends. This searing documentary features interviews with Monroe’s family members, close friends and mentors who recount the stages of his transformation from a joyous child, to the moment he realized the severity of his family’s financial problems and how their struggles changed his outlook on society. Screens Saturday, July 19 at 5:45pmat The Flight Deck in Oakland.
A modern day film noir, OF GOOD REPORT tracks Parker, a shy high school teacher arriving at new school. With an earnest passion for teaching, his extra-curricular attentions are drawn to a gorgeous young woman. Screens Saturday, July 19 at 7:20pm at The Flight Deck in Oakland.
A celebration of the trans community in Puerto Rico, MALA MALA is a unique exploration of self-discovery and activism featuring a diverse collection of subjects that include LGBTQ advocates, business owners, sex workers and a boisterous group of drag performers. Screens Saturday, July 19 at 9:30pm at The Flight Deck in Oakland.
Poster for “Oya: Rise of the Orishas” below, followed by poster for the film festival, and teaser trailer for “Oya” if you missed it the first time we posted it months ago: