One cannot deny that the brother and sister filmmaking team of Chelsea and Emann Odufu have come together to make something with serious weight to it. But that’s what also makes it unique and refreshing.
Their recently completed film is called “Ori Inu: in Search of Self”, scheduled to be released soon, with the goal, according to Chelsea, of “removing the negative stigmas surrounding African Spirituality.” The filmmaker adds: “Practices that were deemed ‘devil worship’ or ‘evil’ by Christians, I realized were just lost aspects of our true culture, and who we were as a people. Our connection to the Earth, the stars, animals, and each other.”
Starring Tony award winning actress Tonya Pinkins, as well as Helen Beyene, and Trae Harris, with performances by Les Nubians and OSHUN NYC, the film follows a young woman (Beyene) who finds herself in conflict over her Afro-Brazilian family’s tradition of practicing Candomblé, versus the more *acceptable* traditional Christian religions.
The film was based, in part, on Chelsea’s own personal experiences. As she says: “Being raised in a Guyanese household, my family would always tell stories about the magical things that roamed the lands of Guyana, from mermaids to Old Hags, or Baku man, who would pelt your house down. I was always fascinated by these folktales. However, I was raised as a Jehovah Witness and attended Christian schools my entire life. I would only hear the regurgitated stigmas everyone had about traditional practices of our ancestors.”
The main character in the film experiences her own spiritual journey, “in search of self” – a journey that, as the filmmaker notes, has, on a spiritual level, helped her love herself, and “live each day as a positive person.”
Furthermore the filmmakers believe that the time is now right for a film like this, because: “Being melenated, very Black, Afro-punk, and spiritual, is trendy right now. Especially amidst the huge racial tensions currently going on in America. Because of that, we are going to see a lot of Black people curious to know more about African traditions and practices. We are living in a time of re-awakening and, in my opinion, a modern day Civil Rights Movement. The spiritual revolution has just begun.”
The film will premiere on the film festival circuit starting early next year. Visit its website here.
Watch the trailer below: