Not since 2009’s Besouro‘s gorgeous depictions of Oshun, Esu and Oya have I been as keen to see a film.
“Ori Inu: In Search of Self “ is a coming of age story about a young immigrant woman who must choose between conforming her identity and spirituality to the cultural norms of America or revisiting her roots in the Afro-Brazilian religion called Candomble.
Grounded in Afrofuturism and Condomble themes, the film is directed by Guyanese-Nigerian-American siblings Chelsea Odufu and Emann Odufu.
For devotees of the Orishas throughout the Diaspora, ‘ori’ means ‘inner head’. Loosely translated, the Ori is the part of God that lives within each of us. Ori is the part of us that is directly connected to God. Ori is in charge of helping us to meet our destinies, and has a vested interest in us and helping us to overcome and achieve iwa pele, “good and noble character”.
In Ori Inu: In Search of Self, the directors say, “With this film we are trying to remove the negative stigmas placed on traditional African religions, and critique ideas of cultural supremacy and intolerance of anything that is different in our society. It is my belief that an immersion in African culture is also an immersion in American culture.”
“Through the institution of slavery, Africa helped to create America both literally and culturally. This film accommodates the many cultural influences, which are needed to exist in a multicultural world and society. It highlights our protagonist’s unique relationship with Christianity and Candomble and shows her internal conflict dealing with two seemingly polar opposite worlds to gain a better understanding of self.”
The film stars newcomer Helen Byene as the protagonist, and the Tony Award winning actress Tonya Pinkin.
The film was crowdfunded via indiegogo, surpassing their goal and pushing the film into final production.
The film’s themes of displacement, dissonance and the stuggle to find empowerment as a woman, through the all empowering energies of Ori and the Orishas, is a journey many devotees can identify with here in the West.
How many of us have been told we ‘worship the Devil’? Who find the antiseptic quality of mainstream religions no match for the primal female energies that loving and being loved by the Orishas encompasses, but the journey itself fraught with personal, emotional and social costs?
“..this film reflects the immigrant experience in America and combats the idea that it is necessary to shed aspects of your heritage or culture in order to assimilate into a monolithic idea of what it means to be American. It asserts that from its inception there has never been one American narrative and celebrates the globalized and multicultural nation in which we live,” the directors add.
“Natalia’s journey in search of self through spiritual and deep connections to her African ancestry is one that can be related to the journey of many African diasporic people. Many are choosing to connect with their spirituality through the practices of their ancestors and find it an empowering experience which creates a sense of connection with the past, which for many African diasporic people is very blurred due to the after effects of slavery.”
Ori Inu: In Search of Self is slated for a 2016 release, but doesn’t the trailer look wonderful? Share your comments below.
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