Afrofuturistic Short Film ‘Ori Inu’ to Premiere in NYC

The coming-of-age drama debuts at Mist Harlem Saturday.

Ever since the official trailer for Afrofuturistic short film Ori Inu: In Search of Self  debuted last year, Newark, New Jersey siblings Chelsea and Emann Odufu have been busy wrapping post-production, a Kickstarter campaign and doing plenty of speaking engagements at American universities such as Yale, Dartmouth, NYU and Columbia.

The coming-of-age drama’s NYC premiere at Mist Harlem Saturday evening will mark an indelible moment of triumph for the Guyanese-Nigerian American brother and sister team who hustled countless hours to make their imagining a concrete reality.

The short film tells the story of a young, immigrant woman—Natalia Diaz (Helen Beyene)—who is torn between assimilating to American culture or rediscovering her Afro-Brazilian roots through the Candomblé religion, first transported to Brazil by West African slaves in the 19th century.

“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,” Chelsea explains in her director’s statement.

Ori Inu: In Search of Self  also stars Tony Award-winning actress Tonya Pinkins (of U.S. soap opera All My Children) and NewlywedsTrae Harris, and features performances from Yoruba-influenced, Brooklyn-based duo OSHUN (Thandiwe and Niambi Sala) and “Afropean” sisters Les Nubians (Hélène and Célia).

For more info visit the film's website, watch the film's trailer and clip above, and click here to purchase tickets for Saturday’s premieres at 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. EST.

Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

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