A Young Immigrant Woman Searches For Self & Spirituality In The Afrofuturistic Short Film 'Ori Inu'

Filmmakers Chelsea and Emann Odufu share the stunning first trailer for their afrofuturistic coming-of-age drama 'Ori Inu.'

Ori Inu: In Search of Self is an afrofuturistic coming-of-age drama from the minds of Newark, New Jersey-based siblings Chelsea and Emann Odufu. Currently in post-production, the short film tells the story of a young immigrant woman (Natalia Diaz, played by Helen Beyene) who must choose between conforming her identity and spirituality to America's cultural norms or revisiting her roots in the Afro-Brazilian religion known as Candomblé.

"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," writes Chelsea Emann in her director's statement. "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."

Earlier this month, the Ori Inu team held a party and fundraiser at the Museum Of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) in Brooklyn to celebrate the film's official trailer release with a night of live paintings, dancers, drummers, a panel discussion and a performance by the rising New York-based duo OSHUN (who feature in the film along with the iconic 'Afropean' sisters Les Nubians).

Following the event and trailer release, the film's producer, Emann Odufu, shared an update with Okayafrica:

"The Ori Inu Film team is still in the midst of its Kickstarter campaign and need your support to finish their film. The film tells the immigrant story in America from a perspective that is far too often forgotten and ignored, the perspective of the immigrant black woman. Further, it advocates for religious freedom and for a society that is open to non-conventional ideas on how one chooses to live his or her life. For years the film industry in the US has been a male dominated industry and films about black women created by black women have continually found it hard to get mainstream support. Further Ori Inu was created by our youth who came together to make a piece of art that empowers them and celebrates their love of their culture, ancestry, and identity. Ori Inu is a practice in self love and self exploration in a time when these messages are needed more than ever in the mainstream media. This is why it is crucial that Director Chelsy O's film Ori Inu: In Search Of Self is made. We are sure after you check out ther trailer that you will feel the same way. Please check out her kickstarter and support these young millenials in their quest to find themselves and make positive change in the world. They are depending on your financial support to finish to this amazing film."

Watch the film's first trailer below along with photos from the release party at MoCADA in Brooklyn. Keep up with Ori Inu on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. For more, read Emann Odufu's op-ed on Afrofuturism & Spirituality in his film.

On Tuesday, September 22, filmmakers Chelsea and Emann Odufu will be speaking on the web series CWS Journeys - Conversations With Selwyn for an in-depth, hourlong interview on Ori Inu, black women in the film industry, "Black Spirituality Matters," afrofuturism in film and more. The show starts at 8:30pm EST.

For information on how to support 'Ori Inu: In Search of Self,' head to the film's kickstarter page.

Photos from the Ori Inu: In Search of Self trailer release party, September 12th at MoCADA in Brooklyn. All images courtesy of the filmmakers. Photos by Florby Dorme, RaeAnn Walters and Xavier Polk.


6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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