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Newark Team Create Film That Tackles Racial and Religious Persecution
originally published: 02/19/2017
Chelsea and Emann Odufu, a pair of Guyanese / Nigerian / American creatives and art activists born in Newark, NJ and now based in New York City, have created ORI INU: In Search of Self – an Afro-futuristic coming-of-age story of 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 known as Candomblé. Sharing an unfamiliar cultural narrative, this original entry into this year’s Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) and Hollywood Black Film Festival (HBFF) stars Tony Award-winning actress Tonya Pinkins (All My Children) and features performances by the Grammy nominated group Les Nubians.
Though the film by the brother and sister team revolves around a young woman torn between the practice of Candomblé and Christianity, the story is a universal one of self-enlightenment, told through an unconventional lens. With rich color and Afro-futuristic imagery, ORI INU addresses inter-generational conflicts, religion, and the trauma of finding one’s true self. While portraying the protagonist’s journey, the film engages audiences with a powerful message reflecting how self-examination and knowledge of self can create a brighter future – not just for people of African descent – but for all peoples.
“It is our hope that the film will serve as a tool to connect cultures and have people see the similarities between differing religions and backgrounds, while showing the divinity of Black and Brown people that is far too often underrepresented in modern day media,” said the film’s Director and Co-creator, Chelsea Odufu. “So much of our identity is defined for us by media, and one of the messages here is that you should look within yourself to be free,” said Chelsea.
Emann Odufu, Producer and Co-writer of ORI INU describes the film as being a product of its time. "In an era where society seems to be telling us that black lives don't matter, this film is encouraging youth of the african diaspora to define their own identity for themselves and to go after their individual purpose and truth," said Emann.
The Odufu siblings aim to create media that interrogate the idea of identity and the complexities of what it means to be a Black American or immigrant within the modern context of our society. The 23-year-old Chelsea is recent graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and the film began as an idea for her thesis project. Over the past year they have done workshops and speaking engagements at institutions around the country, including Yale, Dartmouth, Vassar, NYU, Columbia, Wesleyan, and the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art to name a few. These speaking engagements revolved around their film “ORI INU” and its ability to spark conversations about the representation of Blacks in the media, Afro-futurism, the stigma of African spirituality and other topics such as female empowerment and the quest to find one’s path in life.
State Theatre Presents Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back In Concert with NJSO
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra present Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in concert with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra featuring Conductor Constantine Kitsopolous on Saturday January 6, 2019 at 3:00pm. Tickets range from $35-$125.
The Morris Museum Brings Back Exhibition On Screen series
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The Morris Museum brings back a film series from Exhibition on Screen beginning on Wednesday, December 12, 2018 with the feature film Degas: A Passion for Perfection. Two additional films will also be shown: Young Picasso, on Wednesday, February 13, 2019 and Rembrandt on Wednesday, April 10, 2019. All films will be screened at 7:30pm in the Bickford Theatre.
A Look At New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program In Cinema Studies, presents the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 which marks the festival's 37th Anniversary. The Festival will take place between January 25 and March 1, 2019. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, experimental and short subjects, classic revivals, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2019 will feature over 35 film screenings.
NJPAC Presents Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert With The NJSO
(NEWARK, NJ) -- The Harry Potter Film Concert Series returns to New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Live in Concert, on Saturday, June 1, 2019 at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. See the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra perform the magical score live while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.
Kean Stage Hosts "White Christmas" Sing-Along
(UNION, NJ) -- Kean Stage hosts a White Christmas Sing-Along on Sunday, December 16 at 3:00pm. Gather your family and friends for this beloved 1954 holiday film starring Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen. You’ll enjoy singing along to Count Your Blessings, Snow, Sisters and, of course, the iconic White Christmas. And don’t worry if you don’t know the words – the lyrics will be shown on the screen.
REVIEW: "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald"
For better or worse (worse in this writer’s eyes), the success of the Harry Potter franchise is largely responsible for the current Hollywood landscape of endless sequels, prequels and that awful phrase “universe building.” The Potter films showed Hollywood that it was a far safer financial model to hook audiences into returning for instalments of an ongoing series rather than taking a punt on the unknown quantity of original properties.
Earlier this year, writer/director extraordinaire Hirokazu Kore-eda surprised us with The Third Murder, a legal thriller that made for a stark departure from the sentimental family dramas he’s become known for. With his Palme d’Or winning Shoplifters, Kore-eda is back on familiar ground, but this particular family drama shares much in common with The Third Murder. With his thriller, Kore-eda deconstructed the genre, forcing us to question how willingly we place our trust in a storyteller. Similarly, Shoplifters sees Kore-eda lull his audience into a false sense of security, making us develop a warmth and affection towards people who may not warrant such empathy.
REVIEW: "First Man"
The image that most defines the 20th century is that of a man standing on the surface of the moon. The man is astronaut Neil Armstrong, but we can’t see his face as he’s wearing a helmet, the glass of which reflects our collective achievement back at us. When he took a small step, we all took a giant leap with him, and Armstrong instantly became more than a mere man, a symbol. With First Man, director Damien Chazelle takes us inside the famous helmet, stripping away the symbol to tell the story of Armstrong the man.
In 2013, John Carpenter’s Halloween received a 35th anniversary blu-ray release. The accompanying booklet credited the following line of dialogue to Jamie Lee Curtis’s babysitting heroine Laurie Strode: “Was it the boogeyman?” Of course, that’s a misquote. In the scene in question, Laurie admits to herself that “It WAS the boogeyman,” to which Donald Pleasence’s Doctor Loomis solemnly replies, “As a matter of fact, it was.”
REVIEW: "Cold War"
Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.