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Omen Trailer Reveals the African Witchcraft of Acclaimed Cannes Film


Summary

  • Utopia has released the North American trailer for the supernatural drama film, Omen, which follows a Congolese man returning to his birthplace to confront family issues.
  • The trailer showcases tense moments intertwined with a narrative of fractured family dynamics, creating an atmosphere of anxiety and dread in the Cannes award winning film.
  • Baloji, the director of Omen, draws inspiration from his life experiences and his name’s Swahili meaning, reflecting the film’s exploration of identity and culture. The film has received positive reviews and has been selected as Belgium’s entry for the Best International Feature Film category at the Academy Awards.


Utopia has unveiled the North American trailer for its supernatural drama, Omen. The film, which marks the directorial feature debut of hip-hop artist turned filmmaker Baloji, follows Koffi (Marc Zinga), a young Congolese man who — after living in Belgium for years — returns to his birthplace of Kinshasa with his pregnant fiancée (Lucie Debay) to confront enduring issues with his family. Koffi’s familial conflicts date back to his childhood: after his mother decided that a birthmark was a sign he was a sorcerer, he was banished to Belgium. The trailer, which you can watch below, teases a tense tale that integrates cultural beliefs with fractured family dynamics.

The short trailer is replete with atmospheric moments: in the scene where he introduces his fiancé to his family (which is a bit reminiscent of Jordan Peele’s 2010s horror masterpiece Get Out), a sense of anxiousness can be felt through the screen. After Koffi suffers a nose bleed and spills blood on a child, the family’s heightened sense of fright points to a much deeper conflict. And things only escalate from there.

Baloji’s own life experiences inspired Omen, and even his name is a strong driving force in the film’s creation. In Swahili, Baloji initially meant “man of science,” but in colonial times, it was re-interpreted as “man of occult sciences” or, essentially, “sorcerer.” In an interview with Variety, while promoting Omen ahead of the Cannes Film Festival, Baloji shared:

“Some people of faith do not dare to say my name in public for fear of invoking evil spirits and the suspicions that may accompany it,” he said. “In such an animistic culture it is equivalent to being called devil or demon in the West.”

Related: The Best Movies that Take Place in Africa, Ranked


Praise for Baloji’s Omen

Utopia

Omen serves as an exploration of identity and culture and has amassed positive reviews, with critics labeling the film “intoxicating” and “artful and intriguing,” and often praising its powerful imagery.

Belgium has selected the film as its entry for the Academy Award’s Best International Feature Film category, following their last pick: Lukas Dhont’s Cannes-winning title Close. Omen shares a Cannes honor with Close; Omen debuted in the Un Certain Regard sidebar at Cannes 2023, receiving the New Vision Award. Baloji also earned the Best Director Award at the 2023 Sitges International Film Festival for his work on the film.

Check out Omen‘s official synopsis below:

“After spending years in Belgium, Koffi, a young Congolese man, returns to his birthplace of Kinshasa to confront his family and homeland culture. Secrecy and sorcery erupt when a nosebleed is mistaken for a curse, and Koffi is shunned from his family. Using magical realism to paint a portrait of ‘undesirables’ and ‘sorcerers,’ Omen delves into the intricacies of identity, culture, and belief systems through a deeply rich and visually captivating lens.”

The film is a Belgian-Dutch-Congolese-French-South African co-production, and stars Zinga, Debay, Eliane Umuhire, Yves-Marina Gnahoua, and Marcel Otete Kabeya. It is co-written by Baloji and Thomas van Zuylen and produced by Benoit Roiland, Sander Verdonck, and Emmanuel Lupia. Utopia will release Omen in theaters in early 2024, watch this space for more information.

Omen is scheduled for release in North America in 2024.



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