Chelsea Odufu + Emann Odufu
USA (Guyanese Heritage)
Narrative Short | 2016
VENUE: Moray House // May 31, 2017 // 7:00 PM
SYNOPSIS: “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.
About the Filmmakers:
Often considered a renaissance woman, Chelsea Odufu is a filmmaker and art activist whose mission is to use art as a tool to regenerate positive and empowering images of Blackness on screen. A Newark, New Jersey native with Guyanese and Nigerian roots, Chelsea’s work focuses on narratives that explore the complex Black identity, while portraying issues such as colorism, alcoholism, the stigmas of Black spirituality, gender and sexuality. Chelsea’s work seeks to dismantle mental slavery something still affecting many African Diasporic people today. Chelsea previously worked at MTV, Nickelodeon, Universal Music Group and with many popular music artists, but found her true love is narrative filmmaking. Through her films, Chelsea likes to give voice to the voiceless. On her return from Ghana she was moved to create short films such as “The Love Below” and riveting videos such as “Stay Woke” which have gained a lot of attention.
Upon graduating from New York University’s esteemed Tisch School of The Arts as a Martin Luther King scholar, due to her proven academic excellence, leadership abilities, and passion for social justice, Chelsea hit the ground running with the creation of her film Ori Inu: In Search of Self with her brother Emann. This film has won best short film at the Newark International Film Festival and Chelsea has also been nominated for best director at upcoming film festivals. Articles about the film have been featured on NBC News, Huffington Post, Afropunk, Saint Heron, OkayAfrica and many more. The creation of Ori Inu film merged with her passion for social justice and community development launched her speaking career in 2015. Since then, Chelsea has spoken at universities such as Yale, Dartmouth, Columbia, Vassar, NYU, Wesleyan to name a few, giving speeches, leading artistic interactive discussions and workshops centered around identity, Black representation in film and TV, Afrofuturism and her latest film Ori Inu: In Search of Self.
Shortly after graduation Chelsea was offered a job by honorary Oscar award winning filmmaker Spike Lee to work on a number of his projects including Chi-Raq and is currently working with him on his new Netflix series She’s Gotta Have it. Chelsea’s work as an art activist encourages people to be proud of their cultural roots and to stand firm in their truth. In future, Chelsea hopes to continue making work that will start conversations about difficult topics in the diaspora as only through communication will there be change.
Emann Odufu is an art activist and conceptual artist whose focus is media representation, but specifically social media and how it is the most accurate gauge of US cultural reality in the modern digital age. His art practice is multi- disciplinary spanning photography, film, sound, music, writing, sculpture and collage, all exploring the complexities of identity and race within the globalized and interconnected world in which we live. His writings on Afro-Futurism have been published by both Okay Africa and Atlanta Black Star.
Most recently Emann toured 36 US cities across the country with famed visual artist, Hank Willis Thomas’s public art project “In Search Of The Truth. This project is a transmedia project and anthropological study, which toured around the country to find out what the truth is to Americans in 2016. As a result, he was able to converse with Americans from all walks of life during this crucial period of American history about the pressing issues of the time, police brutality, race, the 2016 elections and more.
In 2015, he co-wrote and produced the film ORI INU: In Search of Self with his sister Chelsea, and through the film was able to speak at some of the top institutions and universities around the country. This film has won best short film at the Newark International Film Festival and is now beginning the film festival circuit around the country and abroad.
Emann has worked for the White Privilege Conference, a conference that has been around for 16 years. This conference fosters conversation on privilege and identity in our society. Working for this conference for 3 years enabled him to forge bonds with the national activism community. Prior to this he worked as a community organizer in his hometown of Newark, NJ helping to reform the education system in his city. He studied film production and screen writing at both Sarah Lawrence College and the New School University where he graduated in 2012.
Guyanese Heritage Filmmakers