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Teaser Trailer For 'Oya: Rise of the Orishas' - Project Resurrecting Orishas As Modern Day Superheroes

by Tambay A. Obenson
March 14, 2014 5:50 PM
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How fast time flies; It feels like it was just a few months ago when I first wrote about this upcoming project. 

But it was actually a full year ago - February 2013!

And a year later, a first teaser trailer for the film has surfaced, which I received in my email inbox this morning!

First, let's get caught up... for those who are just joining us, and also as a refresher for others.

I've previously said on Twitter and Facebook that any one, or any few from the pantheon of Orishas will make for great fodder for a feature film - whether a literal translation, or (getting creative) as superheroes, especially as Hollywood seems to be superhero movie happy right now.

The time is right for a filmmaker to take something like this on! And a filmmaker is doing just that (there of course might be others I don't know about).

British filmmaker Nosa Igbinedion is that filmmaker. And his film is titled Oya: Rise of the Orishas.

Here's a description of the project:

The film resurrects mythical deities from African folklore, known as Orishas, into modern-day superheroes in Britain. The film will be presented In a visually unique style drawing inspiration from related genres, including sci-fi, action and martial arts and presenting a truly phenomenal spectacle in the art of film. According to the Yoruba religion of Nigeria Orishas are a collective of charismatic deities with specialised supernatural gifts, powers and responsibilities.  Tradition has it that these supernatural beings once walked the earth with humanity. We will tell a story that has not been heard before and discover worlds that have not yet been explored in Black British Cinema. These rich worlds and stories have been carried in peoples' minds for millennia and told mostly orally. Amazingly, this culture has not been visualised on the British silver screen, until now.

It actually really hasn't been explored in American cinema either as well - certainly not Hollywood studio cinema! There've been indie documentaries that touch on the subject, but I can't immediately recall a feature-length fiction film that has.

And the pantheon of Orishas is deep! Eshu, Obatala, Ogun, Oshun, Shango, and countless others - each, as Nosa notes in his above description, with their own individual powers and responsibilities - a perfect set up for any filmmaker to get creative with. A nice chunk of your work is already done!

I should also note that you'll find Orisha lineages all over the Diaspora, not just in Nigeria (see South America and the Caribbean especially).

By the way, Oya, the Orisha in the title of Nosa's upcoming film, is considered a warrior, and some of her powers are really not all that different from Storm of the X-Men. Oya can control the weather; but she can do, and is responsible for much more than that. She's considered very powerful, even indestructible, and is believed to have been romantically-linked to both Ogun and Shango.

To make this project happen, Nosa (who's actually a visuals effects pro, by the way, which should assist here) took to Indiegogo to raise money, and drew just over $6,600, although his goal was to raise $7,500; but thankfully Indiegogo, unlike Kickstarter, lets you keep what you raise, even if you don't reach your goal. 

Nosa's plan was/is to produce a short version of what will eventually become a feature-length film, as we've seen other filmmakers do repeatedly in the past, which he'll then use to raise money for the feature.

This is an approach I've always championed - especially if you're a relatively unknown filmmaker. Show them what you can do first; win over their confidence; and then, hopefully, they'll want to invest in you.

So this is just a prelude to what's coming down the pike.

He's already created a website for the project HERE; a Facebook page HERE; and a Twitter account HERE. So you can follow the project's progress.

Ethosheia Hylton stars in the film.

And without further ado, here's a teaser look at the upcoming short version of Oya: Rise of the Orishas:

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More: Nosa Igbinedion, Ethosheia Hylton

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  • QB | March 22, 2014 4:30 PMReply

    Old "Gods" have been made into superheroes for a long time. Maybe not too many people still worship Thor or Hercules, but I still don't see why folks are so upset. And "Jesus" and other Biblical characters have been depicted in various forms in entertainment, often in ways that offended some Christians so the Orishas certainly don't get a pass. How about waiting til it comes out to find out if it truly disrespected your faith, or just used a popular medium to introduce an African spiritual concept? BTW the Brazilian film Besouro (aka The Assailant) dealt with Orishas beautifully.

  • Nadja | March 22, 2014 8:30 PM

    Contrary to the descriptions in the film, Oya is not just strength and lightening. She is the deep sea. As such, she is both deep creativity and debilitating madness. Those that she rides and those that serve her know both. It is a sacrifice for them. Think that will be depicted in the film?

  • Anamorphosis | March 22, 2014 1:27 PMReply

    I agree that this film is disrespectful to the Yoruba tradition. If Oya were really studied by the creator of this film, they would know she is nothing like Storm and to make any comparison with any superhero is laughable. Of course practitioners of this religion are going to be upset. Think how upset Christians and Jews would be if you selected characters from the Bible and made a superhero team out of them and then compared Jesus to the Flash and Moses to Aquaman. People would be upset and any film company would know the risk is to big to make the film and would drop it like a hot potato. But since people who practice Yoruban traditions are not really respected (apparently) no one seems to care about offending their very old faith and trivializing it.

  • Mike Ross | March 22, 2014 12:30 AMReply

    This looks interesting.

    If you need a DP with a Red Epic, I'd take an interest…

  • Marie | March 17, 2014 9:39 AMReply

    I just watched the preview at work with the sound off. Is it supposed to be funny?

  • filmloverladyeo | March 16, 2014 5:42 PMReply

    OMG! Can we get past the recycled greek-like clothing and wear something African! Calling on the Orisha, can our minds move out of Europe!

  • Aaron | March 16, 2014 11:17 AMReply

    I'm glad to see this film come to light. Partly because I want to make sure that the script I'm working on regarding the Orisas is not the same as what they have put together and Thank God it isn't and not even close. I look forward to watching this film when it finally releases.

  • Aaron | March 16, 2014 11:28 AM

    Due to be initiated into Obatala then Ifa, I want to bring justice to the Orishas and represent them correctly and not simply as some superheroes but Orisas sent to earth by the supreme creator Oludumare.

  • Ayandele | March 16, 2014 5:31 AMReply

    Nothing wrong with bringing these characters to the screen. Infact its high time. Hope they are rightly done. Yorubas have long made plays and TV series on these demi gods as super heroes. Duro Ladipo's Oba Koso readily comes to mind which was about how Shango became the God of Thunder. And I remember many Yoruba TV plays based on the many confrontations between Ogun and Shango. Others are already milking these Orishas for stories anyway. lets get on it.

  • Monique a Williams | March 15, 2014 6:44 PMReply

    Christians worship a Zombie, why not Yoruba's and Black XMen? #ready

  • Alton-Raul Osayemi | March 15, 2014 4:59 PMReply

    Again, people. These are nothing more than opinions. My (or anyone else for that matter) disagreeing with the depiction is obviously not going to prevent the Indie film from coming out. We are entitled to our feelings about said matter as well as those that are in full support. Some of yous seem to be a little tight because some (a very few) don't agree with you. The religion has (in the U.S. and Caribbean at least) has already been on a downward spiral due to internal issues/corruption, so some of us (Fundamentalists) are just concerned about orisa image. Chill, you're gonna get your movie, but not everyone has to like it.

  • Troy | March 15, 2014 3:07 PMReply

    This movie is not mainstream and will not be seen by that many people. The auteur and the religion should have nothing to fear from each other. However if you do feel threatened maybe you should make an educated attack/protest to the actual filmmakers and not on blog they are not associated with. Someone should make a movie about people who respond to articles online as if the subject of the article is the article or writer of said article. What makes people think like that?

  • | March 16, 2014 12:19 PM

    "This movie is not mainstream and will not be seen by that many people..." which is more the reason for me to wanna see it

  • T.M | March 15, 2014 2:20 PMReply

    to Esu Miwa : No, the orisha is not God, - although I do find this film offensive, you have to realise that an Orisha is not a God but an Orisha hence the name, the Orishas are subject to Oludumare which is the Yoruba version of a most high god. If anything they are demi gods and are worshipped as such. I am not sure where you are from but I am Yoruba and I just would like to educate you on that little fact.

  • Manny Leon | March 15, 2014 1:59 PMReply

    Your faith is fickle indeed if it can be challenged by fictitious characters you see on tv. Even though x-men's Storm character does not go by the name Oya. Isn't it obvious where the characters inspiration draws from? If the characters in this film Rise of the Irisha are well presented, I believe they will inspire reverence for the Orishas rather than trivialize your faith. Give the film a chance.

  • DDawn | March 15, 2014 1:16 PMReply

    Gods incarnate. When they do, they ARE super heros. I am EAGERLY awaiting this one, and I will support it in EVERY WAY POSSIBLE.

  • Alton-Raul Osayemi | March 15, 2014 9:59 AMReply

    I'm sorry forum, but in this case I'm in agreement with Esu Miwa. Not because a movie is being made about orisa, but because of the manner they are being introduced to The Public. The orisa are NOT superheroes, and for their firs mainstream depiction to be as such just makes it that much harder for our practice to be taken seriously. It's already difficult enough for me to try and explain even the basic principles of Orisa to people. So IMO this movie will make it seem as we are "worshiping black X-Men". Get mad, but this is how peoples' mentalities are. They will immediately dumb orisa down to their most basic representation on film, and Oyá will become just that....The Black "Storm". Adeola, Hollywood depictions of Roman/Greek gods actually HAS trivialized them and reduced them to caricatures/ super heroes/villains. I feel horrible for those left (if anyone) that still pay reverence and have to contend with society's warped image of them. Had this movie been written in a more "grounded" manner, maybe something historical, then Im sure we "Fundamentalists" wouldn't have a problem. There are COUNTLESS stories are Oya's interactions with her people as well as the other orisa, some even flow into one another. Why not make a "serious" movie based on that (similar to the old Shaka Zulu series, which had a lot of inaccuracies but at least showed the Zulu's history in a realistic manner). Nyoil, Jesus's depiction in mainstream as "white" started in a similar manner, albeit for much different reasons. Someone took the liberty to depict him that way to fit their personal image(s) and no one ever stopped it. Now majority of the world thinks Jesus was blond with blue eyes. I personally don't want people viewing something I take very seriously, as mere "Power Rangers", (to which an uneducated friend of mine equates them all because she only knows their "powers" and colors). Ethan, had Orisa Practice already had a reputable/(positively)recognized tradition to the masses (not just the masses of people who practice it) then I would be all for this. Look what happened to Vodun. It was a unknown religion (to the public) the first mainstream depiction was "The Serpent and The Rainbow" and we've been working HARD to show the positive side ever since. None of us are going to agree on this, but we're all entitled to our opinions and reasoning for them. I really feel this film will be a detriment to the (image) of orisa and subsequently the culture, rather than a boon.

  • blah, blah | March 15, 2014 9:32 PM

    Another possibility is that some of those unaware folks, particularly young people, will be so enthralled by the imagery that they might go on and research the true history themselves.

  • Alton-Raúl | March 15, 2014 9:26 AMReply


  • Belle Iya Pepple | March 15, 2014 5:14 AMReply

    People like you Esu Miwa are exactly what is wrong with religion today. Coming out guns blazing whenever something doesn't meet your fundamentalist ideals. You went completely off when you start taking lines from a film and literarily interpreting it to stir s@%€.
    Whatever else is making you angry in life, take several seats and sort yourself out!
    Bring on Oya Rise of the Orishas! Can't wait to see more of this...

  • Ronald T. Jones | March 15, 2014 3:37 AMReply

    Chill, Esu Miwa. I for one am greatly looking forward to Orishas. European gods and demigods have long been celebrated in the form of Thor, Hercules and Apollo. Too many of us have been taught to venerate an omnipotent being bearing the face of a Northern European. Now, here is an opportunity for the world to witness African beings of great power and ability achieving fantastic superheroic feats. Detractors would rather see us menials, domestics, thugs and buffoons. I gave my support to this film and I'll be damned if the spectacular images of African heroism be denied a glorious cinematic introduction! Orishas has hooked me. Orishas rule!!!!

  • Floyd Webb | March 15, 2014 12:51 AMReply

    The Orishas were introduced beautifully in the mythical Brazilian Capoeira film Besouro aka The Assailant (2012). Besouro is a great film.

  • Esu Miwa | March 14, 2014 11:29 PMReply

    The Orisha is God. Not super heroes, not overly powerful beings. They are God. They are worshiped by millions across the globe. People have Faith, and their Faith is proven time and time again. You are trivializing Our religion so you can make a buck. At the very least have the decency to be honest about your base carnal motives: you want to make a buck over sensationalizing your fear as a monotheist.

    The Orisha "are not dying to meet" anyone, They do not need to die, they are everlasting. Long after you are dust, they will be here trying to convince humanity to live good lives.

    And for the record, yours is hardly the first time the Orishas have been on screen. Again, you wallow in your ignorance and portray it as THE TRUTH.

    Succeed or fail makes no difference to me. Just know the consequences of your "film" is nothing but denigration, fear mongering, and hate peddling. Something I am sure you are proud of.

  • Toyin M | March 15, 2014 1:43 PM

    No, the orisha is not God, - although I do find this film offensive, you have to realise that an Orisha is not a God but an Orisha hence the name, the Orishas are subject to Oludumare which is the Yoruba version of a most high god. If anything they are demi gods and are worshipped as such. I am not sure where you are from but I am Yoruba and I just would like to educate you on that little fact.

  • Ayizan Sakpata | March 15, 2014 8:10 AM

    Esu Miwa you're absolutely right. It's sad that many of the people who are arguing with you are using the logic that since the white people did it with their gods it's ok. They have slave mentalities. The Greek and Roman pantheons are dead and seen as fake. No one honors those "gods." The orishas are honored all over the world as gods, not superheroes. This film is disrespectful and childish.

  • NYOIL | March 15, 2014 5:59 AM

    You're a fool.
    This film.. will bring awareness and curiosity to thousands that have NO IDEA of what an Orisha is. Much less worship.

    Stop taking your little bit of understanding and over Zelotry so serious.

    Black men and women NEED HEROS of their own.. the trick with this is to allow it to be an introduction.. and then translate that and introduce the REAL religion to folks.

    You sound like a Hipster .. all zenophobic with Orisha vs being intelligent and strategic in the opportunity to introduce it to a wider audience.

    Jesus isn't white.. but scores of movies are made with him being depicted as white.. and despite the inaccuracy these movies do an amazing job of recruiting people to Christ. Blacks especially..

    why am I wasting my time trying to explain this.. I'm trying to explain color and gradient to a blind man.

  • Adeola Onabanjo | March 15, 2014 3:38 AM

    Several works of art have being done loosely based on the perceptions of Greek and Roman gods and mythology. Has this trivialised those religions/culture/tradition? I think not! Rather it has made them mainstream while our own Orisha religion, culture and tradition continue demonized.
    I am an a devotee of Ogun. And I am at peace with this. I support it. It is a work of art. It doesn't claim to be 'truth'. But it is a work of art that gives our religion and culture a voice.

  • ethan Ayo | March 15, 2014 2:31 AM

    Calm your guns Esu! This is only a work of FICTION inspired by a great tradition. Did you read the article backwards? Jeez!

  • QB | March 14, 2014 8:47 PMReply

    The Brazilian film "Besouro" depicts several Orishas. In North America it was released under the incredibly bland title of "The Assailant".

  • ethan Ayo | March 15, 2014 2:33 AM

    That reply was on the wrong tread. Sorry

  • ethan Ayo | March 15, 2014 2:26 AM

    Calm your guns. This is a work of FICTION that is simply inspired by a great tradition. Did you read the article backwards? Jeez!

  • other song | March 14, 2014 6:32 PMReply

    looking forward to it.

  • ethan Ayo | March 15, 2014 2:28 AM

    Sorry meant to reply to comment above yours. Besuoro is fantastic i agree

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