EXCLUSIVE: Belgian-Congolese rapper Baloji made waves at Cannes with Congo-set feature directorial debut Omen which world premiered in Un Certain Regard, winning the New Voice Prize.
Such was the buzz around the film that Utopia went on to acquire North American rights from Paris-based sales banner Memento International, for a theatrical release in 2024.
The company has unveiled the North American trailer for the drama, which has since been submitted as Belgium’s Best International Feature Film entry.
Taking inspiration from Baloji’s own life experiences, Omen stars Mark Zinga as a young man returning to his birthplace of the Democratic Republic of Congo with his pregnant fiancée (Lucie Debay) in the hope of mending ties with his estranged family.
Originally banished by his mother after she decided that a strange birthmark was a sign he was a sorcerer, the young man suffers a nosebleed shortly after arriving, immediately reconfirming the family’s suspicions.
The protagonist finds himself on a nightmarish, fantastical journey, laying bare the intricacies of identity, culture, and belief system.
Baloji was born in 1979 in the city of Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo but was raised and is based in Belgium.
His name refers to occult and evil forces.
In swahili, it initially meant “man of science,” but in colonial times it was re-interpreted as “man of occult sciences” or essentially, “sorcerer.” The director says this name has been both a burden and a driver of his artistic vision.