“My name is hard to bear. It means group of wizards. Originally, he just meant man of science. Then, he became a man devoted to the occult sciences. In the West, it’s Satan, Lucifer… “, explains Baloji, with a mischievous look. Known as a rapper, it is as a filmmaker that he receives journalists at the Salon des Ambassadeurs in Cannes. His film Augurselected at Cannes in Un certain regard, is screened this Monday.
Baloji, tall, not far from two meters, comes from afar. “I look more like a basketball player than a filmmaker!”, he laughs. He left his country very young, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and more precisely Lubumbashi “because of political issues. Arrived in Belgium, he took up music with some success and later… short films, visible online. “It’s not easy to enter the world of cinema. I didn’t go to any school. The financial counters are cautious, when they are not categorically in refusal”, laments Baloji, Tshiani of his patronymic name. Result: he manages to raise only one million euros to shoot his first feature film.
The man counts and recounts his budget to the nearest penny and arrives at an incompressible result: he has 23 days of filming. Except that the unforeseen are linked in Lubumbashi. At the end of all his efforts, a selection at Un certain regard. “It gives me relative visibility. Festivals started contacting me,” rejoices whoever claims to claim “magical realism”. His first film, Augure, is in this vein. It is somewhat hybrid or multifaceted. Baloji surprises the viewer. After an almost classic start, the film swings into another dimension. The character travels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to introduce his parents to his pregnant wife, played by Lucie Debay. The reunion does not go as planned. Then, suddenly, the film shifts into something else. “The idea leads to the form”, decides the Belgian filmmaker of Congolese origin.
Gifted with synesthesia, Baloji associates colors with musical notes. This can be seen in its aesthetics. We feel a thorough work on each image, each plan, each costume. Augur is an explosion of colors and light. At the same time stylist, screenwriter and dialogue writer, the young quadra had a very precise idea of his film, before the shooting. The result is an original, personal work. Augur is a choral film with a quadruple narration. “Before the shooting of the film, I made a soundtrack in four albums written from the point of view of the four main characters of the film”, explains the filmmaker-musician. Augure, a film that addresses both reason and emotion.
Title : Augur
Directing, screenplay, dialogue: Baloji
Duration : 90 minutes
Year of production : 2023
Distribution : Marc Zinga, Lucie Debay, Eliane Umuhire and Yves-Marina Gnahoua
Summary: Koffi is considered a zabolo (sorcerer), Koffi was banished by his mother. After 15 years of absence, he returns to Lubumbashi to pay his dowry. Accompanied by his future wife Alice, he will confront the prejudices and suspicion of his family.