Augure,” the choral film by Belgian-Congolese director Baloji Tshiani, exploring the subject of witchcraft in Africa, was selected in the “Un Certain Regard” category at the 76th Cannes Film Festival. This film won the New Voices Award, marking a significant victory for the multi-talented director’s debut feature. This recognition holds great importance for the film and audiovisual industry in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific (ACP) countries. In fact, it is the first time that a film supported through cooperation between the ACP States Organization and the European Union has won an award on the famous Croisette.
The story takes place in a phantasmagorical Africa, specifically in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and follows four characters considered as witches and sorcerers. Among them is Koffi, who returns to Lubumbashi after a 15-year absence to fulfill his dowry. Accompanied by his future wife Alice, Koffi must confront the prejudices and suspicions of his family and community. The film traces the journey of these characters who, despite the obstacles, find a way to support each other and escape their assigned roles.
With this debut feature, Baloji Tshiani skillfully delves into the themes of superstition, traditions, and family relationships in Africa. This complex and poignant narrative is beautifully brought to life by the remarkable performances of Marc Zinga as Koffi and Lucie Debay as Alice. Their acting adds a captivating depth and genuine emotion to the entire story.
In a rapidly growing African film landscape, where visibility and international recognition continue to expand, “Augure” stands out as a significant contribution to this movement. The film highlights Baloji Tshiani’s emerging skill as a director and screenwriter, while the outstanding performances by Marc Zinga and Lucie Debay bring captivating depth and intensity to this daring work. By addressing complex themes and creating a rich and immersive world, “Augure” has the power to enchant audiences and provoke profound reflections on the subjects explored. It fits perfectly within the new wave of African cinema, offering a diversity of narratives and showcasing talented and inspiring voices from the region.
Augure was supported by the ACP-EU Culture programme through the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund.