Using the codes of magic realism to create a virtuoso and spectacular mise-en-scène, Augure is a beautiful first film, portraying a contemporary Africa torn between tradition and modernity.
The first film by Congolese-born Belgian rapper Baloji, Augure takes as its starting point a return to his homeland, that of Koffi (Marc Zinga), who has returned to his native Congo after many years in Belgium. There, he met his white wife, Alice (Lucie Debay). She’s carrying their child. In Congo, Koffi wants to introduce his wife to his family. But for the young man torn between two cultures, the reunion isn’t easy. Some even accuse him of witchcraft.
In Swahili, the name “Baloji” means “sorcerer”. The artist was therefore destined to take up this theme. He has done so brilliantly, creating a highly visual film in which the codes of a traditional aesthetic come face to face with the modernity of a changing country. With its dense, complex narrative and multiple characters – many of them women – Augure is also a fascinating portrait of today’s Congo, where the importance of tradition and family often collide with the economic necessity of a solitary exodus to the West. In a way, this first feature-length film, which takes a new look at African cinema, is reminiscent of Faustin Linyekula’s “Histoire(s) du théâtre 2”, presented at the Festival d’Avignon 2019, which chronicled the creation of the Ballet National du Zaïre. Two mirrored works, like chronicles of the strange history of a country so enamoured of its traditions.
“Augure de Baloji”, in cinemas from November 22