With a few weeks to go until the original song for Oscars shortlist is released, Aotearoa, New Zealand-based Māori Artist Stan Walker (Tūhoe, Ngāi TeRangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pūkenga, Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Whakaue and Ngai Tahu) has released the video for the haunting original song created for Ava DuVernay‘s searing drama “Origin,”
“This summer, I was talking with my producing partner Paul Garnes about wanting something unexpected for an original song to end our film, ‘Origin.’ The next day, he showed me Stan’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ interpretation and I watched it four times, back to back. I jumped online and blessedly, we had a producer pal of mine, Chelsea Winstanley in common. I DMed Chelsea, and 24 hours later I was on the phone with Stan Walker,” DuVernay said.
Inspired by Isabel Wilkerson’s Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent,” the film boasts an all-star cast including Oscar nominee Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor (“King Richard”), Jon Bernthal and Niecy Nash-Betts.
The film follows Ellis-Taylor’s Isabel on her harrowing journey to write the bestseller as she navigates personal tragedy while exploring how throughout history, from India’s Dalit people to slavery and racism in America, the Holocaust and how caste systems have shaped societies.
DuVernay connected with Walker, trusting him to deliver the powerful song. Walker co-wrote “I Am” with Michale Fatkin, Vince Harder and Te Kanapu. Said DuVernay, “His spirit and creative energy shine through – even on a phone call from across the world. We discovered that we share the same belief — that art can change the world. That the stories we tell one another — through music and through movies — matter.”
Walker said in a statement to Variety, “‘I Am’ is my response to the film. It is about the reclamation, reconciliation and reconnection to our identity and the origins of who we are and where we come from. By knowing who we are we are then able to know where we are going. This is how we unlock our greatest power. ‘I Am’ is taking back the power and giving it back to the people”.
As previously announced, the song will vie for original song consideration. “Origin” opens in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 8 before going nationwide on Jan. 19, 2024.
Listen to the song below.
From Variety US