MAMMY WATER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rouch’s 1955 documentary short on the “surf boys” of the Fante people on the Gulf of Guinea
offers a fascinating glimpse at the lives of these canoe-borne fishermen and their com-
munities. Attributing a disappointing fishing season and the death of their sea priestess
to the sea’s anger, the fishermen carry out a ritual sacrifice to “Mammy Water,” the spirit
of the Pra River, asking her to bring them the sea’s forgiveness. After the sacrifice, the “surf
boys” head back out into the Gulf for two-day fishing expeditions. While one of Jean Rouch’s
more conventional ethnographic films, Mammy Water is notable for its exquisite photography
and its innovative soundtrack, with Rouch’s own informative voiceover eventually giving
way to wordless direct sound, letting the hypnotic spectacle of the canoes riding the waves
do all the talking.

DIRECTOR
Jean Rouch

SCREENPLAY
Jean Rouch

DETAILS
Documentary
French
19 min.
France, Ghana, 1956
DCP, DVD, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Icarus Films

PRICE RANGE
$150 (when booked together with LES MAITRES FOUS, $200 for both films)