Plot via Sundance:
In the oceanside village of Iyi, the revered Mama Efe (Rita Edochie) acts as an intermediary between the people and the all-powerful water deity Mami Wata. But when a young boy is lost to a virus, Efe’s devoted daughter Zinwe (Uzoamaka Aniunoh) and skeptical protégé Prisca (Evelyne Ily Juhen) warn Efe about unrest among the villagers. With the sudden arrival of a mysterious rebel deserter named Jasper (Emeka Amakeze), a conflict erupts, leading to a violent clash of ideologies and a crisis of faith for the people of Iyi.
Mami Wata in West African Folklore is a multifaceted figure. She can be beauty, money, the ebb and flow of existence, water, mother. The name translates to Mother Water from pigden English used in the film written and directed by C.J. Obasi.
In Mami Wata she is mostly a personification of water and money, particularly the captiladtic corruption that comes when the isolated fictional village of Iyi is exposed to the outer world in the figure of Jasper who magically washes ashore like a water demon one night.
The film is shoot in a luminescent black and white by cinematographer Lilis Soares . She creates lovely textures, tones, framings revolving around water and beaches- effects that look like stain glass, water droplets, constellations and stars.
Director Obasi takes good advantage of his second set of eyes. The water and beach will take in different moods during days and nights. Often the horizon is filtered out, or filmed with different frames. Directional lighting creates faux horizons on walls and faces. It all adds to the sense of magic and myth being created.
Probably the most impressive element is the variety of African hairstyles on display. Costume designer Bunmi Demiola Fashina, key makeup artist Campbell Precious Arebamen, and key hair stylist Adefunke Olowu receive their own title cards in the end credits.
The story is a symbolically loaded tale of female power, male greed and lust for power centered on a powerful priestess named Mama Efe (Rita Edochie) and her two daughters, Zinwe (Uzoamaka Aniunoh) and Prisca (Evelyne Ily Juhen). They often remark on the heavy burden authority brings and what is the right way to exert and handle it. The conflict between matriarchy, tradition and progress will work themselves in the story.
Mami Wata is an impressive film and work of art in every detail.
Mami Wata gets a 3.5 out of 5, or a B+.
C.J. "FIERY" OBASI
C.J. "FIERY" OBASI
WEST AFRICAN PIDGIN
FIERY FILM COMPANY LTD