Directed by Jean Rouch • Documentary • 1956 • 18 minutes
In MAMMY WATER, Jean Rouch depicts the surf boys of the coastal village of Shama, at the foot of the Pra River. Their success is governed by water spirits ('Mammy Water'). When the catch is bad, villagers must honor the spirits with a ceremony if they wish to change their fortunes.
More strictly observational than most of Rouch's films, MAMMY WATER takes an intimate look at the spiritual traditions and the wider life of a West African fishing village.
"After a ritual sacrifice is held to appease the angry ocean spirits, fishermen return to shore with a copious catch, young boys play in the gentle waves of a now-tranquil ocean, and the voice declines to comment as the images are left to communicate the relaxed joy of the moment."—Matt Losada, Senses of Cinema