In Rwanda, there is a tradition of female pleasure that undoes all the standards of Hollywood and most of the Western world combined. It is kunyaza, a practice that centres on that mythic holy grail of human sexuality: female ejaculation. According to local mythos, a warrior queen, unsatisfied by her husband, took a servant as a lover and was so pleased with him that she brought forth the great waters that eventually turned into Lake Kivu. Talk about one for the history books!
Sacred Water follows the charming Vestine, a Rwandan radio host on a mission to spread the gospel of kunyaza around the country and revive an important part of Rwanda’s cultural heritage. From callers describing (and sometimes enthusiastically performing) kunyaza, to informative lectures given to groups of schoolgirls and congregations of bashful husbands, Vestine is determined to ensure that the sacred water is preserved and honoured. Olivier Jourdain’s cheeky, playful and light-hearted film is as warm as its subjects. As he interviews doctors, youth, elders, and couples, it becomes evident that what is at the heart of kunyaza is connection and enjoyment — and a particular reverence for women and their bodies. As one man puts it, “if you learn it, everything will be OK!” You get the sense that he is probably right.
Scored by a vibrant Afro Beat soundtrack and steeped in lush imagery of the Rwandan countryside (complete with some playfully suggestive scenes of men fiercely canoeing up a river), Sacred Water is a joyful ode to one of the things that makes us most fundamentally human: our ability to experience physical pleasure. You’ll be hard-pressed not to leave the theatre with a smile on your face after this one. -PP