Since wrapping production in January 2021, Mami Wata has been on a winning streak, racking up one success after another.
By Helena Olori
UK-based distribution company, Aya Films, has acquired rights to Sundance Award winning film, Mami Wata, and is set to release the film in the UK during the fall.
The film, which is the third feature project from Nigerian filmmaker, C.J. “Fiery” Obasi, had its world premiere at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema – Dramatic category, winning the Special Jury Award for Cinematography, led by Brazilian cinematographer, Lilis Soares. Shortly after, Mami Wata had its African premiere at FESPACO, where it won three awards.
In an exclusive with interview with Leo Barraclough for Variety, Obasi said, “I’m quite moved by Aya’s sensitivity to new forms of African storytelling, and how they seek to find its rightful place in the current world cinema conversation. This, for me, is what true love for cinema is all about, and I’m excited to be a part of the movement.”
The film, written and directed by CJ Obasi, and produced by Oge Obasi, is set in a West African village called Iyi where the villagers worship the mermaid deity “Mami Wata.” They rely on their revered healer, Mama Efe, her daughter Zinwe, and her protégé, Prisca, for spiritual guidance.
However, their peaceful existence is soon disrupted by the mysterious deaths and disappeances of children. Doubts spread among the villagers, fueled by one of the locals, Jabi. Overwhelmed by pain, Zinwe runs away. The situation worsens with the arrival of rebel warlord Jasper, who supports Jabi’s cause. Mama Efe is murdered, giving Jasper control over the village. Prisca and Zinwe must come together to save their land, and restore the glory of Mami Wata in Iyi.
Mami Wata boasts of cast and crew members from across 8 countries, including veteran Nollywood actress, Rita Edochie; Evelyne lly, Uzoamaka Aniunoh, Emeka Amakeze, Kelechi Udegbe, Sofiath Sanni, Idayatou Ibrahim, Monalisa Stephen, Merlin Tchoutcha, Jakob Kerstan, Clinton Ovunda, Orianne Azangban, amongst others.
Since wrapping production in January 2021, the film has been on a winning streak, racking up one success after another. Earlier in May this year, Dekanalog, a distribution company renowned for its track record of showcasing unique global filmmaking voices, picked up North American rights to Mami Wata, and will release the film theatrically in the US this fall as well, while international sales are helmed by Alief.
The film is currently having its rounds at festivals across Europe, and recently premiered at the ongoing Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. Most commendable for its unique representation of West African mermaid folklore and mythology in black and white, Mami Wata has already garnered considerable critical acclaim ahead of its highly anticipated theatrical releases.
Watch the UK teaser here.