Sacred Water

Directed by Olivier Jourdain

60 minutes / Color
Kinyarwanda / English subtitles
Release: 2018
Copyright: 2017

"If a lot of water flows, the town will be flooded. The water company can close down. We have all the water we need." —Fanny, guest on Flash-FM in Rwanda

Vestine Dusabe is a radio host and sex educator with a mission: promoting sexual pleasure and preserving Rwanda’s culture of female ejaculation.

SACRED WATER follows Dusabe as she takes calls on her late-night radio show (including one in which a woman has a very vocal orgasm), speaks to school-girls about ejaculation and female pleasure as central to Rwandan culture, and addresses a crowd on International Women’s Day to discuss orgasms.

film still

Rwandan legend has it that female ejaculation originates with an ancient queen who experienced earth-shaking orgasm while her husband was away at war, producing enough water to fill enormous Lake Kivu.

In SACRED WATER individual men and women, teenage girls, and couples discuss women’s orgasms frankly, often with a strong dose of humour – a guest on Dusabe’s radio show refers to the clitoris as "the Eiffel Tower." Women say men enjoy and expect them to ejaculate, and that "finding the water" guards against infidelity. Men see women’s ejaculation as a sign of their prowess, and a way to make sure they are pleasuring their partners. Meanwhile, girls learn about the practice of gukuna—stretching the inner labia—and some wonder if it is a sin.

In interviews on the street, in couples’ homes, and—perhaps most memorably—in a swimming hole, men and women share their thoughts and experiences with kunyaza. The filmmakers cleverly intersperse shots that are evocative but not explicit throughout the film: men straining as they row across a lake, water rushing over rocks, people jumping into a pool and engulfed in splashes, young men and women sweating as they work out in a gym.

SACRED WATER is a refreshing, fun, and honest documentary about sex, relationships, and the particularities of Rwandan sexual culture.

"Delightful! Inspires many wonderful questions about Rwandan history and society." Gillian Frank, Ph.D., Princeton University and co-host of Sexing History

"The practice of 'kunyaza,' female ejaculation, has become a kind of sexual norm in Rwanda in stark contrast to a global sexuality aimed at the satisfaction of men." Matthieu Rostac, Slate

"A respectful ode to female pleasure, with a sense of humor and not a trace of embarrassment."
Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival (IDFA)

"The most beautiful thing in the world is discussed surprisingly frankly and confidently—along with gender relations."DOK Leipzig

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A film by Olivier Jourdain

Select Accolades

  • Best in Show Award, 2018 National Media Market
  • Audience Award, New Directors/New Films Festival 2017
  • Audience Award and Most Innovative Documentary, Sole Luna Doc Palermo 2017
  • Best Film and Young Director, 2017 Espiello Festival Internacional de Documental Etnográfico de Sobrarbe
  • Best Sound and Editing Award, 2017 SIMA Social Impact Media Awards
  • Best Film and Audience Award, Mostra Internacional de Cine Etnográfico 2017
  • Special Mention, 2017 HumanDoc Warsaw 2017
  • Next Masters Competition, DOK Leipzig 2016 


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