Beyond The Steam: Ovunda Ihunwo’s new Short Film strips the Vagina naked!

Ignorance is bliss. This saying readily comes to mind when one becomes sincerely disillusioned as the power of illuminating knowledge replaces the darkness of ignorance hitherto sustained by prevailing myths. There is probably no better way to express the overwhelming sense of relief that settles in one’s mind after (pre)viewing Dr. Ovunda Ihunwo’s new short film, ‘Beyond The Steam’.

The steaming hot, totally addictive movie explores the frustrations of a young couple and the growing tension between them arising from their own self-righteous but essentially wrong approach to issues centered on fertility, virility, child birth and mutual trust – issues confronting the peace and stability of millions of families today across Africa – issues for which, resorting to stereotypes and active assumptions, accusing fingers are often pointed at the vagina and the woman who owns it.

‘Beyond The Steam’ brings us face to face with the sympathetic predicament of Aleruchi and his lovely wife, Adanwo, who could not fathom the reason for Adanwo’s inability to conceive, nearly two years after marriage. Series of clinical investigations giving a clean bill to their reproductive health status, ironically makes their situation more complex and uncanny. Their courage to face the odds threatening their young matrimonial union and their passionate efforts to solve the riddle exposes their incredible ignorance regarding reproductive health issues centred around the vagina, even as adults, and becomes a mirror reflecting the collective bandwagon psyche driving the actions, fancies, fantasies and pathological idiosyncrasies responsible for countless offensives against the human vagina.

The vagina is, arguably, the most fascinating component of the female anatomy. What many people do not know, including most women, is that the human vagina is naturally imbued with its own character – its own nature to which disruptions can only create imbalances that are certain to result in anatomical dysfunctions and reproductive health issues tormenting most families today. This, perhaps, is Dr. Ihunwo’s central message expertly delivered with fluidity of language, humorous nuances and very brilliant acting. Speaking through one of the characters, Dr. Chikwe (Edward Imo), the director stresses the fact that “the vagina houses a delicate balance of vaginal flora, that is, organisms that live in the vagina and acidity. A balance of good and bad bacteria helps maintain the acidic environment of a healthy vagina. Any disruption to that balance can lead to yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis.”

The movie is so captivating that it is rather challenging locating who takes the ultimate credit for its compelling appeal – between the script writer, director, actors and other creative collaborators especially the cinematographer (Fortune Kezi) whose dexterity animated and energized the story in motion.

In all however, one of the greatest merits of the movie is the extensive research that preceded its production as evident in the lines of the actors. Inadequate research before hitting the set has been a reoccurring weakness found in most Nollywood flicks. Here, ‘Beyond The Steam’ scores a little more than 100% and takes us on an illuminating shuttle through the vaginal tunnel!

An encounter with this movie would leave one with medically accurate answers to questions on vaginal steaming or ‘douching’, bacterial vaginosis, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) and a lot of other occurrences which every woman and every couple and intending couple should be aware of on the journey through adulthood and parenting.

The movie invariably admonishes against the pervasive indulgence of self-medication which has ruined many lives and still wreaks havoc among those with the erroneous mindset that they do not need expert medical advice to handle peculiar health challenges.

Ovunda Ihunwo – a respected academic, total theatre practitioner, filmmaker and all-round entertainment professional – who objectively seeks to tell his stories via motion picture and the stage, is consistently becoming an icon of social action through the film and theatre media, employing avant-gardist techniques reminiscent of Christopher Nolan flicks, to zoom-in on serious topics that people tend to shy away from. His earlier works speak volumes in this regard. After stripping the vagina naked and exposing us to medically acceptable standards of vaginal care, where next shall he take us…?

For now, let us join him to look Beyond the Steam as the myth-bursting movie gets set to be released in a matter of days.

This short flick features some of the best actors from the University of Port Harcourt, the home that breeds stars from the famous CRAB. They include: Edward Imo, Prince Isaac, Sampson Emenike, Emmanuel Linus, Blessing Igweagu, Gloria Ogbuka, Koko Ofem and Favour Eze. Others are Justice Slik and Mary Kobani.

With the privilege of attempting this preview, I respectfully invite us to subscribe to Dr. Ihunwo’s YouTube channel to see some of his other works while anticipating this short, radical blockbuster.

Victor Nwokocha, Editor-in-Chief of African Heritage Times, writes from Port Harcourt.

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