The secret of iyas


Alidou, a musician from Benin, wonders about the Gèlèdè rite. He goes to Sagon, a Voodooist village in Benin, to the heart of a society where a woman called Iyalashè guides the spiritual heart of the people. Sharing the daily life of the villagers, he goes from meeting to meeting as he attempts to gain insight into the rites and beliefs maintained by The Iyas (witch mothers).  He is initiated and is able to partake in a rare and exceptional ceremony, learns and becomes aware of the unifying role of the Gèlèdè cult and there many challenges this unique element of societal glue is threatened by modernity. 

Director Biography

After studying in the documentary department at La Femis School in Paris Cyrill Noyalet worked for 10 years with the Nago-Yorouba community in Central Benin. His work is inspired by filmmaker Jean Rouch and his notion of an anthropologie partagée, or shared anthropology.  

Noyalet’s crew is made up of French and Benin professional technicians and a Benin theatre troupe. This interaction is a fundamental principal underpinning the film. With the help of this team, Noyalet began making a memorial at a time when modernity threatens to desacralize and folklorize traditional practices.