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Jean Rouch

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Jean Rouch
Jean Rouch.jpg
Born
Jean Rouch

(1917-05-31)31 May 1917
Paris, France
Died18 February 2004(2004-02-18) (aged 86)
NationalityFrench
Occupation(s)Filmmaker, anthropologist
Years active1947–2002
Notable workMoi, un noir (I, a Negro), Chronique d'un été (Chronicle of a Summer), La Chasse au lion à l'arc [fr] (Hunting the Lion with Bow and Arrow), Petit à petit [fr] (Little by Little)
Relatives
The French anthropologists Germaine Dieterlen (1903-1999) and Jean Rouch (1917-2004) with three of their local male informants, Sangha, Mali, 1980.
The French anthropologists Germaine Dieterlen (1903-1999) and Jean Rouch (1917-2004) with three of their local male informants, Sangha, Mali, 1980.

Jean Rouch (French: [ʁuʃ]; 31 May 1917 – 18 February 2004) was a French filmmaker and anthropologist.

He is considered one of the founders of cinéma vérité in France. Rouch's practice as a filmmaker, for over 60 years in Africa, was characterized by the idea of shared anthropology.[1][2] Influenced by his discovery of surrealism in his early twenties, many of his films blur the line between fiction and documentary, creating a new style: ethnofiction. The French New Wave filmmakers hailed Rouch as one of their own.

Commenting on Rouch's work as someone "in charge of research for the Musée de l'Homme" in Paris, Godard said, “Is there a better definition for a filmmaker?".[3][4][5][6]

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Filmmaking

Filmmaking

Filmmaking is the process by which a motion picture is produced. Filmmaking involves a number of complex and discrete stages, starting with an initial story, idea, or commission. It then continues through screenwriting, casting, pre-production, shooting, sound recording, post-production, and screening the finished product before an audience that may result in a film release and an exhibition. Filmmaking occurs in a variety of economic, social, and political contexts around the world. It uses a variety of technologies and cinematic techniques.

Anthropologist

Anthropologist

An anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present societies. Social anthropology, cultural anthropology and philosophical anthropology study the norms and values of societies. Linguistic anthropology studies how language affects social life, while economic anthropology studies human economic behavior. Biological (physical), forensic and medical anthropology study the biological development of humans, the application of biological anthropology in a legal setting and the study of diseases and their impacts on humans over time, respectively.

Cinéma vérité

Cinéma vérité

Cinéma vérité is a style of documentary filmmaking developed by Edgar Morin and Jean Rouch, inspired by Dziga Vertov's theory about Kino-Pravda. It combines improvisation with use of the camera to unveil truth or highlight subjects hidden behind reality. It is sometimes called observational cinema, if understood as pure direct cinema: mainly without a narrator's voice-over. There are subtle, yet important, differences between terms expressing similar concepts. Direct Cinema is largely concerned with the recording of events in which the subject and audience become unaware of the camera's presence: operating within what Bill Nichols, an American historian and theoretician of documentary film, calls the "observational mode", a fly on the wall. Many therefore see a paradox in drawing attention away from the presence of the camera and simultaneously interfering in the reality it registers when attempting to discover a cinematic truth.

Surrealism

Surrealism

Surrealism is a cultural movement that developed in Europe in the aftermath of World War I in which artists depicted unnerving, illogical scenes and developed techniques to allow the unconscious mind to express itself. Its aim was, according to leader André Breton, to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality", or surreality. It produced works of painting, writing, theatre, filmmaking, photography, and other media.

Ethnofiction

Ethnofiction

Ethnofiction refers to a subfield of ethnography which produces works that introduces art, in the form of storytelling, "thick descriptions and conversational narratives", and even first-person autobiographical accounts, into peer-reviewed academic works.

French New Wave

French New Wave

French New Wave is a French art film movement that emerged in the late 1950s. The movement was characterized by its rejection of traditional filmmaking conventions in favor of experimentation and a spirit of iconoclasm. New Wave filmmakers explored new approaches to editing, visual style, and narrative, as well as engagement with the social and political upheavals of the era, often making use of irony or exploring existential themes. The New Wave is often considered one of the most influential movements in the history of cinema.

Musée de l'Homme

Musée de l'Homme

The Musée de l'Homme is an anthropology museum in Paris, France. It was established in 1937 by Paul Rivet for the 1937 Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne. It is the descendant of the Musée d'Ethnographie du Trocadéro, founded in 1878. The Musée de l'Homme is a research center under the authority of various ministries, and it groups several entities from the CNRS. The Musée de l'Homme is one of the seven departments of the Muséum national d'histoire naturelle. The Musée de l'Homme occupies most of the Passy wing of the Palais de Chaillot in the 16th arrondissement. The vast majority of its collection was transferred to the Quai Branly museum.

Biography

Rouch began his long association with Nigerien subjects in 1941, when he arrived in Niamey as a French colonial hydrology engineer to supervise a construction project in Niger. There he met Damouré Zika, the son of a Songhai traditional healer and fisherman, near the town of Ayorou, on the Niger River.[7] After ten Sorko workers were killed by lightning at a construction depot Rouch supervised, Zika's grandmother, a famous possession medium and spiritual advisor, presided over a ritual for men, which Rouch later claimed sparked his desire to make ethnographic film.[8] He became interested in Zarma and Songhai ethnology, filming Songhai rituals and ceremonies. Rouch sent his work to his teacher Marcel Griaule, who encouraged him to continue it.

Shortly afterward, Rouch returned to France to participate in the Resistance. After the war, he did a brief stint as a journalist with Agence France-Presse before returning to Africa, where he became an influential anthropologist and sometimes controversial filmmaker.[9]

Zika and Rouch became friends. In 1950, Rouch started to use Zika as the central character of his films, registering the traditions, culture, and ecology of the people of the Niger River valley. The first film in which Zika appeared was Bataille sur le grand fleuve (1950–52), portraying the life, ceremonies and hunting of Sorko fishermen. Rouch spent four months travelling with Sorko fishermen in a traditional pirogue.[10][11]

His early films, such as Hippopotamus Hunt (Chasse à l'Hippopotame, 1946), Cliff Cemetery (Cimetière dans la Falaise, 1951), and The Rain Makers (Les Hommes qui Font la Pluie, 1951), were traditional, narrated reports, but he gradually became more innovative.[12]

Rouch made his first films in Niger: Au pays des mages noirs (1947), Initiation à la danse des possédés (1948) and Les magicians de Wanzarbé (1949), all of which documented Songhai spirit possession rituals and the Zarma and Sorko peoples living along the Niger River. He is generally considered the father of Nigerien cinema.[13] Despite arriving as a colonialist in 1941, Rouch remained in Niger after independence and mentored a generation of Nigerien filmmakers and actors, including Zika.

During the 1950s, Rouch began to produce longer ethnographic films. In 1954 he cast Zika in Jaguar as a young Songhai man traveling for work to the Gold Coast. Three men dramatized their real-life roles in the film, and became the first three actors of Nigerien cinema. Zika helped reedit the film, originally a silent ethnographic piece, into a feature-length movie somewhere between documentary and fiction (docufiction), and provided dialogue and commentary for a 1969 release. In 1957 Rouch directed Moi, un noir in Côte d'Ivoire with the young Nigerien filmmaker Oumarou Ganda, who had recently returned from French military service in Indochina. Ganda became the first great Nigerien film director and actor. By the early 1970s, Rouch, with cast, crew, and co-writing from his Nigerien collaborators, was producing full-length dramatic films in Niger, such as Petit à petit [fr] (Little by Little : 1971) and Cocorico Monsieur Poulet [fr] ("Cocka-doodle-doo Mr. Chicken": 1974).

Many African filmmakers rejected Rouch's and others' ethnographic films produced in the colonial era for distorting reality. Rouch is considered a pioneer of Nouvelle Vague and visual anthropology, and the father of ethnofiction. His films are mostly cinéma vérité, a term Edgar Morin used in a 1960 France-Observateur article referring to the Kino-Pravda newsreels of Dziga Vertov. Rouch's best-known film, one of the central works of the Nouvelle Vague, is Chronique d'un été (1961), which he filmed with sociologist Edgar Morin and portrays the social life of contemporary France. Throughout his career, he reported on life in Africa. Over the course of five decades, he made almost 120 films.

Rouch and Jean-Michel Arnold founded an international documentary film festival, the Cinéma du Réel, at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 1978.

In 1996, following the election of Nelson Mandela, Rouch visited the Centre for Rhetoric Studies at the University of Cape Town at Philippe-Joseph Salazar's invitation. He gave two lectures on his work and shot some footage in the Black townships with his assistant Rita Sherman.

Rouch died in a car accident in February 2004, 16 kilometres from Birni-N'Konni, Niger.

In her 2017 essay "How the Art World, and Art Schools, Are Ripe for Sexual Abuse", contemporary artist Coco Fusco details an early encounter with Rouch: "I was sexually accosted by the renowned ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch, who is credited with having invented a better way to look at Africans."[14]

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Niamey

Niamey

Niamey is the capital and largest city of Niger. Niamey lies on the Niger River, primarily situated on the east bank. Niamey's population was counted as 1,026,848 as of the 2012 census. As of 2017, population projections show the capital district growing at a slower rate than the country as a whole, which has the world's highest fertility rate. The city is located in a pearl millet growing region, while manufacturing industries include bricks, ceramic goods, cement, and weaving.

Niger

Niger

Niger or the Niger, officially the Republic of the Niger, is a landlocked country in West Africa. It is a unitary state bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin and Burkina Faso to the southwest, Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest. It covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2 (490,000 sq mi), making it the second-largest landlocked country in West Africa, after Chad. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara. Its predominantly Muslim population of about 25 million live mostly in clusters in the further south and west of the country. The capital Niamey is located in Niger's southwest corner.

Damouré Zika

Damouré Zika

Damouré Zika was a Nigerien traditional healer, broadcaster, and film actor. Coming from a long line of traditional healers in the Sorko ethnic group of western Niger, Zika appeared in many of the films of French director Jean Rouch, becoming one of Niger's first actors. As a practitioner of traditional medicine, he opened a clinic in Niamey, and was for many years a broadcaster and commentator on health issues for Niger's national radio.

Songhai proper

Songhai proper

The Songhai proper are an ethnic group in the northwestern corner of Niger's Tillaberi Region, an area historically known in the country as Songhai. They are a subgroup of the broader Songhai group. Even though the Songhais have so much in common with the Zarma, to the extent that some Songhais may refer to themselves and their dialect as "Zarma," both see themselves as two distinct branches of the same ethnicity.

Niger River

Niger River

The Niger River is the main river of West Africa, extending about 4,180 km (2,600 mi). Its drainage basin is 2,117,700 km2 (817,600 sq mi) in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in south-eastern Guinea near the Sierra Leone border. It runs in a crescent shape through Mali, Niger, on the border with Benin and then through Nigeria, discharging through a massive delta, known as the Niger Delta, into the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. The Niger is the third-longest river in Africa, exceeded by the Nile and the Congo River. Its main tributary is the Benue River.

Marcel Griaule

Marcel Griaule

Marcel Griaule was a French author and anthropologist known for his studies of the Dogon people of West Africa, and for pioneering ethnographic field studies in France. He worked together with Germaine Dieterlen and Jean Rouch on African subjects. His publications number over 170 books and articles for scholarly journals.

French Resistance

French Resistance

The French Resistance was a collection of organizations that fought the Nazi occupation of France and the collaborationist Vichy régime during the Second World War. Resistance cells were small groups of armed men and women who conducted guerrilla warfare and published underground newspapers. They also provided first-hand intelligence information, and escape networks that helped Allied soldiers and airmen trapped behind enemy lines. The Resistance's men and women came from different levels in the French society, including émigrés, academics, students, aristocrats, conservative Roman Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, liberals, anarchists and communists.

Agence France-Presse

Agence France-Presse

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

Pirogue

Pirogue

A pirogue, also called a piragua or piraga, is any of various small boats, particularly dugouts and native canoes. The word is French and is derived from Spanish [piˈɾaɣwa], which comes from the Carib piraua.

Jaguar (1967 film)

Jaguar (1967 film)

Jaguar is a 1967 French ethnographic film directed by Jean Rouch. Set in the 1950s, it follows three men from Niger, Damouré, Lam, and Illo, who travel to the Gold Coast for work. Much of the dialogue and narration in the film is provided by the three men themselves as they comment on their past experiences on their journey.

Gold Coast (British colony)

Gold Coast (British colony)

The Gold Coast was a British Crown colony on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa from 1821 until its independence in 1957 as Ghana. The term Gold Coast is also often used to describe all of the four separate jurisdictions that were under the administration of the Governor of the Gold Coast. These were the Gold Coast itself, Ashanti, the Northern Territories Protectorate and the British Togoland trust territory.

Docufiction

Docufiction

Docufiction is the cinematographic combination of documentary and fiction, this term often meaning narrative film. It is a film genre which attempts to capture reality such as it is and which simultaneously introduces unreal elements or fictional situations in narrative in order to strengthen the representation of reality using some kind of artistic expression.

Main films

  • 1947: Au pays des mages noirs (In the Land of the Black Magi)
  • 1949: Initiation à la danse des possédés (Initiation into Possession Dance)
  • 1949: La Circoncision (The Circumcision)
  • 1950: Cimetière dans la falaise
  • 1951: Bataille sur le grand fleuve (Battle on the Great River)
  • 1953: Les Fils de l'eau
  • 1954: Mammy Water[15]
  • 1954: Les maîtres fous (The Mad Masters)[16]
  • 1957: Baby Ghana
  • 1958: Moi, un noir (Treichville) [I, a Black (Treichville)][17]
  • 1961: La pyramide humaine (The Human Pyramid)[18]
  • 1961: Chronique d'un été (Paris 1960) (Chronicle of a Summer)[19] — co-directed with Edgar Morin
  • 1964: La punition, ou les Mauvaises rencontres [Punishment, or: Bad Encounters][18]
  • 1964: Gare du Nord (segment of Paris vu par — aka: Six in Paris)
  • 1965: La chasse au lion à l'arc [Lion Hunting with Bow and Arrow] (aka The Lion Hunters)[20]
  • 1966: Sigui année zero
  • 1966: Les veuves de 15 ans (The 15-Year-Old Widows)
  • 1967: Sigui: l'enclume de Yougo
  • 1967: Jaguar [21]
  • 1968: Sigui 1968: Les danseurs de Tyogou
  • 1969: Sigui 1969: La caverne de Bongo
  • 1969: Petit à Petit[22] [the title translates in English to "Little by Little"; in the film "Petit à Petit" is the name of an import-export company in Niamey, Niger]
  • 1970: Sigui 1970: Les clameurs d'Amani
  • 1971: Sigui 1971: La dune d'Idyeli
  • 1971: Tourou et Bitti, les tambours d'avant (Tourou and Bitti: The Drums of the Past)
  • 1972: Sigui 1972: Les pagnes de lame
  • 1973: Sigui 1973: L'auvent de la circonsion
  • 1974: Cocorico! Monsieur Poulet
  • 1976: Babatu
  • 1977: Ciné-portrait de Margaret Mead
  • 1977: Makwayela (1977)
  • 1979: Les funérailles à Bougo, le vieil Anaï
  • 1980: "Funeral at Bongo: Old Anaï (1848-72) [version with English language narration by Rouch]
  • 1984: Dionysos
  • 1986: " Folie Ordinaire d'une fille de Cham " co-directed with Philippe Constantini avec Jenny Alpha et Sylvie Laporte
  • 1990: Liberté, égalité, fraternité et puis après (Freedom, Equality, Fraternity—And Then What?)
  • 2002: Le rêve plus fort que la mort co-directed with Bernard Surugue

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Source: "Jean Rouch", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Rouch.

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Bibliography
  • Rouch, Jean. Ciné-Ethnography, edited and translated by Steven Feld. University of Minnesota Press, 2003.
  • Rouch, Jean. La Religion et la Magie Songhay. Presses Universitaires de France, 1960. 2nd revised edition published by Éditions de l'Université de Bruxelles, 1989.
Notes
  1. ^ Jean Rouch is an inspiration for the project… though at the epicentre of auteur culture he saw his film-making practice as a collaborative venture, a ‘shared anthropology’ as he called it – note by Mandy Rose (2010)
  2. ^ Anthropological Film, Adventures with Jean Rouch – article by Philo Bregstein at DER, 2005
  3. ^ Cahiers du Cinéma, 94 (April 1959)
  4. ^ Jean Rouch at the Comité du film etnhographique
  5. ^ Quotes on Jean Rouch at Googreads
  6. ^ Jean Rouch and D. W. Griffith – article by Richard Brody at The New Yorker
  7. ^ Damouré Zika - collaborator with Jean Rouch on more than 80 ethnographic films, article by Ronald Bergan, The Guardian, 21 April 2009
  8. ^ Damouré, secret bien gardé Archived 24 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, at Le Courrier (Switzerland), 11 August 2007
  9. ^ Jean Rouch, an Ethnologist And Filmmaker, Dies at 86 – article by Alan Riding at The NY Times, Feb. 20, 2004
  10. ^ Niger mourns film and radio star, BBC News, 7 April 2009
  11. ^ Bataille sur le grand fleuve, hommage à Jean Rouch, France-Diplomatie, 2008
  12. ^ Barnouw, Erik. 1993. "Documentary A History of the Non-fiction Film. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press.
  13. ^ Jean Rouch (1917–2004) Archived 4 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine, L'Homme, 171–172 July–December 2004, Online 24 mars 2005. Consulted 7 April 2009
  14. ^ Fusco, Coco (14 October 2017). "Hyperallergic". Retrieved 14 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Icarus Films: Mammy Water". icarusfilms.com. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  16. ^ "Icarus Films: The Mad Masters". icarusfilms.com. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  17. ^ "Icarus Films: Moi, Un Noir". icarusfilms.com. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  18. ^ a b "Icarus Films: Eight Films by Jean Rouch". icarusfilms.com. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  19. ^ "Chronicle of a Summer". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
  20. ^ "Icarus Films: Human Pyramid, The". icarusfilms.com. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  21. ^ "Icarus Films: Jaguar". icarusfilms.com. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  22. ^ "Icarus Films: Little By Little". icarusfilms.com. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
References
Further reading
  • Adams, John W. Jean Rouch Talks About His Films to John Marshall and John W. Adams. American Anthropologist 80:4. December 1978.
  • Beidelman, Thomas O. Review of Jaguar. American Anthropologist 76:3. September 1974.
  • Bruni, Barbara, Jean Rouch: Cinéma-vérité, Chronicle of a Summer and The Human Pyramid, Senses of Cinema', March 2002
  • Deleuze, Gilles – NOTES ON : Cinema 2 – the time-image, Athlone Press London,1989.
  • Fieschi, Jean-André, Jean Rouch, Cinema, A Critical Dictionary, Richard Roud (editor), Vol. 2, pp. 901–909. Secker & Warburg and Viking Press, 1980.
  • Georgakas, Dan and Udayan Gupta, Judy Janda. The Politics of Visual Anthropology: An Interview with Jean Rouch. Cineaste 8:4. 1978.
  • Henley, Paul. The Adventure of the Real: Jean Rouch and the Craft of Ethnographic Cinema. University of Chicago Press, 2009.
  • Muller, Jean Claude. Review of Les Maîtres fous, American Anthropologist 73:1471–1473. 1971.
  • Papanicolaou, Catherine. Petit à petit de Jean Rouch : montages et remontages, Cinema & Cie IX, Fall (13):19-27. 2009.
  • Portis, Irene – Jean Rouch: The Semiotics of Ethnographic Film Irene Portis – Winner Cambridge, MA August 7, 2011
  • Rothman, William (editor). Jean Rouch : a celebration of life and film (Transatlantique 8). Fasano, Italy: Schena Editore, 2007.
  • Rothman, William (editor). Three Documentary Filmmakers: Errol Morris, Ross McElwee, Jean Rouch, State University of New York Press, 2009.
  • Rothman, William, “Jean Rouch’s Ciné-Trance and Modes of Experimental Ethno-Fiction Filmmaking,” in David LaRocca and Timothy Corrigan, eds, The Philosophy of Documentary Film: Image, Sound, Fiction, Truth, Lexington Books, 2017
  • Rothman, William, Jean Rouch: The Camera as Provocateur, in Barton Palmer and Murray Pomerance, editors, Thinking in the Dark: Cinema, Theory, Practice, Rutgers University Press, 2016
  • Rothman, William, Jean Rouch as Film Artist, in William Rothman, Tuitions and Intuitions: Essays at the Intersection of Film Criticism and Philosophy, State University of New York Press, 2019, 203-332.
  • Stoller, Paul. The Cinematic Griot: The Ethnography of Jean Rouch. University of Chicago Press, 1992.
  • Tailor & Francis. Disruptive forms: the cinema of Jean Rouch at Tailor & Francis online
  • Vigo, Julian. Power, Knowledge and Discourse: Turning the Ethnographic Gaze around in Rouch's Chronique d’un été. Visual Sociology, 1995.
  • Ricard, Alain "Jean Rouch: Some Personal Memories" In Research in African Literatures, 35, Fall (3), 6–7. 2004. [10.1353/ral.2004.0072]
External links

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