Jean Rouch  

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"The direct cinema documentarist took his camera to a situation of tension and waited hopefully for a crisis; the Rouch version of cinéma vérité tried to precipitate one. The direct cinema artist aspired to invisibility; the Rouch cinéma vérité artist was often an avowed participant. The direct cinema artist played the role of uninvolved bystander; the cinéma vérité artist espoused that of provocateur. Direct cinema found its truth in events available to the camera. Cinéma vérité was committed to a paradox: the artificial circumstances could bring hidden truth to the surface.”--Erik Barnouw, Documentary: A History of the Non-Fiction Film London: Oxford, 1974), 229-262

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Jean Rouch (31 May 1917 - 18 February 2004) was a French filmmaker and anthropologist.

He began his long association with African subjects in 1941 after working as civil engineer supervising a construction project in Niger. However, shortly afterwards he 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 become an influential anthropologist and sometimes controversial filmmaker.

Rouch's films mostly belonged to the cinéma vérité school – a label that Rouch himself coined. His 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 in which he portrays the social life of contemporary France. Throughout his career, he used his camera to report on life in Africa. Over the course of five decades, he made almost 120 films.

He was killed in an automobile accident in February 2004, some 16 kilometres from the town of Birnin N'Konni in central Niger.

Main films

  • 1949: Initiation à la danse des possédés
  • 1950: Cimetière dans la falaise
  • 1953: Les Fils de l'eau
  • 1955: Les Maîtres Fous (The Mad Masters)
  • 1955: Jaguar
  • 1955: Mammy Water
  • 1958: Moi, un noir
  • 1959: La pyramide humaine
  • 1960: Chronique d'un été (Chronicle of a Summer)
  • 1965: La chasse au lion à l'arc
  • 1966: Sigui année zero
  • 1967: Sigui: l'enclume de Yougo
  • 1968: Sigui 1968: Les danseurs de Tyogou
  • 1969: Sigui 1969: La caverne de Bongo
  • 1970: Sigui 1970: Les clameurs d'Amani
  • 1971: Sigui 1971: La dune d'Idyeli
  • 1972: Sigui 1972: Les pagnes de lame
  • 1973: Sigui 1973: L'auvent de la circonsion
  • 1974: Cocorico M. Poulet
  • 1976: Babatu
  • 1977: Ciné-portrait de Margaret Mead
  • 1979: Bougo, les funérailles du vieil Anaï
  • 1984: Dionysos
  • 2002: Le rêve plus fort que la mort co-directed with Bernard Surugue

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