Jean Rouch

Jean Rouch, the son of a naval officer and a painter, was born on 31 May 1917, in Paris. After living a very travelling childhood, due to his father’s profession, Rouch went on to become a highly acclaimed filmmaker and anthropologist. He served for some time as the the Secretary-General of the Committee of Ethnographic Films at the Musée de l’Homme, Paris. He was once the Director of the French Institute for Tropical Africa, Niger.

A controversial and polarizing figure, Rouch was in many ways a pioneer. Revered by the filmmakers associated with the French New Wave, Rouch is considered to be one of founders of the “cinéma-vérité” movement as well as the father of Nigerian cinema.  Influenced by surrealism, he is equally regarded as the creator of a new style of filmmaking, “ethnofiction”, notable for blending documentary and fiction film in the field of visual anthropology. For over sixty years, he worked in Africa, where he directed the majority of his films.

His filmography includes the following titles: Sons of the Water (1953); The Mad Masters (1954); Jaguar (1955); I, a Negro (1958); Chronicle of a Summer, co-directed with sociologist Edgar Morin (1960); Babatu (1976).

On 18 February, 2004, Jean died in a car accident in Niger, at the age of 86. He was on his way to a celebration of Nigerian cinema, which was to feature a retrospective of his own films.


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