Past Event

Jean Rouch and Modernity

May 2, 2018
5:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Maison Française, Broadway and 116th Street

To mark the 100-year anniversary of the birth of anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch, the Maison Française presents a selection of unfinished, unpublished films by the filmmaker, including “Monsieur Albert, Prophète” (Côte d’Ivoire, 1962-63) and “Moi fatigué debout, moi couché” (Niger, 1996-97). These will be presented and discussed by three specialists of Jean Rouch’s work. In these two films, selected among 120 films created by Rouch between 1947 and 2003, there is a tension and interaction between tradition and modernity in the first years of independence, visible in domains ranging from migration and migrants, agriculture and water, religious beliefs, magic, myths and traditional medicine, in these two African countries, Niger and the Ivory Coast.  Rouch was the first filmmaker to be interested in these subjects which are today remarkably relevant.

About half of his oeuvre remained unfinished and unpublished. Rouch was an adherent of improvisation, or “creative disorder,” when filming and constructing his works in the editing process. Fluidity and indeterminacy are characteristic of his style, creating a dialogue and tension in his oeuvre between the finished and the unfinished.

Valérie Berty teaches French cinema and literature at NYU in Paris and has a forthcoming book on the cinema of Ousmane Sembène. Jean-Pierre Dozon is Scientific Director of the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme (FMSH). Jean-Pierre Dozon works principally on West Africa, and was awarded the Prize for Rayonnement de la langue et de la littérature françaises by the Académie française in 2004 for his book, Frères et Sujets : La France et l'Afrique en perspective. Catherine Ruelle is President of the Association Centenaire Jean Rouch 2017. She met Jean Rouch as a journalist and film critic at RFI between 1972 and 2012. She has co-edited several important books about African cinema, including La nascita del cinéma africano (1998), and Afriques 50, singularités d’un cinéma pluriel. Jamie Berthe holds a PhD from NYU's Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. Her research interests revolve primarily around film, visual culture, media, postcolonial theory, and histories of empire. In her dissertation, Jamie explored the legacy of the French filmmaker and anthropologist Jean Rouch, particularly in relationship to French colonial history and African cinema. She has been a fellow at the NYU Humanities Initiative and has also received a George Lurcy Fellowship for study in France. Jamie teaches courses on film, postcolonial theory, and visual culture at The Gallatin School (NYU), where she is also administrative director of the graduate program. She has recently published articles in Studies in French Cinema (2018) and a chapter in Dans le sillage de Jean Rouch (2018).

Event co-sponsored by the Maison Française, Institute of African Studies, Department of Anthropology and Columbia Global Centers/Paris.

This event is made possible thanks to support from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Institut Francais, the Association Centenaire Jean Rouch, and La Scam