This year marks the centenary of the birth of the French ethnographic filmmaker, Jean Rouch. Founder of the cinéma-vérité movement and pioneer of techniques such as “shared anthropology” and “ethno-fiction,” Rouch not only re-defined the landscape of anthropology and cinema in France during the 1950s and sixties, he helped transform Post-Independence African cinema and documentary film practice, writ large. Having made upwards of one hundred films with countless collaborators over the course of a career that spanned six decades and several continents, the story of his complex legacy is just beginning to unfold.
Rouch in the USA aims to trace the contours of Rouch’s influence on American thinkers and filmmakers. Whether through his work with students and faculty at summer workshops on the East Coast (where he taught alongside such pioneering figures as Ricky Leacock and John Marshall), his invaluable presence at the now legendary Flaherty Seminars, or his lasting impact on scholars and artists working in the U.S., it has long been recognized that Rouch’s work has been embraced and taken up in the American context in ways that are wholly unique.
An integral part of the centenary edition of the annual Festival International Jean Rouch, the event is co-sponsored by the Comité du Film Ethnographique and has been made possible by the generous support of the Office of the Provost’s Global Research Initiatives at New York University, NYU Paris, the NYU Center for the Humanities, The Gallatin School of Individualized Study, and the Center for Media, Culture and History at NYU. Rouch in the USA will also coincide with several centenary events taking place in Paris this fall, including two major Rouch exhibits at the Musée de l’Homme and the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris.
Organized by Beth Epstein (NYU Paris), Faye Ginsburg (Department of Anthropology, NYU), & Jamie Berthe (The Gallatin School, NYU).
Banner image: Program from first annual Margaret Mead Film Festival (1977) in New York City.