PRINT November 2015


Still from Jean Rouch’s Moi, un noir, 1958, 35 mm, color, sound, 80 minutes. Edward G. Robinson (Oumarou Ganda) and Dorothy Lamour (Mademoiselle Gambi).

NEW IDEAS in motion pictures typically arrive from the so-called margins. Thus, modern (or postmodern) cinema comes to Europe by way of Africa. Working out his own particular destiny as an ethnographic filmmaker in France’s West African colonies, Jean Rouch (1917–2004) invented the French New Wave.

A professional anthropologist with a long-standing interest in Surrealism and, by his own account, an early regular at the Cinémathèque Française, Rouch credited the introduction of the 16-mm format with the “revival of ethnographic films.” He himself became a filmmaker when he started packing a secondhand Bell & Howell found in a Paris flea market on his West African field trips in the mid-1950s. His first short efforts were distinguished by their pragmatic resourcefulness and a kind of honest sensationalism that bespoke an imagination closer to that of Luis Buñuel than to that of John

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the November 2015 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.