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The Groundbreaking Ethnography of Jean Rouch

MUBI Special

Ethnography has a long affair with cinema, from Robert Flaherty’s seminal Nanook of the North (1922) to the experimental Leviathan (2012), and one of its most important practitioners, influencing the likes of the French New Wave and Werner Herzog, is director Jean Rouch. At first arriving as a colonialist in Niger from France, Rouch in due time abandoned his post and challenged this identity and its associated gaze by immersing himself further into local communities and creating celebratory, and inclusive films composed from daily life. Over the course of 60 years spent in various parts of Africa, his erudite cinema dissolved all notions of fiction and non-fiction into one frame to irrevocably express the various landscapes, peoples, and traditions to the rest of the world.

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