We announced this in August, and now the time has come, so New Yorkers, collect yourselves and go be educated and even entertained.
An African cinema history lesson is coming your way, courtesy of Icarus Films… the kind you probably won’t get in film school; I didn’t see or hear the name Jean Rouch (the French expatriate filmmaker) until I picked up a copy of Manthia Diawara’s African Cinema: Politics and Culture, and that wasn’t so long ago.
A selection of rarely screened ethnographic films that Jean Rouch recorded in Mali and Niger primarily, have been preserved by the Archives françaises du film du CNC, Bois d’Arcy.
Rouch (1917–2004) radically transformed nonfiction cinema, with more than 100 films. Even today, Rouch’s films are still quite provocative and controversial in their interrogations of racism and colonialism to start.
Over the summer, Icarus Films announced that it had acquired 6 Jean Rouch classics for North American distribution, including his landmark 1957 work Moi, Un Noir (I, A Black) – winner of the 1958 Prix Louis Delluc, and regarded by Jean-Luc Godard as “the best French film since the liberation.” In fact, it’s said that Godard once thought to name his seminal 1959 film (Breathless) Moi, Un Blanc (I, A White).
The films were to be part of a two-part, 40-film Jean Rouch retrospective held at French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) and Anthology Film Archives, in NYC, between November 7-27 (meaning, it’s already begun) which will be accompanied by a one-day symposium at New York University.
The retrospective will be followed by a North American tour, stopping at venues including The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Pacific Cinematheque in Vancouver.