Paris 1917 - 2004
In 1960, Jean Rouch described his way of filming as "direct cinema" following the example of his masters Robert Flaherty and Dziga Vertov, and later as "creative trance". His work, which has won several awards in Venice, Cannes and Berlin, is made up of ethnographic documentaries (Maîtres fous; Sigui synthèse), sociological documentaries (Chronique d'un été) and fictions (Moi, un Noir; Cocorico Monsieur Poulet). Jean Rouch was director of the Cinémathèque française. He was an honorary research director at the C.N.R.S. and secretary general of the Ethnographic Film Committee.
Jean Rouch, an engineer at the Ponts et Chaussées, discovered ethnography in Niger. During a second stay in Africa, he undertook the descent of the Niger River, and became interested in the Songhay, of whom he became the undisputed specialist. Then came his passion for cinema, which brought him a new method of study. Influenced by Surrealism, the work of Marcel Griaule in the Dogon country and seduced by the essential rules of inspiration and intuition, he captured and filmed the evolution of the African continent and French society. His cinematographic writing will influence the generation of filmmakers of the Nouvelle Vague.