Jean Rouch was a French filmmaker and anthropologist. He is considered to be one of the founders of cinéma-vérité in France. Rouch’s practice as a filmmaker for over sixty years in Africa, was characterized by the idea of shared anthropology. He began his long association with African subjects in 1941 after working as civil engineer supervising a construction project in Niger. When he arrived in Niamey as a French colonial hydrology engineer, he became interested in Zarma and Songhai ethnology and began to film local people and their rituals. By 1950, Rouch had made the first films set in Niger with Au pays des mages noirs (1947), l’initiation à la danse des possédés (1948) and Les magiciens de Wanzarbé (1949), all of which documented the spirit possession rituals of the Songhai, Zarma, and Sorko peoples living along the Niger river. His best known film is Chronique d’un été (1961), which he filmed with sociologist Edgar Morin and in which he portrays the social life of contemporary France. Throughout his career, he used his camera to report on life in Africa. Over the course of five decades, he made almost 120 films. Rouch passed away in an automobile accident in February 2004.
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