Jean Rouch

Jean Rouch on the Gold Coast

“[Jaguar is] Rouch’s most thorough examination of the African experience under the colonial regime...The camera’s presence is intended to cause those being filmed to react, thus creating, rather than merely recording, events.” 
—Senses of Cinema

Jack H. Skirball Series

Jaguar (shot 1954–55, premiered 1967)
preceded by Les Maîtres fous (The Mad Masters, 1955)

These two films compose a fascinating portrait of the dislocation created by colonialism in Africa. Once controversial, but now an anthropological classic, Les Maîtres fous (28 mins.) documents a Hauka possession ceremony, during which the participants mimic figures of the colonial power. With Jaguar (90 mins.), Rouch invented ciné-fiction, a mix of ethnology and improvised narrative. A gallant public writer, a shepherd and a fisherman—portrayed respectively by non-professional actors Damouré Zika, Lam Ibrahim Dia and Illo Gaoudel—leave their village to try their luck on the fabled Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana). In Accra, Damouré becomes a “jaguar”—a city slicker. As sync sound was not available then, the three buddies jovially comment on the action after the fact, observing that the Brits royally conned Africa out of its gold.

Presented as part of Farther Than Far: The Cinema of Jean Rouch, in association with the French Film & TV Office–Consulate General of France in Los Angeles, the UCLA Film & Television Archive and Los Angeles Filmforum. Additional series screenings take place January 25–February 23.

Funded in part with generous support from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Curated by Steve Anker and Bérénice Reynaud.

Associated Images: 

MON 2/4
8:30 pm

G - General Audience

M - REDCAT Members

ST - Students

CA - CalArts Students/Faculty/Staff