Thursday, July 1, 2004

A Tribute to Jean Rouch

Jaguar: The First Road Movie

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Jean Rouch made hundreds of films, initiated a collaborative form of ethnographic cinema, was seminal for the French New Wave and coined the term cinéma vérité with Edgar Morin in Chronicle of a Summer. He died in a car accident in Niger this year at the age of 86. As a tribute to his crucial role in breaking down borders between fact and fiction and acknowledging the power of improvisation, we present his early masterpiece and perhaps the first road movie, Jaguar (1954/67). Three Africans set off from rural Niger in search of jobs and adventure. Reaching the Gold Coast (now Ghana) shortly before the end of colonialism, they work in the ports, in the lumber trade or as market sellers, and become “jaguar,” or “cool.” As Rouch said, “Jaguar was fun… we made it up as we went along.” (Irina Leimbacher)