From vues to ethnofiction: French ethnographic film-making in Africa before Jean Rouch

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Abstract

This article offers an overview of the very substantial body of films of ethnographic interest produced by French filmmakers working in Africa before Jean Rouch appeared on the scene. It identifies a number of genres. For the first two decades this work largely took the form of short films of reportage, mostly shot in North and West Africa by anonymous operators working for newsreel agencies. Then, in the 1920s, longer and technically more complex films based on transregional and even transcontinental expeditions began to appear. Films offering an inventory of cultural traditions in particular French colonies also appeared in this decade. Also to consider are films based on extended field research, from the 1930s onwards. We conclude with a brief analysis of the originality of Jean Rouch as he developed a new form of ethnographic filmmaking in the late 1940s
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-80
Number of pages59
JournalVisual Anthropology
Volume33
Issue number1
Early online date11 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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