Anthology Film Archives


April 29 – May 21

Throughout April and May, Anthology presents the series “Documentary Feedback”. Exploring the phenomenon by which documentary filmmakers have at times questioned or subverted the usual power dynamics between director and documentary subject, it showcases in particular those films that have incorporated their subjects’ responses to the process of the works’ formation, creating a sort of documentary feedback loop. There may be no filmmaker for whom the notion of documentary feedback is as central as it is for Jean Rouch, who pioneered a form of ethnographic film in which the people whose lives he documented became not simply subjects but collaborators, critics, and co-creators. Alongside “Documentary Feedback”, and in collaboration with guest-curator and Rouch scholar Jamie Berthe, we present the sidebar series, “Jean Rouch: Dialogue and Dissent”.

“‘I contest anthropology in my emphasis on the need to share, to produce in a medium that allows dialogue and dissent across societal lines,’ Jean Rouch once told an interviewer. In 1954 Rouch screened a preliminary cut of his short work HIPPOPOTAMUS HUNT to the people who featured in the film. That screening initiated a dialogue between Rouch and his collaborators that would grow into something much more complex, extending into all of his subsequent film work, his anthropological publications, his collaborations with his Nigerien filmmaking partners (and countless other filmmakers), and his participation in film festivals and training programs all over the world. For Rouch, making films was not just about documenting social facts, it was about creating opportunities for new kinds of conversations and relationships; movies were magic because they could travel through space and time to do the important work of challenging viewers, encouraging them to ask questions, critique what they saw, and respond with their own thoughts and visions. Rouch’s ever evolving practice of ‘shared anthropology’ was not a static concept meant for the ivory towers, it was a radically dynamic approach to collaborative knowledge production, rooted in the idea that the creative process of filmmaking could be mobilized to transform the way people see themselves and one another.” –Jamie Berthe

“Jean Rouch: Dialogue and Dissent” is guest-curated by Jamie Berthe, from The Gallatin School of Individualized Study, New York University, who wrote both the introduction above and the film descriptions below.

The series is made possible by generous support from Villa Albertine – French Embassy in the United States. Special thanks to Valérie Mouroux & Sandrine Neveux (Villa Albertine); Jamie Berthe; Brian Belovarac (Janus Films); and Bob Hunter (Icarus Films).

Guest-curator Jamie Berthe will introduce all the screenings during the series. And for the following screenings she will be joined by:

Sun, April 30 at 5:30: The screening of THE HUMAN PYRAMID will be introduced by Jamie Berthe and Faye Ginsburg, Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Center for Media, Culture and History at NYU.

Sun, April 30 at 8:00: The screening of CHRONICLE OF A SUMMER will be introduced by Sam Di Iorio, associate professor of French at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center.

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