This paper analyzes interactions between blacks and whites depicted between 1957 and 1961 in Jean Rouch’s I, a Black Man, The Human Pyramide, and Chronicle of a Summer. It concludes with remarks on Shadows, a 1958-59 feature film by John Cassavetes often credited as a breakthrough in U.S. independent filmmaking. In so doing, I mean to explore what Rouch and Cassavetes were trying to accomplish through production practices that bordered on the experimental. Major topics to be raised include: (1) what reading across these films completed on opposite sides of the Atlantic discloses concerning cinematic treatments of relations between blacks and whites between 1957 and 1961; and (2) how such cross-reading contributes to a fuller understanding of Rouch’s films in a transnational context.
Steven Ungar has taught French literature & thought, Comparative Literature, Translation, & Film at The University of Iowa since 1976. His latest publications include Critical Mass: Social Documentary in France from the Silent Era to the New Wave (University of Minnesota Press, 2018) as well as book chapters on Louis Malle’s Lacombe Lucien and on Chantal Akerman’s La Captive.
In addition to this scheduled talk, the films under discussion will be shown in a morning lecture course (101C: New Waves Cinema) for which you are invited to join us for the following screenings:
Chronique d’un été [Chronicle of a Summer] (dir. Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin, 1961, 90′): Pollock Theater, Tuesday, May 21 at 10 am
Moi, Un Noir [I, A Black Man] (dir. Jean Rouch, 1958, 73′): Pollock Theater, Thursday, May 23 at 9:30 am, followed by a discussion between Peter Bloom and Steven Ungar
This talk is co-sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, GCLR, CWC, 21st Century Global Dynamics Initiative, Department of French and Italian, the African Studies RFG, and the Department of Film and Media Studies.