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Interview with Sam Di lorio and Jamie Berthe on Jean Rouch

Jean Rouch has been an elusive figure in the history of documentary film. Perhaps best known for his film Les Maitres Fous, which explores the incorporation of colonial experience in a West African possession ritual, his work has never been widely available and has often been overshadowed by controversy. He is widely recognized as a transformational figure, who developed fundamentally new approaches to documentary, but few people have been able to see his work. This may finally be changing. In February, the Criterion Collection will release Chronicle of a Summer and last year the French Institute Alliance Française and Anthology Film Archives in New York presented the film series “Here and Elsewhere: The Films of Jean Rouch.

Sam Di lorio from the Department of Romance Languages at Hunter College, and Jamie Berthe from the Department of Media, Culture and Communications at NYU, met with French Culture in advance of the upcoming conference on Jean Rouch and the upcoming release of Chronicle of a Summer (the first film to be dubbed ‘cinéma vérité’) by Criterion Collection, on. Di lorio and Berthe discuss the development of Rouch’s experimental form of documentary, the relation of Chronicle to the politics of its time, and the filmmaker’s exploration of the possibility of truth (vérité) in film.