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Release: Feb. 15, 2001

(EDITORS NOTE: Accents on French titles have been omitted to avoid problems with electronic transmission. Proper French spellings for publication use are available upon request.)

UI hosts conference on controversial filmmaker Jean Rouch

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The documentaries of French filmmaker Jean Rouch remain controversial among film scholars and anthropologists. His early films documenting rituals and ceremonies in West Africa brought him acclaim as a filmmaker, but some ethnographers and filmmakers have deplored his techniques.

To explore the issues and controversy surrounding Rouch's work, the department of cinema and comparative literature in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts will host "Rouch Effects," a two-day conference Feb. 23-24 focused on Rouch and the techniques of autobiographical and indigenous media.

"This conference is not an homage in any sense of the term," said Steven Ungar, chairman of the department and a conference organizer. "Its goal is to assess the contemporaneity of films by and on Rouch among anthropologists, filmmakers, and historians."

Rouch was a pioneer of the cinema verite style of filmmaking and is regularly cited as a major influence on the French New Wave and American direct cinema movements. His career has spanned more than 50 years and he has produced more than 100 films.

The conference is free and open to the public and includes several screenings of Rouch's films. All conference events will be held in Room 101 Becker Communication Studies Building on the UI campus. The conference schedule follows:

Friday, February 23

7 p.m.: "Rouch Effects: From Ethnofiction to Reverse Anthropology," presented by Steven Ungar, Chair, Cinema and Comparative Literature

7:30 p.m.: screenings of two films by Jean Rouch--"Les Maitres Fous" (1954-55; 16mm, 28 min.) and "Jaguar" (1954-67; 16mm, 93 min.)

Saturday, February 24

10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: film screenings --"Chronique d'un Ete" by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin (1961; 16mm, 88 min.) and "Rouch in Reverse" (1995; VHS, 52 min.) by Manthia Diawara

1:30-4:30 p.m. " 'Les Maitres fous' and the Limits of Psychoanalytic Approaches," presented by Sasha Waters, assistant professor of cinema and comparative literature (Production)

"Locating Voice in 'Shared Anthropology,' " presented by Cheryl Cambras, graduate student, film studies

"Chronique d'un ete: In the Thick of Things," presented by Steven Ungar

"Rouch Traces: The Ethnographic Camera and Feminist Cinema," presented by Jennifer Wild, graduate student, film studies

"Writing and Film in Ethnography," presented by Louis Schwartz, assistant professor of cinema and comparative literature (Film Studies)

Reception to follow

"Rouch Effects" is sponsored by the UI department of cinema and comparative literature, with support from the African Studies Program, the Project for the Advanced Study of Art and Life in Africa, the Institute for Cinema and Culture, and International Programs. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the CCL office at (319) 335-0330.