Jaguar follows the picaresque adventures of Damouré Zika, Lam
Ibrahim Dia, and Illo Gaoudel, three young men from Niger who set off
to find their fortune in the Gold Coast (present-day Ghana) in the early
fifties. Two find jobs in Accra, while the third opens a business in the
sprawling market in Kumasi; all three become “jaguars,” gentlemen
bachelors walking the city streets on the lookout for romance. Shot
in 1954, completed in 1967, and technically Jean Rouch’s first feature
film, Jaguar abounds with a youthful energy shared by the film-
maker and his friends in front of the camera. With this exhilarating
experiment, Rouch developed his method of “ethno-fiction,” in which
he collaborated with his subjects to improvise fictional scenes in a
documentary setting and later invited the “actors” to add voiceover
commentary. All three actors have the gift of gab and a high-spirited,
self-mocking sense of humor, which make Jaguar both an exuber-
ant comedy and a whirlwind tour of the life of West African economic
migrants in the fifties. This mosaic of short hand-held shots is also a
bold departure from the standards of ethnographic filmmaking, both
scruffy and stylish, and relentlessly optimistic.

Jean Rouch

Jean Rouch

Lam Ibrahim
Illo Goudel’ize
Damoure Zika

Documentary, “ethnofiction”
93 min.
France, Ghana, 1967
DCP, DVD, Blu-Ray

Icarus Films