MOI, UN NOIR / I, A NEGRO

Few films have had as sweeping an impact as Jean Rouch’s 1958
portrait of three Nigerien migrants in Treichville, a bustling neighbor-
hood in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. As an ethnographic film, Moi, un noir was
both politically and aesthetically revolutionary through its attempt to
address the problem of the ethnographer (nearly always a white man)
filming subjects (nearly always people of color) objectified and stripped
of agency by the filmmaking process. Here, Rouch began by film-
ing his friend Oumarou Ganda (later to become a pioneer of African
cinema) and two other young men seeking their fortune in Abidjan,
inviting them to improvise scenes as they worked the docks by day and
dreamed of a better life by night. He then asked Oumarou Ganda to
add his own voiceover commentary to the images of himself and his
friends. And so, the documentary became a shared project, in which
the people on screen actively participated in their representation and
revealed not only the surface of their daily lives, but the stuff of their
dreams. This vibrant, rough-hewn film had a determining influence on
the French New Wave and the cinéma vérité movement of the sixties.
It remains a touchstone for today’s documentary/fiction hybrids.

DIRECTOR
Jean Rouch

SCREENPLAY
Jean Rouch

CAST
Omarou Ganda
Gambi

DETAILS
Documentary, “ethnofiction”
French
74 min.
France, Côte d’Ivoire, 1959
DCP, DVD, Blu-Ray

DISTRIBUTOR
Icarus Films

PRICE RANGE
$200