On January 17, 2024, Laure Astourian, resident researcher at Mucem / Iméra 2023-24, will lead a masterclass on Jean Rouch’s film Moi, un Noir at the Turbulence building’s amphitheater at Aix-Marseille University.

master class laure astourian jean rouch iea aix marseille

For me, cinema has been a questioning of what ethnography had been, that is, the study of a population one knows well but remains foreign. Suddenly, I had the feeling of improvisation, like in hot jazz. With a significant moral advantage because, who was the author? It was me and my friends. (…) The New Wave filmmakers were amazed by this film that cost 2.5 francs and questioned cinema a bit. 

Jean Rouch

Masterclass by Laure Astourian (Iméra/Mucem/Bentley Univ.) on the film Moi, un Noir by Jean Rouch.

The masterclass will take place in the Turbulence room on Wednesday, January 17, from 4:00 pm to 7:45 pm.

The event will start with a screening of Moi, un Noir (Jean Rouch, 1958, ~1h10 min.).

The screening will be followed by a masterclass by Laure Astourian, Assistant Professor at Bentley University (Massachusetts) and holder of the Mucem / Iméra research fellowship. Her first book, The Ethnographic Optic: Jean Rouch, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, and the Turn Inward in 1960s French Cinema, will be published by Indiana University Press in June 2024.

Moi, un Noir, a film by Jean Rouch

Winner of the prestigious Louis Delluc Prize in 1958, Moi, un Noir, marks Jean Rouch’s break with traditional ethnography and his embrace of collaborative and improvised strategies he calls “shared ethnography” and “ethnofiction.”

Moi, un Noir is one of the most well-known and discussed films in Rouch’s filmography. It is the first feature film completed by Rouch, distributed and screened in theaters in 1960; it is also his first completed fiction. (Jean Rouch, Scheinfeigel, Maxime. Author; Marie, Michel. Preface, Edited by CNRS éd. Paris – 2008). The film’s impact can be measured, among other things, by what Jean-Luc Godard writes about it in three articles. The first, “Jean Rouch wins the Louis Delluc Prize,” measures the film’s novelty against that of Rome, ville ouverte, in its time. The second, “Amazing (Moi, un Noir, Jean Rouch),” this time evokes a kinship with Un Roi à New York. The third, “Africa speaks to you about the end and the means,” situates the film in an “immense Niger triptych” between Les Fils de l’eau and Jaguar (not yet released), constituting itself as “an open door to a new cinema” (See Jean-Luc Godard by Jean-Luc Godard, volume 1, op. cit, respectively pp. 155, 177, and 180-182).

The ethnographic tradition in French cinema of the 1960s

The masterclass that Laure Astourian will lead on January 17, 2024, about the film Moi, un Noir by Jean Rouch is part of her book titled The Ethnographic Optic: Jean Rouch, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, and the Turn Inward in 1960s French Cinema (to be published in June 2024 by Indiana University Press), which highlights a strong ethnographic dimension in French cinema during this period.

Laure Astourian explores how ethnographic impulse and metaphor influenced a significant cinematic movement in France and how these films responded to the end of the French colonial empire and its impact on French urban identity. This study focuses primarily on three renowned filmmakers, namely Jean Rouch, Chris Marker, and Alain Resnais, whose works in the 1950s were characterized by a sophisticated engagement with otherness, and whose films in the early 1960s took a self-aware ethnographic look at urban France.

Organisation / partners

Sign up and Practical Information

  • Reservation required. The deadline for reservations is Friday, January 12.
  • There are 70 seats in the room.
  • Address of the Turbulence Amphitheater: 3 Place Victor Hugo, 13003 Marseille

Fichiers attachés: 

Icône image Plan 1 – Salle Turbulence

Icône image Plan 2 – Salle Turbulence

Our resident research fellow

Laure Astourian is a specialist in French cinema of the 1950s and 1960s, currently holder of the Mucem / Iméra fellowship at Iméra, the Institute for Advanced Study of Aix-Marseille University. She focuses particularly on the works of Jean Rouch, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, Agnès Varda, and Jean-Luc Godard. She earned her doctorate in the Department of French at Columbia University (New York) in 2016 under the supervision of her thesis advisor, Vincent Debaene. In 2016-2017, she received the Phi Beta Kappa Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship in French Studies. Since 2017, she has been a lecturer at Bentley University (Massachusetts). With the support of a Fulbright research grant, she spent the fall of 2021 working on her first book, The Ethnographic Optic: Jean Rouch, Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, and the Turn Inward in 1960s French Cinema (to be published in June 2024 by Indiana University Press), at the École normale supérieure (Ulm), under the direction of Antoine de Baecque.