Jean Rouch
Jean Rouch

For the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of the great French director and ethnographer Jean Rouch, the Venice Film Festival adds to its line-up the world-premiere screening of Cousin, cousine (1985-1987, 31′, color), the only film that Rouch made in Venice, the very unusual and previously unreleased short film, with Damouré Zika and Mariama Hima (Venice Classics).

Cousin, cousine has been fully restored by the French CNC (Centre national du cinéma e de l’image animée) in collaboration with the Fondation Jean Rouch and the Association Centenaire Jean Rouch 2017.

Cousin, cousine is a “caprice” invented in Venice by Jean Rouch and by his two friends and performers, Nigerian actor Damouré Zika and Nigerian filmmaker Mariama Hima, who came to the Venice Film Festival in 1985 to present Mariama Hima’s film Baabu Banza in the “Venezia Genti” section, where it won an award. On that occasion, they decided to make a film fantasy built around a painting by Gentile Bellini and several locations and stories within the city. The plot has Mariama and Damouré, two cousins, meeting in Venice to look for a long-lost relic, like in one of Gentile Bellini’s most famous paintings. Mariama thus introduces Damouré to the city, taking him to a “squero”, a boatyard where he can study how gondolas are made (which is very different from building pirogues).

Cousin, cousine will screen at the 74th Venice Film Festival in the Venice Classics section, following the documentary L’Enigma di Jean Rouch a Torino – Cronaca di un film raté by Marco di Castri, Paolo Favaro and Daniele Pianciola.

Jean Rouch (1917-2004), a French ethnographer and director, made over 180 films (some unfinished), along with a great number of photographs, sound recordings and writings of various kinds. He founded important centres and institutions such as the Comité du film ethnographique and events such as the Cinéma du Réel festival. He taught, defended and promoted ethnographic and documentary filmmaking, and visual anthropology.

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