This talk analyzes interactions between blacks and whites depicted between 1957 and 1961 in Jean Rouch’s I, a Black Man, The Human Pyramide, and Chronicle of a Summer. It concludes with remarks on Shadows, a 1958-59 feature film by John Cassavetes often credited as a breakthrough in U.S. independent filmmaking. In so doing, Professor Ungar explores what Rouch and Cassavetes were trying to accomplish through production practices that bordered on the experimental. Major topics to be raised include: (1) what reading across these films completed on opposite sides of the Atlantic discloses concerning cinematic treatments of relations between blacks and whites between 1957 and 1961; and (2) how such cross-reading contributes to a fuller understanding of Rouch’s films in a transnational context.
Steven Ungar has taught French literature & thought, Comparative Literature, Translation, & Film at The University of Iowa since 1976. His latest publications include Critical Mass: Social Documentary in France from the Silent Era to the New Wave (2018) as well as book chapters on Louis Malle’s Lacombe Lucien and on Chantal Akerman’s La Captive.
This talk is sponsored by the Department of French and Italian, the Graduate Center for Literary Research (GCLR), the Carsey-Wolf Center, the IHC, Mellichamp Global Dynamics Speaker series and the Department of Film and Media Studies.