Little By Little: Petit a petit

Directed by Jean Rouch

92 minutes / Color
English; French / English subtitles
Release: 2012
Copyright: 1969

Included in boxset Eight Films by Jean Rouch.

By 1969, Jean Rouch had spent more than two decades documenting West Africa as an ethnographer, and in 1961 had co-directed CHRONICLE OF A SUMMER, an anthropological investigation of Parisian life. In LITTLE BY LITTLE, Rouch's Nigerien collaborators Damoure Zika and Lam Ibrahim travel to Paris and end up performing a reverse ethnography of French culture.

When we re-join Zika and Ibrahim in Ayorou, Niger, the Little By Little company they had formed at the conclusion of JAGUAR has become a large import-export company. Hearing that a competitor is building a multistory building in Niamey, the directors of the company decide they must construct their own in Ayorou.

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Zika flies to Paris to study the city's skyscrapers and meet with architects for advice. His mission quickly broadens into a full-fledged investigation of French life, the methods of which begin to suspiciously resemble those of imperialist European anthropology, and give a darkly comic charge to the proceedings.

Ibrahim eventually joins Zika in France, and the pair fall into their own version of contemporary European life, along the way picking up Senegalese clothing designer, a white French typist, and a hobo, all of whom return with them to Niger to work for Little By Little.

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The most cutting of Rouch's collaborative ethno-fictions, LITTLE BY LITTLE playfully satirizes the history of European-African relations.

""A truly mesmerizing, frequently hilarious, and provocative masterpiece."—Eric Kohn, Cineaste

"A film of tremendous insight into the nature of identity and selfhood in the colonial and postcolonial context."—Michael Laramee, Three Documentary Filmmakers: Errol Morris, Ross McElwee, Jean Rouch

"Wonderfully humorous"—Paul Stoller

“Serves as an excellent example of Cinéma vérité.” —Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO)

“Takes careful aim at French conventions utilizing the cross-cultural perspective Rouch cultivated.” —The Washington Post

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Select Accolades

  • Mention, 31st Venice Biennale


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