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The Human Pyramid
Directed by Jean Rouch
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Included in boxset Eight Films by Jean Rouch.

At the Lycée Français of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Rouch worked with students there who willingly enacted a story about the arrival of a new white girl, Nadine, and her effect on the interactions of and interracial relationships between the white colonial French and Black African classmates, all non-actors. Fomenting a dramatic situation instead of repeating one, Rouch extended the experiments he had undertaken in Chronicle of a Summer, including having on-camera student participants view rushes of the film midway through the story. The docu-drama shows how working together to make the film changes their attitude towards each other.

"Seminal; this groundbreaking metafiction by the French ethnographic filmmaker Jean Rouch is as much a political experiment as an artistic one. Rouch has a keen eye for the landscape and an avid tenderness for his performers."The New Yorker

"Somewhere between a Richard Linklater-esque hangout movie and a high-pressure debate club that touches on everything from religious justifications for slavery in America to expressions of implicit racism unique to the grammar of French ... Created a template for how a film could conduct a complex internal dialogue using only the terms of its own fascination with beauty, romance, and young bodies."The A.V. Club

"I want the racists to talk like racists. For a film on robbery, I'd ask someone to steal. But even if it's a fake theft, I'd be an accomplice, even if I'm filming." —Jean Rouch, La Pyramide Humaine

Honorable Mention, 1962 Montevideo Film Festival
Official Selection, 1961 Mannheim Film Festival
Official Selection, 1961 XIXth Montréal Film Festival

93 minutes / Color
French / English subtitles
Release: 2017
Copyright: 1961

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Subject areas:
Africa, African Studies, Anthropology, Cinema Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Docudrama, France, Race and Racism, Racism, Sociology

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