Hunting the Lion with Bow and Arrow
France / Documentary / 1965 / 1h21
Original Title : La Chasse au lion à l’arc
Production : Comité du film Éthnographique et Les Films de la Pléiade
Distribution : Les Films du Jeudi
Interpretation : Tahirou Koro, Issiaka Moussa, Belébia Moussa
Photography : Jean Rouch
Editing : Dov Hoenig et José Matarasso
Sound : Moussa Hamidou et Idrissa Meiga
In the “country that is further than far away”, between Niger and Mali, there live the farmers Bella and Peul. The herds and the lions live there together in harmony because, by killing sick cows, the one known as “the king of the beasts” preserves the health of the livestock. But sometimes, a lion also kills for fun. So the shepherds call on the Gow hunters, the only people allowed to hunt wild animals for months, even years.
Jean Rouch was born in 1917 in Paris. He discovered ethnography in Niger in 1941, while he was working as a State Engineers of the Bridges. During a second trip to Africa, he began the descent of the Niger River and got interested in the Songhai people, of which he became a specialist. His passion for cinema provided him with new study methods. Influenced by Surrealism, the work of Marcel Griaule with the Dogon people, and seduced by the essential rules of inspiration and intuition, he captured and filmed the evolution of the African continent and the French society. In 1960, he qualified his filming technique as « direct cinema, » following the path of Robert Flaherty and Dziga Vertov, who inspired him. His work, which was rewarded several times in Venice, Cannes and Berlin, consists of ethnographic documentaries (The Mad Masters in 1955 ; Sigui-Synthèse in 1981), sociological documentaries (Chronical of a Summer, co-directed with Edgar Morin in 1961) and fictional films (I, a Negro in 1958 ; Cocorico Monsieur Poulet in 1974). Jean Rouch was the director of the Cinémathèque Française, then he was an Honorary Research Director at the French National Centre for Scientific Research and the secretary-general of the Ethnographic Film Committee. He died in 2004 in Niger.
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