The occasion is the publication of Building Bridges: The Cinema of Jean Rouch , edited by Joram ten Brink. The book looks good but the publisher’s book description is unfortunate, describing Rouch as the forerunner of Nick Broomfield and Michael Moore, and of Big Brother and reality TV.  Those who are familiar with his work will surely think of him as so much more. 

In film history he links Robert Flaherty and Dziga Vertov with Pennebaker , the Maysles, and with Godard.  Rouch’s innovative work celebrates the truth in fiction and the fiction in truth; the challenges of surrealism ; participatory filmmaking in which the filmmaker acts as only one agent of a broad collaborative project in which actors may “play” themselves, plot is subsumed to a narrative that rolls out in the filmmaking process, and the very act of filmmaking provokes the possibility of truths that otherwise would not exist. The truth of the camera is not that it captures or reveals what is already true; the encounter between filmmaker and subject creates possibilities through which true stories may be born.