Moi, Un Noir was Rouch’s first feature length film. Shot in Treichville, a slum/suburb of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, the film continues many of the themes of earlier work (especially Jaguar and Les Maitres Fous): immigration to the coastal towns, contact of colonizers and colonized, the effects of colonialism and proletarianization. An attempt to “mix fiction with reality,” it follows the daily routine of three young men from Niger working as casual laborers in Abidjan. The characters were asked to play out their lives in front of the camera. In a sense, the characters are seen as already living out “fictional reality” in Treichville, far from their homes and traditional lives in Niger.
Jean Rouch (b. 1917) breakthrough work in cinema verite in the 1960s helped inspire the direct cinema movement in the U.S. and the nouvelle vague (new wave) in France where he was a key figure in the cinemateque francaise and the founding director of the Comite du Film Ethnographique at the Musee de I'Homme. His African work, characterized by innovations such as “shared anthropology”' and “ethno-fiction”, is noted for its embrace of both the daily life and imagination of a new generation of Africans. He also played an active role in helping to launch African cinema.