Les Maîtres fous is set in the region of Accra, in Ghana, and chronicles the great annual possession-ceremonies of the Hauka (spirits of power) and of the winds who are said to bring madness. During the ceremonies, the Hauka spirits seize the initiated, who, entranced, take on the identities of colonial authorities like the guard, the general, the admiral, but also the locomotive – all those roles are played by the possessed.
It was toward the end of the twenties that the Hauka cult emerged in the Niger region. During the thirties, many of its followers, persecuted by the French colonial regime and ostracized by orthodox Moslems, moved to the coastal region, where they lived as migrant workers.
“Rouch’s commentary tries to interpret the cult as a sort of adaptation-therapy. The film itself has lost nothing of its astonishing power, a power that resembles an intense vortex forcefully attracting the unknown .” M. Friedrich
Regie: Jean Rouch
36 min, 16mm, Farbe, OF mit franz. UT