Born in South Africa, Rina Sherman was exiled from the country and settled in France in 1984 where she has been living and working since. A classical musician by training, she worked as independent theatre actress and in television before turning to filmmaking. In 1990 she completed a doctorate with distinction at the Sorbonne, supervised by Jean Rouch.
Her first novel, UITREIS, (Leaving) was published in South Africa in 1997 to critical acclaim. Writer, filmmaker and anthropologist, Rina has initiated several cultural projects. She was audiovisual director for the exhibition South Africa: Music of Freedom in La Villette, 1995. That same year, she was awarded the prestigious French prize, Villa Médicis Hors les Murs that allowed her to undertake extensive research in the film archives of the Southern African region.
In 1996, she organized Jean Rouch's tour of South African universities in collaboration of the French Institute in South Africa (IFAS) and the Mission for Cooperation and Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Namibia.
In 1997 Rina was awarded a Lavoisier Research Bursary by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the project The Ovahimba Years, a multi-disciplinary long-term research programme (drawings, oral tradition, video, film, photography) aimed at creating a living trace of Ovahimba cultural heritage. For a period of seven years, she filmed and photographed aspects of the daily and ritual lives of the Ovahimba.
In 2002, she presented a multimedia exhibition, Work in Progress, at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre in Windhoek. In 2003, she extended her research into the south west of Angola, and has covered the entire Otjiherero socio-linguistic cultural heritage landscape. The project received support from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, various EU Embassies, The Ford Foundation and numerous private sponsors. She is currently processing the data of her research and documentation results collected over a periond of seven years in the field, writing and editing films about her years with the Ovahimba, as well as working toward the long term conservation of The Ovahimba Years Collection. In November 2011, a retrospective of Rina Sherman's films was held at the Quai Branly Museum, with two programs, Life in the City and The Ovahimba Years.
Ma vie avec les Ovahimba (My life with Ovahimba)
Press release in Français or English
The article, Reading Between the Lines: Understanding Assistants in Fieldwork
The Ovahimba Years official website