‘GLEANING TRUTHS’ – UK-wide Agnès Varda retrospective features these eight stunning classics.
“The tool of every self-portrait is the mirror. You see yourself in it. Turn it the other way, and you see the world” Agnès Varda
Revered for her bold political and autobiographically inspired work, Agnès Varda is a seminal feminist filmmaker and matriarch of the French New Wave. Her influential career began in the 1950s with La Pointe Courte – often considered the unofficial first film of the New Wave – and continues seven decades later, as in 2017 she became the first female director to be awarded an honorary Oscar.
LA POINTE COURTE (1955) – 86 mins
Anticipating the style and attitude of the New Wave, Agnès Varda’s directorial debut remains as fresh and original as the day it was made.
Set in a declining Mediterranean fishing village, the film portrays both the complex relationship between a married couple, exceptionally played by Silvia Monfort and Philippe Noiret, and the economic difficulties facing the wider community.
Remarkably assured and insightful, the film bears the realist approach, social comment and filmmaking flair that would become Varda’s hallmarks.
CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 (1962) – 90 mins
Agnès Varda’s skilfully captures Paris at the height of the 60s in this intriguing tale expertly presented in real time about a singer whose life is in turmoil as she awaits a test result from a biopsy.
As Cléo readies herself to meet with her doctor she meets several friends and strangers, and grapples with her idea of her own mortality.
LE BONHEUR (1965) – 118 mins
In one of Agnès Varda’s more provocative films, she presents us with the dilemma faced by husband and father Francois (Jean-Claude Drouot) who finds himself falling in love with an attractive postal worker.
What follows is a detailed study of adult fidelity and happiness, which will ultimately end with major repercussions for all parties involved.
ONE SINGS, THE OTHER DOESN’T (original title: L’une chante, l’autre pas) (1977) – 116 mins
Agnès Varda focuses on the intertwined lives of two women brought together during the struggle of the women’s movement in 1970s France.
This subject that remains all too familiar with Varda who was personally involved with the movement.
VAGABOND (1985) – 105 mins
Sandrine Bonnaire won a Best Actress César for her portrayal as Mona – a young and defiant drifter in this tragic story.
Using a largely non-professional cast, Agnès Varda’s splintered portrait of the enigmatic woman is told through flashbacks of those who encountered her.
JACQUOT DE NANTES (1991) – 118 mins
Jacquot de Nantes tells the story of a child and his obsession of pursuing his dream to become a filmmaker.
How he buys his first camera, shoots his first amateur film which marks the beginning of one of the most prestigious careers of any French director: Jacques Demy.
THE GLEANERS AND I (2000) – 82 mins
An 1867 painting by Jean-Francois Millet inspired septuagenarian documentarian Agnes Varda to cross the French countryside to videotape people who scavenge. Taking everything from surplus in the fields, to rubbish in trashcans, to oysters washed up after a storm, the “gleaners” range from those sadly in need to those hoping to recreate the community activity of centuries past, and still others who use whatever they find to cobble together a rough art. Highlighted by Varda’s amusing narration.
THE BEACHES OF AGNÈS (2008) – 110 mins
In this autobiographical documentary, celebrated French filmmaker Agnes Varda provides a window into her eventful life as she revisits various locales that have been important to her. Interspersed between these trips are interviews with Varda’s collaborators and family members, as well as archive footage and still photographs. This eclectic mix provides both a history of the subject and an illuminating tour of an artist’s mind and creative process.
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