Presented in collaboration with the Unifrance and the French Film
and TV Office in Los Angeles, French Embassy.
With the support of E.L.M.A.
(European Languages and Movies in America)
A gifted and outspoken feminist and one of the most acclaimed
directors anywhere in the world, Agnès Varda could be considered the prototype of
todays independent filmmaker. Varda is a survivor, a stubborn and patient observer
of her time and her people, like the pop singer in CLÉO FROM 5 TO 7, the lovers in
LE BONHEUR (HAPPINESS) or the drifter in VAGABOND. "I have fought so much
since I started
for something that comes from emotion, from visual emotion, sound
emotion, feeling, and finding a shape for that," Varda has said.
Varda directed her first feature, LA POINTE COURTE, in 1954, with no
formal training in filmmaking. The movie has often been identified as the film that
started the French New Wave ("and a famous flop," as Varda has wryly noted).
Along with Alain Resnais and Chris Marker, she made up the so-called "Left Bank
Group" of the early 1960s, distinct from other New Wave directors for their interest
in both documentary and fiction and their passion for both political and social
filmmaking. Her marriage to Jacques Demy (1931-1990) made her one-half of the most beloved
filmmaking couple of their day, and her tribute to Demy, JACQUOT DE NANTES, is one
of her finest films.
In 1962, Varda directed the legendary CLÉO FROM 5 TO 7, a
French New Wave classic about two hours in the life of a pop singer. The films sense
of profound realism crossed with lyrical visual poetry pointed the way toward much of
Vardas later work, which would alternate between acclaimed documentaries and
romantic but naturalistic fiction features. Capable of crafting both gritty cinematic time
capsules and expressionistic mood pieces like LES CREATURES, the breadth of Vardas
talent is nearly as astonishing as its depth. For more than 50 years, she has continued to
experiment and innovate, creating one of the first digital video masterpieces (THE
GLEANERS AND I) as well as timely portraits of cities from L.A. (LIONS LOVE) to Paris.
She has worked in nearly every form of filmmaking that exists, from shorts to
documentaries to a delightful celebration of film history (ONE HUNDRED AND ONE NIGHTS),
and has mastered them all.
As if that werent enough, Varda also helmed one of the
greatest French films of the 1980s, VAGABOND, and published a highly acclaimed
autobiography. Recent years have seen no slowing down of her output and no lessening of
her talent: Her latest film, THE
BEACHES OF AGNÈS, won the Cesar (the French equivalent of the Academy Award) for
best documentary. Varda has been quoted as saying that she wants "to illuminate
womens livesnot only their hardships, although theyre important, but
also the light, the transparency, the pleasure of being a woman." While Varda has
certainly accomplished this, the range of her work is more expansive than perhaps even she
knowsit is not enough to label her a feminist filmmaker, or a New Wave filmmaker, or
a political filmmaker. She is simply one of the greatest living directors in any country,
working in any language, in any form.
Agnes Varda's official website.
Senses of Cinema
Article on Agnes Varda
The Cinematheque is proud to present a sneak
preview of THE BEACHES OF AGNÈS along with a series of Vardas masterpieces, with
the director herself live and in-person.
Wednesday, June 24 - 7:30 PM
Kevin Thomas Favorites:
JACQUOT DE NANTES, 1991, Ciné-Tamaris, 118
min. Director Agnès Vardas tender farewell to her late husband, Jacques
Demy, JACQUOT re-creates the early years of Demys life in the port city of
Nantes, delicately interwoven with clips from LOLA, THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG and his
other films. Interspersed throughout the film are intimate close-ups of Demys
fragile body, tenderly filmed by Varda in one of her most personal and affecting films.
With Philippe Maron, Edouard Joubeaud, Laurent Monnier. "Has there been
anything quite like JACQUOT DE NANTES?
It deserves to be called a CINEMA PARADISO
without self-indulgence, or a 400 BLOWS without self-pity." Film
Plus short: "Uncle Yanco", (1967,
Ciné-Tamaris,, 22 min.) While in San Francisco for the promotion of her last film in
October 1967, Agnès Varda, tipped by her friend Tom Luddy, gets to know a relative
she had never heard of before, Jean Varda, nicknamed Yanco. This hitherto unknown
uncle lives on a boat in Sausalito, is a painter, has adopted a hippie lifestyle and loves
life. The meeting is a very happy one. Discussion following
with director Agnes Varda, moderated by film critic Kevin Thomas.
Thursday, June 25 - 7:30 PM
Agnès Vardas Masterpiece Documentaries:
THE GLEANERS & I (LES
GLANEURS ET LA GLANEUSE), 2001, Zeitgeist, 82 min. Once again Agnes Varda uses the
documentary format as a jumping-off point for an expressionistic diary in which her own
life intercedes. A marvelous "wandering road documentary" that focuses on the
centuries-old tradition of "gleaning" in France -- literally picking up the
castoffs of others. Varda follows rural scavengers who gather leftover vegetables after
the harvest, and urban scavengers who collect discarded food and appliances from the
streets of Paris. Interwoven with these are Varda's own intimate thoughts on aging,
humorous interviews with judges and attorneys who debate, Monty Python-style, the legality
of gleaning while standing in potato fields, and a host of other spontaneous musings on
French art and culture. Through it all, Varda's patient sense of social obligation shines
through, as she asks again and again, "How can one live on the leftovers of
others?" "I managed to approach [the gleaners], to bring them out of their
anonymity. I discovered their generosity. There are many ways of being poor, having common
sense, anger or humor." -- Agnès Varda.
THE GLEANERS & I:
TWO YEARS LATER, 2002, Zeitgeist, 60 min. Varda's exuberantly inventive
follow-up to her critically lauded essay film, in which she revisits characters from the
original and further explores what it means to be a gleaner. Discussion in between
films with director Agnès Varda.
Friday, June 26 - 7:30 PM
LIONS LOVE (AND LIES), 1969,
Ciné-Tamaris, 110 min. A blissed-out experiment in anarchy and illusion, featuring Warhol
superstar Viva (from LONESOME COWBOYS) and "Hair" authors James Rado and Jerome
Ragni playing "themselves" -- three innocents adrift in Hollywood. Freely mixing
improvisation with scripted dialogue, and occasional news reports on the shootings of
Robert Kennedy and Warhol, which interrupt the film, LIONS LOVE is Agnes Vardas
gloriously screwy time capsule of L.A. in its free-love acid-tripping let-it-all-hang-out
heyday. In English.
MURS MURS, 1980, Ciné-Tamaris, 81
min. Essential viewing for all Angelenos, MURS MURS is Vardas lively tribute to this
citys outdoor murals, from the riotous Pig Paradise in Vernon to The Fall of Icarus
in Venice. Along the way, she captures priceless interviews with the muralists themselves,
including 23-year old Judy Baca, who observes, "I started painting because I
that I had never seen a Chicana in a museum." In English. Discussion in between films with director Agnès Varda.
Saturday, June 27 - 7:30 PM
Agnes Vardas Classics:
CLÉO FROM 5 TO 7 (CLEO DE 5 A
7), 1961, Ciné-Tamaris, 90 min. Dir. Agnès Vardas international
breakthrough film, CLEO ranks with BREATHLESS and THE 400 BLOWS as one of the seminal
works of the French New Wave. Two hours in the life of a hopelessly pretty pop singer (Corrine
Marchand), who may or may not be dying of cancer. Vain, childish and selfish at the
start, Cléos journey through Paris becomes a journey of self-discovery.
"The streets of Paris are filmed like they have never again been filmed" - Telerama
VAGABOND (SANS TOIT NI LOI), 1985,
Ciné-Tamaris, 107 min. Agnes Vardas most acclaimed work since CLÉO and
arguably the greatest French film of the 1980s, VAGABOND tells the brutal, simple, yet
unrelenting story of the last months in the life of a young female drifter. Sandrine
Bonnaires harrowing performance in the lead role made her an overnight
international star at the age of 18. (The French title of the film literally translates as
"without roof or law.") Shot in a semi-documentary style, the film opens
abruptly on the body of Mona, frozen to death in a ditch on the side of the road.
Interspersed with flashbacks of Monas life as a drifter are reminiscences by the
people she met along the way. In spite of Vardas attention, Mona ultimately remains
unknowable, even to herself. She is a cipher, misunderstood by those she has encountered
even as they recall their impressions and interactions with her for the camera. Discussion in between films with director Agnès Varda. Trailer
Wednesday, July 1 - 7:30PM
Sneak Preview! THE
BEACHES OF AGNÈS (LES PLAGES D AGNÈS), 2008, 110 min.
"If you opened people up, you would find landscapes," Varda says in the
opening voiceover of her new film. "If you opened me up, you would find beaches."
Vardas latest work is an autobiographical essay that takes a nostalgic yet
penetrating look back at her life and films. Using photographs, recreations and scenes
from her films, Varda illustrates the various stages of her life, from her marriage to
Jacques Demy and his death in 1990 to her childhood memories of Sète, the fishing village
that would become the subject of her first film. Woven through these reminiscences are
lonely, dreamlike sequences shot on the beaches that have influenced and inspired her.
Plus US Premiere! "Gwen From Brittany," a short portrait of the
encounters over the last decade of Agnès Varda and Gwen Deglise, programmer at the
American Cinematheque, shot at the Aero and Egyptian Theatres while Varda was in Los
Angeles shooting THE BEACHES OF AGNÈS. Discussion in between
films with director Agnès Varda. Trailer Roger