Senior HTF Member
- Jul 3, 1997
- Real Name
- Ronald Epstein
The Complete Films of Agnès Varda
A founder of the French New Wave who became an international art-house icon, Agnès Varda was a fiercely independent, restlessly curious visionary whose work was at once personal and passionately committed to the world around her. In an abundant career in which she never stopped expanding the notion of what a movie can be, Varda forged a unique cinematic vocabulary that frequently blurs the boundaries between narrative and documentary, and entwines loving portraits of her friends, her family, and her own inner world with a social consciousness that was closely attuned to the 1960s counterculture, the women’s liberation movement, the plight of the poor and socially marginalized, and the ecology of our planet. This comprehensive collection places Varda’s filmography in the context of her parallel work as a photographer and multimedia artist—all of it a testament to the radical vision, boundless imagination, and radiant spirit of a true original for whom every act of creation was a vital expression of her very being.
PROGRAMS AND FILMS
Agnès Forever — Varda by Agnès (2019), Les 3 boutons (2015) Early Varda — La Pointe Courte (1955), Ô saisons, ô châteaux(1958), Du côté de la côte (1958) Around Paris — Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962), Les fiancés du pont Macdonald (1962), L’opéra-mouffe(1958), Les dites cariatides (1984), T'as de beaux escaliers, tu sais (1986) Rue Daguerre — Daguerréotypes (1975), Le lion volatil (2003) Married Life — Le bonheur (1965), Les créatures(1966), Elsa la Rose (1966) In California — Uncle Yanco (1968), Black Panthers (1970), Lions Love (. . . and Lies) (1969), Mur Murs (1981), Documenteur (1981) Her Body, Herself — One Sings, the Other Doesn't (1977), Réponse de femmes (1975), Plaisir d'amour en Iran (1977) No Shelter — Vagabond (1985), 7 p., cuis., s. de b. . . . (à saisir) (1985) Jane B. — Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988), Kung-Fu Master! (1988) Jacques Demy — Jacquot de Nantes (1991), The Young Girls Turn 25 (1993), The World of Jacques Demy (1995) Simon Cinéma — One Hundred and One Nights (1995) La glaneuse — The Gleaners and I (2000), The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later (2002) Visual Artist — Faces Places, codirected with JR (2017), Salut les cubains (1964), Ulysse (1982), Ydessa, les ours et etc. . . . (2004) Here and There — Agnès de ci de là Varda (2011) Beaches — The Beaches of Agnès (2008)
FILMS IN THIS SET
Varda by Agnès
The final film from the late, beloved Agnès Varda is a characteristically playful, profound, and personal summation of the director’s own brilliant career. At once impish and wise, Varda acts as our spirit guide on a free-associative tour through her six-decade artistic journey, shedding new light on her films, photography, and recent installation works while offering her one-of-a-kind reflections on everything from filmmaking to feminism to aging. Suffused with the people, places, and things she loved—Jacques Demy, cats, colors, beaches, heart-shaped potatoes—the wonderfully idiosyncratic work of imaginative autobiography Varda by Agnès is a warmly human, touchingly bittersweet parting gift from one of cinema’s most luminous talents.
La Pointe Courte
The great Agnès Varda's film career began with this graceful, penetrating study of a marriage on the rocks, set against the backdrop of a small Mediterranean fishing village. Both a stylized depiction of the complicated relationship between a married couple (played by Silvia Monfort and Philippe Noiret) and a documentary-like look at the daily struggles of the locals, Varda's discursive, gorgeously filmed debut was radical enough to later be considered one of the progenitors of the coming French New Wave.
Cléo from 5 to 7
Agnès Varda eloquently captures Paris in the sixties with this real-time portrait of a singer (Corinne Marchand) set adrift in the city as she awaits test results of a biopsy. A chronicle of the minutes of one woman’s life, Cléo from 5 to 7 is a spirited mix of vivid vérité and melodrama, featuring a score by Michel Legrand (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and cameos by Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina.
Spending most of her days at home following the birth of her son but curious as ever about the people and places that surrounded her, Agnès Varda found inspiration for Daguerréotypes just outside her door: on Paris’s rue Daguerre, where she had lived and worked since the 1950s. The director turns her camera on the business owners whose shops are the street’s lifeblood: bakers, tailors, butchers, perfumers, music-store clerks, driving instructors, and others, who, between the everyday rituals of their work, talk of their lives, relationships, and dreams. Blending her photographer’s eye for still portraiture with her filmmaker’s gift for finding visual rhymes and resonances between images, Varda reveals the rich social fabric of an entire world—all without leaving her block.
Though married to the good-natured, beautiful Thérèse (Claire Drouot), young husband and father François (Jean-Claude Drouot) finds himself falling unquestioningly into an affair with an attractive postal worker. One of Agnès Varda's most provocative films, Le bonheur examines, with a deceptively cheery palette and the spirited strains of Mozart, the ideas of fidelity and happiness in a modern, self-centered world.
One of Agnès Varda least-seen films is also one of her most fascinating: an eccentrically imaginative science-fiction fantasia that touches on human nature, free will, and the creative process. Working with major stars for the first time on a feature film, Varda casts Michel Piccoli as a writer and Catherine Deneuve as his silent wife, a couple who relocate to the island of Noirmoutier (a longtime second home for Varda and her husband, Jacques Demy) where strange goings-on hint at a sinister force controlling the minds and actions of the residents. Slipping between “reality” and fiction, genre spectacle and avant-garde experimentation, Les créatures is a beguiling, endlessly inventive exploration of the mysterious alchemy that transforms life into art.
In her effervescent first California film, Agnès Varda delves into her own family history. The short documentary Uncle Yanco features Varda tracking down a Greek emigrant relative she’s never met, discovering an artist and kindred soul leading a bohemian life in Sausalito.
Uncle Yanco was restored by the Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata in association with Ciné-Tamaris and The Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by the Annenberg Foundation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and The Film Foundation.
Agnès Varda turns her camera on an Oakland demonstration against the imprisonment of activist and Black Panthers cofounder Huey P. Newton. In addition to evincing Varda’s fascination with her adopted surroundings and her empathy, this perceptive short is also a powerful political statement.
Black Panthers was restored by the Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata in association with Ciné-Tamaris and The Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by the Annenberg Foundation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and The Film Foundation.
Lions Love (. . . and Lies)
Agnès Varda brings New York counterculture to Los Angeles. In a rented house in the sun-soaked Hollywood Hills, a woman and two men—Viva, of Warhol Factory fame, and James Rado and Gerome Ragni, who created and starred in the rock musical Hair—delight in one another’s bodies while musing on love, stardom, and politics. They are soon joined by underground director Shirley Clarke, playing herself as well as functioning as a surrogate for Varda. Lions Love (. . . and Lies) is a metacinematic inquiry into the alternating currents of whimsy and tragedy that typified late-sixties America.
Lions Love (. . . and Lies) was restored by the Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata in association with Ciné-Tamaris and The Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by the Annenberg Foundation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and The Film Foundation.
After returning to Los Angeles from France in 1979, Agnès Varda created this kaleidoscopic documentary about the striking murals that decorate the city. Bursting with color and vitality, Mur Murs is as much an invigorating study of community and diversity as it is an essential catalog of unusual public art.
Mur Murs was restored by the Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata in association with Ciné-Tamaris and The Film Foundation. Restoration funding provided by the Annenberg Foundation, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and The Film Foundation.
This small-scale fiction about a divorced mother and her child (played by Agnès Varda’s own son) leading a quiet existence on L.A.’s margins was made directly after Mur Murs, and though Documenteur is different in form and tone from that film, the two are complexly interwoven, with overlapping images and ideas. This meditative portrait of urban isolation overflows with subtle visual poetry.
One Sings, the Other Doesn’t
In the early 1960s in Paris, two young women become friends. Pomme is an aspiring singer. Suzanne is a pregnant country girl unable to support a third child. Pomme lends Suzanne the money for an illegal abortion, but a sudden tragedy soon separates them. Ten years later, they reunite at a demonstration and pledge to keep in touch via postcard, as each of their lives is irrevocably changed by the women’s liberation movement. A buoyant hymn to sisterly solidarity rooted in the hard-won victories of a generation of women, One Sings, the Other Doesn’t is one of Agnès Varda’s warmest and most politically trenchant films, a feminist musical for the ages.
Sandrine Bonnaire won the Best Actress César for her portrayal of the defiant young drifter Mona, found frozen to death in a ditch at the beginning of Vagabond. Agnès Varda pieces together Mona’s story through flashbacks told by those who encountered her (played by a largely nonprofessional cast), producing a splintered portrait of an enigmatic woman. With its sparse, poetic imagery, Vagabond(Sans toit ni loi) is a stunner, and won Varda the top prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Jane B. par Agnès V.
The interests, obsessions, and fantasies of two singular artists converge in this inspired collaboration between Agnès Varda and her longtime friend the actor Jane Birkin. Made over the course of a year and motivated by Birkin’s fortieth birthday—a milestone she admits to some anxiety over—Jane B. par Agnès V. contrasts the private, reflective Birkin with Birkin the icon, as Varda casts her variously as a classical muse, a femme fatale, a Spanish dancer, Joan of Arc, and even a deadpan Laurel opposite a clownish Hardy in a fanciful slapstick spoof. Made in the spirit of pure, uninhibited play, this free-flowing dual portrait unfolds as a shared reverie between two women as they collapse the boundaries between artist and subject.
Made concurrently with Agnès Varda’s portrait of Jane Birkin, Jane B. par Agnès V., Kung-Fu Master! is a true family affair, achieving a sense of of lived-in intimacy by casting the actor’s real-life relatives, including daughters Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, as themselves. Varda and Birkin give the familiar theme of a misunderstood couple searching for a place where their love can survive a provocative twist in this daring romance, in which Birkin (who wrote the story that provided the inspiration for the film) plays a middle-aged woman involved with a fourteen-year-old, video game–obsessed boy (Varda’s son, Mathieu Demy). The taboo relationship plays out with supreme delicacy and restraint, as Varda transforms the explosive premise into a disarmingly tender portrait of a woman’s search for lost youth.
Jacquot de Nantes
Agnès Varda’s tender evocation of the childhood of her husband, Jacques Demy—a dream project that she realized for him when he became too ill to direct it himself—is a wonder-filled portrait of the artist as a young man and an enchanting ode to the magic of cinema. Shot in Demy’s hometown of Nantes (including the house he grew up in), this imaginative blend of narrative and documentary traces his coming of age as he finds escape from the tumult of World War II in puppet shows, fairy tales, opera, and, above all, movies—the formative aesthetic experiences that would fuel his vivid Technicolor imagination and find unforgettable expression in his exuberant New Wave masterworks. Interspersing intimate footage of the older Demy reflecting on his life’s journey, Jacquot de Nantes is a poignant love letter from one visionary artist to another.
One Hundred and One Nights
A celebration of cinema’s centennial, One Hundred and One Nights finds Agnès Varda at her most playful. It is also perhaps her unlikeliest project: a star-studded comic fantasy with an extravagant sense of style and an adoring but slightly off-kilter perspective on the magic of filmmaking. French New Wave icon Michel Simon is a mysterious aging impresario named Simon Cinéma who has hired a young film student, Camille (Julie Gayet), to simply sit with him at his mansion and talk about movies. Skeptical yet increasingly enchanted, Camille bears witness to cinema itself coming to life, allowing Varda to wittily integrate a mind-boggling parade of appearances by screen legends (Catherine Deneuve, Marcello Mastroianni, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Anouk Aimée, Robert De Niro, and many others), and attest to the vigorous health of the movies at the close of the twentieth century.
The Gleaners and I
Agnès Varda’s extraordinary late-career renaissance began with this wonderfully idiosyncratic, self-reflexive documentary in which the French cinema icon explores the world of modern-day gleaners: those living on the margins who survive by foraging for what society throws away. Embracing the intimacy and freedom of digital filmmaking, Varda posits herself as a kind of gleaner of images and ideas, one whose generous, expansive vision makes room for ruminations on everything from aging to the birth of cinema to the beauty of heart-shaped potatoes. By turns playful, philosophical, and subtly political, The Gleaners and I is a warmly human reflection on the contradictions of our consumerist world from an artist who, like her subjects, finds unexpected richness where few think to look.
The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later
Agnès Varda’s charming follow-up to her acclaimed documentary The Gleaners and I is a deceptively unassuming grace note that takes us deeper into the world of those who find purpose and beauty in the refuse of society. Revisiting many of the original film’s subjects to explore the often unexpected effects that their participation in the project has had on their lives, this wonderfully warm and human epilogue once again takes gleaning as the starting point from which to explore what most interests Varda: the richness, complexity, and poignancy of life outside the mainstream. What emerges is a crazy-quilt tapestry of the personal, the political, and the esoteric that celebrates the spirit and creativity of those who forge their own path.
A late-career triumph of lovingly handcrafted humanism, Agnès Varda’s Academy Award–nominated penultimate film sees the octogenarian director joining forces with the thirty-something street photographer JR. Crisscrossing rural France in their roving camera-mobile—a truck that produces larger-than-life portraits of the people they meet, which are then pasted onto local walls—the pair encounter an array of farmers, former miners, dockworkers, and others whose stories form a collage of a country where meaningful traditions persist in the face of encroaching modernity. A detour-rich road movie, a charming intergenerational buddy film, and an ode to artisans of all stripes, Faces Places finds Varda making new memories while revisiting old ones, yielding what is ultimately a bittersweet, puckishly profound reflection on the ephemeral nature of art, relationships, and life itself.
Agnès de ci de là Varda
A freewheeling travelogue, a kaleidoscopic survey of the contemporary art scene, and a loving ode to creativity in all its forms, this five-part miniseries by the inimitable Agnès Varda takes us on a journey of discovery as she travels the globe—from Stockholm to St. Petersburg, Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, Mexico City to Los Angeles—meeting with friends, artists, and fellow filmmakers. Along the way there are chats with titan auteurs Chris Marker (offering a window into his virtual reality world) and a 102-year-old Manoel de Oliveira (doing his best Chaplin impersonation); visits to the Hermitage Museum, the Venice Biennale, and the home of Frida Kahlo; glimpses into the studios of acclaimed visual artists like Christian Boltanski, Annette Messager, and Pierre Soulages; and Varda’s casually profound musings on everything from rivers to the Dutch masters to her own photography and installation works. Never before released in the United States, this catalog of wonders great and small is a unique invitation to see the world through the eyes of one of cinema’s most playfully perceptive artists.
The Beaches of Agnès
“If we opened people up, we’d find landscapes. If we opened me up, we’d find beaches.” Originally intended to be Agnès Varda’s farewell to filmmaking, this enchanting auto-portrait, made in her eightieth year, is a freewheeling journey through her life, career, and artistic philosophy. Revisiting the places that shaped her—from the North Sea beaches of Belgium where she spent her childhood to the Mediterranean village where she shot her first film to the boardwalks of Los Angeles where she lived with her husband, Jacques Demy—Varda reflects on a lifetime of creation and inspiration, successes and setbacks, heartbreak and joy. Replete with images of wonder and whimsy—the ocean reflected in a kaleidoscope of mirrors, the streets of Paris transformed into a sandy beach, the filmmaker herself ensconced in the belly of a whale—The Beaches of Agnès is a playful and poignant record of a life lived fully and passionately in the name of cinema.
August 22, 2020
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