French director Agnes Varda poses in Paris onJanuary 17, 1986 in front of a poster advertising her new film "Sans toit ni loi" (Without roof nor law) starring French actress Sandrine Bonnaire nomine for Best Actress for the 86 Cesars. Varda was awarded the Golden Lion was awarded at the 42nd Venice film festival on September 6, 1985. AFP PHOTO (Photo by JEAN-LOUP GAUTREAU / AFP)
Agnes Varda: Six key films
Agnes Varda never followed script and her filmography reveals an ever-inventive, curious eye unafraid to use her own life as a launchpad
The French New Wave’s only woman director, Agnes Varda never followed script and her filmography reveals an ever-inventive, curious eye unafraid to use her own life as a launchpad.
Here are six of her key films:
Cleo de 5 à 7 (1962)
The death bells ring at 7pm, thinks Cleo, the title character of Varda’s second feature about a model’s anguished two-hour wait around Paris for the results of her cancer test.
The tale propelled Varda to the frontline of the French New Wave.
Inspired by a true story, Varda picked an inscrutable Sandrine Bonnaire to play her wild-child vagabond roaming France and shunning social conventions only to finish dead in a ditch in this affecting portrayal of a life on the margins.
Jacquot de Nantes (1991)
This biopic, in the form of experimental documentary and personal homage, weaves film clips and home movies to chart the life of Varda’s late husband Jacques Demy, the celebrated director of film musical classics such as “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (1964).
The Gleaners and I (2000)
For the publicity of this film, Varda dressed up as a potato, the essential ingredient in her on-the-ground documentary of the lives of countryside gleaners of already-farmed fields whom she joined, offering a tender portrait of humble self-sufficiency.
Les Plages d’Agnes (2009)
Varda’s tiny round frame and white-topped bowl cut became a familiar sight in her films, culminating with this self-biopic marking her 80th birthday and told through all those who have known her and the various locations that have touched her life.
Faces Places (2017)
In this Oscar-nominated documentary, Varda hops into a van with the hip young French street artist JR for a roadtrip around France to shoot interesting people and places they come across.
The pair make an unlikely but endearing double act with Varda, her eyesight failing, at one point admitting: “Every new person I meet feels like my last one.”