SHARE
COPY LINK

FILM

Legendary French New Wave film director Agnes Varda dies at the age of 90

French film director Agnes Varda, who emerged in the New Wave of intimate cinema of the 1960s and continued with artful documentaries and films mixing real-life events with fiction, has died aged 90, her family said on Friday.

Legendary French New Wave film director Agnes Varda dies at the age of 90
Film director Agnes Varda has died. Photo: AFP

“The director and artist Agnes Varda died at her home overnight on Thursday of complications from cancer. 

“She was surrounded by her family and friends,” the family said in a statement.


Agnes Varda pictured in 2008, promoting her film Les Plages d'Agnes. Photo: AFP

Born on May 30, 1928, Varda often used her own life as the framework for her work, which brought her an honorary Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival in 2015 – the first female to win the coveted award.

She worked right up to the end of her life, with a new autobiographical documentary premiering at the Berlin film festival just last month.

She won an honorary Oscar last November at 89 for her documentary “Faces Places”, which saw her ditch her walking stick for an impromptu celebratory dance with Hollywood star Angelina Jolie.

She made “Faces Places” with the hip young French street artist JR – more than half a century her junior – hopping into a van with him at the wheel to drive around France to shoot interesting people and places they came across.

The pair made an unlikely but endearing double act. With her eyesight failing but imagination undimmed, Varda at one point admits, “Every new person I meet feels like my last one.”

The film took her back to her cinematic roots, with a visit to her reclusive New Wave colleague Jean-Luc Godard, just over the border in Switzerland.

Varda and her late husband, director Jacques Demy, were one of the New Wave's great double acts, with her often recording life on set and pitching in on his masterpieces like “The Young Girls of Rochefort”, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” and “Bay of Angels”.  

 


Agnes Varda with street artist JR at the Oscars in 2018. Photo: AFP

She made her name in 1962 with her first feature “Cleo de 5 a 7” (Cleo from 5 to 7), about a hypochondriac singer who gets increasingly worried that she has cancer while she is waiting for test results from her doctor.

But it was in her documentaries and films that mixed real-life events with fiction that Varda weaved her very particular brand of gritty poetry.

She won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival and a host of other awards for her 1985 film “Vagabond”, which retraced the life of a homeless woman who was found frozen to death in a ditch.

Her social conscience was also clear in her now classic documentary, “The Gleaners & I” (2000) — about people who comb the fields after the harvest for leftover grain and fruit, and urban gleaners who make a living from junk. 

It is on the BBC's list of the best films made since the turn of the century.

Varda never hid her interest in politics, making a series of documentaries in the United States and Cuba as both countries reeled from 
social and political revolutions, including “Black Panthers” (1968), “Hi Cubans!” (1971) and “Far From Vietnam” (1967).

Born in Belgium in 1928 to a French mother and Greek father whose family had fled Turkey, Varda changed her first name from Arlette to Agnes when she turned 18 and began her career as a photographer.  

Her work often crossed over between cinema and art and her own personal story, like her documentary “Uncle Yanco” (1967) about San Francisco hippie artist Jean Varda — a relative of hers.

But some of her most poignant work focused on the three decades she spent with Demy until his untimely death in 1990 – “Jacquot de Nantes” (Jacky from Nantes), “The Beaches of Agnes” and “The World of Jacques Demy”. 

Born on May 30, 1928, Varda often used her own life as the framework for her work, which brought her an honorary Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival in 2015 — the first female to win the coveted award.

“Her work and her life are infused with the spirit of freedom, the art of driving back boundaries, a fierce determination and a conviction that brooks  no obstacles.

“Simply put, Varda seems capable of accomplishing everything she wants,” the Cannes festival said at the time.

 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

FILM

French films with English subtitles to watch in November

As days get shorter and temperatures drop, November is a great month to enjoy a warm and comforting moment at the cinema. Here’s a round up of the French movies with English subtitles to see in Paris this month.

Cinema in France
Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

The cinema group Lost in Frenchlation runs regular screenings of French films in the capital, with English subtitles to help non-native speakers follow the action. The club kicks off every screening with drinks at the cinema’s bar one hour before the movie, so it’s also a fun way to meet people if you’re new to Paris.

These are the events they have coming up in November.

Friday, November 5th

Boîte Noire – What happened on board the Dubai-Paris flight before it crashed in the Alps? In this thriller Matthieu, a young and talented black box analyst played by Pierre Niney (star of Yves Saint-Laurent among other movies) is determined to solve the reason behind this deadly crash, no matter the costs. 

The screening will take place at the Club de l’étoile cinema at 8pm. But you can arrive early for drinks at the bar from 7pm. 

Tickets are €10 full price, €8 for students and all other concessions, and can be reserved here.

Sunday, November 14th

Tralala – In the mood for music? This new delightful French musical brings you into the life of Tralala (played by Mathieu Amalric), a 48 years old, homeless and worn-out street singer, who one day gets mistaken for someone else. Tralala sees an opportunity to get a better life by taking on a new personality. He now has a brother, nephews, ex-girlfriends, and maybe even a daughter. But where is the lie? Where is the truth? And who is he, deep down?

The night will start with drinks from 6pm followed by the screening at 7pm at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema. There is also a two-hour cinema-themed walk where you’ll be taken on a “musicals movie tour” in the heart of Paris, which begins at 4pm.

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here. Tickets for the walking tour cost €20 and must be reserved online here.

Thursday, November 18th

Illusions Perdues – Based on the great novel series by Honoré de Balzac between 1837 and 1843, this historical drama captures the writer Lucien’s life and dilemmas who dreams about a great career of writing and moves to the city to get a job at a newspaper. As a young poet entering the field of journalism, he is constantly challenged by his desire to write dramatic and eye-catching stories for the press. But are they all true?

The evening will kick off with drinks at L’Entrepôt cinema bar at 7pm, followed by the movie screening at 8pm. Tickets are available online here, and cost €8.50 full price; €7 for students and all other concessions.

Sunday, November 21st

Eiffel – Having just finished working on the Statue of Liberty, Gustave Eiffel (played by Romain Duris) is tasked with creating a spectacular monument for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris. It’s ultimately his love story with Adrienne Bourgès (Emma Mackey) that will inspire him to come up with the idea for the Eiffel Tower.

After a first screening last month, Lost in Frenchlation is organising a new one at the Luminor Hôtel de Ville cinema, with pre-screening drinks at the cinema bar. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here

Thursday, November 25th

Les Héroïques – Michel is a former junkie and overgrown child who only dreams of motorbikes and of hanging out with his 17-year-old son Léo and his friends. But at 50 years old, he now has to handle the baby he just had with his ex, and try not to make the same mistakes he has done in the past. 

The film will be followed by a Q&A with the director Maxime Roy who will discuss his very first feature. 

Tickets cost €10, or €8 for students and concessions, and can be found here.

Full details of Lost in Frenchlation’s events can be found on their website or Facebook page. In France, a health pass is required in order to go to the cinema.

SHOW COMMENTS