Varda by Agnès (15)

Varda by Agnès (15)

Directed by Agnes Varda
Picturehouse, Liverpool
19th – 25th July 2019

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

In her final film Agnes Varda, the 90-year-old director, who died earlier this year, details her career as a pioneer of the French New Wave, which emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, and member of the Left Bank group, through using footage of her speaking at various events, including in front of a mainly young audience.

I am a great admirer of her film ‘Faces Places’, which was released in 2018, which also in various ways paid tribute to her cinematic talents.

A particular aspect of Varda’s work which impressed me in Varda By Agnes were the examples of her still photography. She would have undoubtedly have been acknowledged as a top-rate photographer if she had not decided on a life in cinema.

One notable quote she made when speaking to the young audience, and how true it is, was “You don’t make films to watch them alone, you make films to show them. An empty cinema: a filmmaker’s nightmare.”

Varda by Agnes looks back at her CV of over 50 films, from her notable ‘Cleo From 5 To 7’ (1961) to her Oscar-nominated ‘Faces Places’.

She had an engaging persona, including possessing very little vanity about her film work, even though she made documentaries about Fidel Castro and the Black Panther Movement.

Given her personality Varda does not shy away from her box office failures, notably ‘One Hundred and One Nights’, in which she directed Robert De Niro and Catherine Deneuvre.

Varda’s cinematic voyage – I use this term deliberately because she was a great lover of beaches – was one which swept me away!

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