Viva Varda! The Films of Agnès Varda
- Documenteur + Black Panthers
- Agnès Varda
- 93 DCP
aka Documenteur: An Emotion Picture
65 min. DCP
Made directly after Mur Murs and very much its companion film, Documenteur stages a sombre, deeply personal tale of urban isolation against the same muralled Los Angeles explored in Varda’s 1980 documentary. Quiet in tone and modest in length, the auto-fiction stars Sabine Mamou (Varda’s editor) as Emilie, a Frenchwoman in Southern California adjusting to single motherhood following a split from her longtime partner — an episode mirrored in Varda’s own life. (She had recently separated from husband Jacques Demy.) Emilie’s child is played by Mathieu Demy, Varda’s son. In a moment of brilliant intertextuality with Mur Murs, Emilie is hired by a documentary crew to narrate a film about the city’s outdoor murals. Tempting as it is to read Documenteur as open dairy, the film’s winking title suggests untruths afoot (“menteur” is “liar” in French).
28 min. DCP
The incarceration of Black Panthers co-founder Huey P. Newton, and the public protests his arrest incited, are the subjects of Varda’s electrifying political short, her second California film.
French master Agnès Varda produced some of her most adventurous and socially engaged works while living abroad in America. Relocating to sunbathed California in 1967 with husband Jacques Demy (who was contracted by Columbia Pictures to direct Model Shop, his English-language debut), Varda created a suite of spritely, self-reflexive films that effortlessly slip between documentary and drama, the personal and the political. Ten years later, she returned to the Golden State with son Mathieu and made two more films, with similarly wondrous results.