Begins December 12, 2019

Viva Varda! The Films of Agnès Varda

“With deceptively casual genius, Agnès Varda journeyed deep into the truth of experience.”

Kelley Conway, Film Comment

Agnès Varda’s death in March of this year ended an extraordinary career of remarkable longevity. The Belgian-born French director, one of cinema’s paramount female artists, was two months shy of her ninety-second birthday, and still very much active, and arguably more revered than ever, as a filmmaker.

Varda’s 1954 feature La Pointe Courte is now regarded as the work that launched the French New Wave. Her status as a key figure of that celebrated movement hasn’t always been properly acknowledged, perhaps because of her gender — Varda is the only female director associated with the nouvelle vague (Marguerite Duras more properly belonged to the so-called Left Bank Group, in which Varda can also claim membership) — and also because, unlike Godard, Truffaut, Chabrol et al., she was neither a devoted cinephile nor a film critic. In fact, Varda claims to have seen very few films prior to becoming a director herself.

Varda had a background as a photo-journalist and brought a photographer’s eye to her cinema. She worked in both documentary and drama; her innovative films often straddled the boundaries between the two, setting fictional characters and stories in highly realist, documentary-like settings, and often employing non-professional actors filmed in actual locations. Intensely personal and political, they were rooted in the social context of their settings, and groundbreaking in cinema for their expression of female subjectivity, female desire, a feminine perspective. Of Varda’s 1962 feature Cleo from 5 to 7, Pauline Kael would write, “[It is] one of the few films directed by a woman in which the viewer can sense a difference.”

Varda’s love of the arts — literature and painting as well as photography — was also very much evident in her works. She described her carefully planned, considered, artisanal approach to all aspects of a film’s making as cinécriture or “cine-writing.” She maintained that a filmmaker should have the same freedom as novelist.

Varda was awarded an honorary Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2015 for her career’s work, the first woman and only the fourth filmmaker (after Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood, and Bernardo Bertolucci) to be so honoured. Two years later, she became the first female director to receive an honorary Academy Award for lifetime achievement. She remained sardonic about such laurels and her status. In 2016, noting that the restoration and re-release of Jane B. par Agnès V. and Kung-Fu Master!, two underappreciated films she had made in 1988 with Jane Birkin, was proving an event of only modest proportions, Varda remarked: "I can get the Palme d’Or, but I can’t get exhibition.”

The Cinematheque is pleased to present a major retrospective — career-spanning and near-complete — devoted to the films of this inspiring, inventive, and highly individualistic artist. The exhibition continues in our January-February program.

December 12 (Thursday)
Opening Night
Reception & Special Speaker
7:00 pm – Doors
8:00 pm – The Gleaners and I introduced by Selina Crammond
Purchase tickets for the Opening Night screening here.

“One of the most important woman directors in the history of cinema.”

Lloyd Hughes, The Rough Guide to Film

“One of the bravest, most idiosyncratic of French filmmakers.”

A. O. Scott, New York Times

“Agnès Varda was the greatest of that great and long-lived generation of the French New Wave.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Upcoming Screenings

  • Gleaners Website 1
  • The Gleaners and I
  • Les glaneurs et la glaneuse
  • France2000
  • Agnès Varda
  • 82 DCP
  • G
  • Cleo web 1
  • Cleo from 5 to 7
  • Cléo de 5 à 7
  • France/Italy1962
  • Agnès Varda
  • 90 DCP
  • PG
  • Courte web 1
  • La Pointe Courte
  • France1954
  • Agnès Varda
  • 80 DCP
  • NR
  • Gleaners Two web 1
  • The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later
  • Les glaneurs et la glaneuse... deux ans après
  • France2002
  • Agnès Varda
  • 62 DCP
  • NR
  • Dag Website 1
  • Daguerréotypes
  • West Germany/France1976
  • Agnès Varda
  • 80 DCP
  • NR
  • Faces Places Website 1
  • Faces Places
  • Visages villages
  • France2017
  • Agnès Varda, JR
  • 89 DCP
  • PG
  • Kung Website 1
  • Kung-Fu Master!
  • aka Le petit amour
  • France1988
  • Agnès Varda
  • 80 DCP
  • NR
  • Website
  • Jane B. par Agnès V.
  • France1988
  • Agnès Varda
  • 97 DCP
  • NR
  • One Sings Website 1
  • One Sings, the Other Doesn’t
  • L'une chante, l'autre pas
  • France1977
  • Agnès Varda
  • 120 DCP
  • NR
  • Here There Website 1
  • Agnès Varda: From Here to There
  • Agnès de ci de là Varda
  • France2011
  • Agnès Varda
  • 225 DCP
  • NR

List of Programmed Films

Screening Film Title Director(s) Year Country
2019-Dec The Gleaners and I Agnès Varda 2000 France
2019-Dec Cleo from 5 to 7 Agnès Varda 1962 France. . .
2019-Dec La Pointe Courte Agnès Varda 1954 France
2019-Dec The Gleaners and I: Two Years Later Agnès Varda 2002 France
2019-Dec Daguerréotypes Agnès Varda 1976 West Germany. . .
2019-Dec Faces Places Agnès Varda . . . 2017 France
2020-Jan Kung-Fu Master! Agnès Varda 1988 France
2020-Jan Jane B. par Agnès V. Agnès Varda 1988 France
2020-Jan One Sings, the Other Doesn’t Agnès Varda 1977 France
2020-Jan Agnès Varda: From Here to There Agnès Varda 2011 France