Varda by Agnès opens with Varda sitting in her director’s chair on the stage of a grand opera house, facing a packed auditorium. She explains her filmmaking journey, and everything which guided her in three simple words: inspiration, creation and sharing.
In a lecture-like fashion, Varda then goes on to talk about the beauty of time and documenting ordinary routines in Rue Daguerre’s bakery, butcher or markets. Though these actions seem banal, the respect Varda shows them draws you right in. And with friend and collaborator Nurith Aviv, they revel in the stories of the silent majority.
But Varda also explored enraged minorities, like the Black Panther movement or early feminist. In her film Vagabond particularly, she discusses how she wanted to make her enraged main character, played by Sandrine Bonnaire, stick out.
Bonnaire is loud, rude, filthy – but most importantly free. And Varda unpacks how she followed her on a precisely choreographed backpacking journey, ingeniously using tracking shots.
Finally, Varda takes us on a journey about how, in later life, she discovered her passion for visual arts. Having been heavily influenced by her work on The Gleaners & I, Varda confides the joy she received from creating visual installations using artistic recycling.
Watching Varda by Agnès is like spending a precious few hours in the company of an old friend, and it’s fascinating to hear Varda talk about how she kept on blending her identities as filmmaker, photographer and artist. It’s an experience too joyful not to be shared!
As the UK’s leading centre for documentaries, the Bertha DocHouse team are HUGE fans of Varda’s generous and creative films, like Varda by Agnès. And we were deeply saddened to learn of her death after being so heavily influenced by her work.
At the time, we put her docs to the public for a vote as part of our RE:DOX strand, so people could decide how they wanted to celebrate her life. And we’re thrilled to have another chance to take audiences on one final trip with the queen of French New Wave!