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RIP Agnès Varda

by Anne Marie Kelly

Acclaimed godmother of the French New Wave and belated Honrary Oscar award-winner Agnès Varda passed away this Friday of breast cancer at 90 years old. The film community is in mourning for a singular and pioneering visionary, who treated film as art and famously declared that she refused to watch movies before embarking on her own career. In spite, or perhaps because, of this fact, Varda would go on to create incredible works across multiple genres and decades, creating unforgettable films that were personal, political, comedic, deeply poignant expressions of a spirit that never ceased being fascinated by the world around her.

We at Team Experience have long been fans of Varda, including her early work, famous films, late-career documentaries, and her unbelievable offscreen appearances as well. Her brusque presence and iconic style was a fixture at film festivals, where she had time for fans but never for praise. She will be missed.

What are your favorite Varda moments? What are you watching in her honor?

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Reader Comments (7)

I haven't seen a lot of films by Varda as she is just a joy to watch as I just love her enthusiasm and energy for film. I am going to watch one of her films possibly next month as it's one of my Blind Spots for the year. I will watch in tribute of her. A true original.

March 29, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

"The Gleaners and I" is the one I keep coming back to. It's not quite my favorite of hers (that would be "Cleo"), but its meshing of autobiography, social/ecological critique, and formal experimentation is so exquisitely, effortlessly achieved.

March 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Love this woman so much even more so when my wife and I chanced upon her in a small art venue in Paris last year. Agnès was warm and accommodating, genuinely curious about what people do, and held hands when she speaks. To quote a title of a song written by the two guys from ABBA, she is like an angel passing through.

My favorites are Cléo de 5 à 7, Les plages d'Agnès, Visages Villages and Les Glaneurs et la glaneuse. I will try to seek her other outputs this coming month; it might be heartbreaking to see Visages Villages again especially that last scene with her and JR.

March 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

I'm very sad. I know she was 90, but we don't get people like her that often.

March 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I was startled to wake up to the news she had died, because even though she was elderly, she seemed so full of life and vitality (I felt similarly when I heard Altman had died years ago).

Her films were special because she shed a light on people who wouldn't normally be featured in movies. She was one of cinema's great humanists who believed that everyone had a story to tell.

One Varda film that doesn't get enough attention is Kung Fu Master! with Jane Birkin. It is about a mutual infatuation between a middle-aged woman and her teenage daughter's friend. It tackles a taboo subject very well.

March 30, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

RIP. Has Rachel Dratch played Agnès yet?

April 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBenny

Very well summed-up, Suzanne.

I too thought Kung Fu Master is underrated among the 'niche' films of Varda. The film upends the usual young-mature affection with nuanced characterisation -- one can't help but believe it can happen in real life. Seen as a companion piece to Jane B by Agnès V, both are meditations about image and aging -- two themes I like most in Varda's films.

Film curator Larry Kardish who worked with Varda in New York (and pretty much the US) said that Varda's films did not get the warmest reception in her early years. I like that her validation came from always creating new ways to see unseen landscapes even when critics have not caught up with that sensibility.

April 1, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

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