The Cinema of Agnès Varda: Resistance and Eclecticism (Directors' Cuts)
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Agnès Varda, a pioneer of the French New Wave, has been making radical films for over half a century. Many of these are considered by scholars, filmmakers, and audiences alike, as audacious, seminal, and unforgettable. This volume considers her production as a whole, revisiting overlooked films like Mur, Murs/Documenteur (1980–81), and connecting her cinema to recent installation work. This study demonstrates how Varda has resisted norms of representation and diktats of production. It also shows how she has elaborated a personal repertoire of images, characters, and settings, which all provide insight on their cultural and political contexts. The book thus offers new readings of this director's multifaceted rêveries, arguing that her work should be seen as an aesthetically influential and ethically-driven production where cinema is both a political and collaborative practice, and a synesthetic art form.
surprisingly few have ventured beyond the almost canonical Cléo de 5 à 7 and Sans Toit ni Loi. In her profession and in her life, Varda has always been an outsider. She trained as a photographer and made her first film, La Pointe Courte (1954), with little money and few other resources, and without awareness that she was going against the grain of the practices in the industry. Her background is strikingly different to the contemporary new wave group associated with the magazine Les Cahiers du
who is at times unassuming and self-derogatory and at others determined and feisty, is a clever way to position herself. In her big chair on the beach, she is in charge, her own boss and in doing so reclaims the category of auteur. But because of the cartoon, the viewer will also probably assume that she is a modest ‘petite bonne femme’ (little lady) who does not take herself too seriously. In appearing as a woman at work, she aligns herself with the many women that she has filmed in, for
fireworks and the burning of the king’s figure accompanied by loud brass band music create the frantic atmosphere and topsy-turvy universe where hierarchy and inequality have supposedly no place. One could say that in Nice the carnival has become more inclusive since it has A close up on one of the women held captive during the carnival in Nice re si sta n c e a n d e c l e c ti c i sm Agnès_Varda_pages.indb 97 97 10/3/14 14:02:12 evolved historically from a set of private balls and
for this project in September 1999, very little was planned in advance and she spent eight months on and off the road to find gleaners willing to take part in this adventure. When asked about the making of the film, Varda recognises that luck played a huge role in the shooting schedule because she did not have a list of gleaners handy (see Varda and Meyer 2001). She asked her assistants and acquaintances to tell everyone they knew about her intended project and to contact any peasant, fruit
this momentum of change. Varda was not in France in May 1968 so she did not contribute to this corpus. She may have been friends with Marker and Resnais but as mentioned earlier she was a bit of an outsider and her prior involvement in a group project (with Loin du Vietnam) did not amount to much.12 So what is exactly Réponses de Femmes which is described in the credits as ‘un cinétract d’Agnès Varda’? This eight minute film was made for Antenne 2, a French television channel, to celebrate women