The Art of the Real: Agnès Varda at Lincoln Center

This weekend the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center kicked off its retrospective of “actualités” directed by the mother of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda. This series, which is showing both fiction and nonfiction films – and some experiments in blending the two in what Varda refers to as her “cine-writing” – includes such titles as Lions Love (1969), Daguerréotypes (1976), Mur Murs (1981), Documenteur (1981), Vagabond (1985, winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival) and the wonderful documentary The Gleaners and I (2000). Last night I was lucky enough to attend a screening of Varda’s debut feature, La Pointe Courte (1955), for which Varda provided an introduction and a post-screening Q&A, in addition to watching the film with us (sitting in my row!). At 86 years old, soon to be 87, Varda is as lively, colorful (literally, if you’ve ever seen her purple hair) and charming as ever, although she is quite self-effacing about her directing abilities. She was kind enough to answer many questions from the audience, each time with a lengthy response, including discussing the experience of having La Pointe Courte edited by Alain Resnais (Varda could not pay him for his daily work, though she did give him 10 francs a day for lunch) and telling anecdotes about another filmmaker friend, Chris Marker (she was the only other person he ever allowed to film inside his studio). It was a delight to see Varda in person and to hear her tell these stories.

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