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Agnès Varda

Interviews

T. Jefferson Kline

Publication Year: 2013

Over nearly sixty years, Agnès Varda (b. 1928) has given interviews that are revealing not only of her work, but of her remarkably ambiguous status. She has been called the "Mother of the New Wave" but suffered for many years for never having been completely accepted by the cinematic establishment in France. Varda's first film, La Pointe Courte (1954), displayed many of the characteristics of the two later films that launched the New Wave, Truffaut's 400 Blows and Godard's Breathless. In a low-budget film, using (as yet) unknown actors and working entirely outside the prevailing studio system, Varda completely abandoned the "tradition of quality" that Truffaut was at that very time condemning in the pages of Cahiers du cinema. Her work, however, was not "discovered" until after Truffaut and Godard had broken onto the scene in 1959. Varda's next film, Cleo from 5 to 7, attracted considerably more attention and was selected as France's official entry for the Festival in Cannes. Ultimately, however, this film and her work for the next fifty years continued to be overshadowed by her more famous male friends, many of whom she mentored and advised.

Her films have finally earned recognition as deeply probing and fundamental to the growing awareness in France of women's issues and the role of women in the cinema. "I'm not philosophical," she says, "not metaphysical. Feelings are the ground on which people can be led to think about things. I try to show everything that happens in such a way and ask questions so as to leave the viewers free to make their own judgments." The panoply of interviews here emphasize her core belief that "we never stop learning" and reveal the wealth of ways to answer her questions.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-viii

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xx

“I am a woman,” Agnès Varda tells Andrea Meyer, “working with her intuition and trying to be intelligent. It’s like a stream of feelings, intuition, and joy of discovering things. Finding beauty where it’s maybe not. Seeing.” She has pursued this search for “beauty where it’s maybe not” over a remarkable lifetime in art, beginning her search first in the...

Chronology

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pp. xxi-xxvi

Filmography

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pp. xxvii-2

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Agnès Varda from 5 to 7

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pp. 3-16

Pierre Uytterhoeven: Let’s talk about La Pointe Courte, that you directed in 1954. Do you still think today that the two themes of the film, treated in such very different styles, can’t be mixed and shouldn’t be?
Agnès Varda: I had a very precise idea when I did La Pointe Courte and that was to propose two themes that weren’t necessarily contradictory but which, placed side by side, were problems which were mutually exclusive...

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Agnès Varda: The Hour of Truth

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pp. 17-22

Six years ago, well before there was any question of the “New Wave,” a young woman, known for her work as the official photographer for the National Popular Theater (TNP), brought the silver screen a rare, singular, and fascinating work. The critics were enthusiastic about...

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A Secular Grace: Agnès Varda

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pp. 23-37

Fieschi & Ollier: Let’s begin at the beginning: with photography . . .
Agnès Varda: I was a photographer and I’ve remained one. It’s like a way of seeing. I worked as a photographer for years, but not any more. You lose your touch but you never lose your eye. Now I mostly take photographs for my search for film locations. It’s a better way of seeing...

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Interview with Agnès Varda

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pp. 38-40

Agnès Varda: I don’t much like talking about people’s work before it’s finished. You know I intend to make more films and to try more and more to see my way clear in all this. I don’t particularly like classifications either. I’ve only made four or five films...

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The Underground River

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pp. 41-49

Agnès Varda has brought with her to cinema a richness of awareness and a talent to provoke and delight. In this interview with Gordon Gow, she explains her approach to directing, life, and happiness.
California sunlight beats against the glass of a big window above a bed, making the room too bright in the early morning. So the people...

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Lions Love

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pp. 50-52

Filmgoers and cinephiles who loved the short films of Agnès Varda, then Cléo from 5 to 7, Le Bonheur, and perhaps also Les Créatures, may be disconcerted by Lions Love. And yet it would be misleading to say that America changed the director. Behind a new cinematic structure, we can...

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Mother of the New Wave: An Interview with Agnès Varda

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pp. 53-63

Jacqueline Levitin: What has your experience been as a woman filmmaker in France? Were you involved in the women’s movement?
Agnès Varda: When I started to make films, which was nineteen years ago, there was no women’s movement in France. There were women doing things here and there—in writing, in painting, and music. But there...

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Agnès Varda Talks about the Cinema

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pp. 64-77

Mireille Amiel: Since Lions Love we haven’t heard much from Agnès Varda. She has been working on One Sings and the Other Doesn’t, so I thought getting her to talk about her work would be now or never. I set out for an interview and came back with a long monologue from the author...

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L’Une Chante, l’Autre Pas: Interview with Agnès Varda

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pp. 78-88

Narboni, Toubiana, & Villain: We read the press-book of the film and thought it was really well done, the way it talks about the shooting. Now we’d like to ask some questions about before and after, by that we mean the composition of the scenario, for example . . .

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Agnès Varda

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pp. 89-91

Agnès Varda, whose thrilling One Sings, the Other Doesn’t opens the 1977 New York Film Festival, is as pesky as she is petite: compulsively sharptongued, opinionated, borderline rude. Shoes kicked off and bare feet slung up on her New York hotel couch, this five-foot Left Bank lily in a...

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One Sings, the Other Doesn’t: An Interview with Agnès Varda

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pp. 92-101

Agnès Varda’s name has always been associated with both the women’s struggle and politics. In her twenty years as a film director, she has dealt with subjects as diverse as a pretty young woman who discovers her strength and humanity only after learning she may be dying...

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Agnès Varda

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pp. 102-107

Far from Beverly Hills, far from all the bustle of Hollywood, Agnès Varda has moved into a house in Venice, a beach town near Los Angeles, formerly built on a series of canals. “The ocean is nowhere,” says the film director, who’s fascinated by the popular art of a neglected community: the Chicanos...

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Interview with Agnès Varda

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pp. 108-117

Aude & Jeancolas: Ever since La Pointe Courte, you seem to have had the will or desire to produce your own films yourself.
Agnès Varda: Is it a matter of will or desire? No, it’s a necessity. I become a producer when “they” don’t want to produce my work or when the project looks like it’s going to be difficult ; after all, who would ever...

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Interview with Agnès Varda

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pp. 118-125

“I’m not behind the camera, I’m IN it!”
At the time it was said of her that she was one of the most innovative directors of the New Wave. Thirty years and twenty-five films later, Agnès Varda continues an unusual career and a very personal methodology that won her the Lion d’Or at Venice last year for her latest film, ...

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Agnès Varda: A Conversation

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pp. 126-138

Agnès Varda has been making films for over three decades now, starting out at a time when less than a handful of women were directing. Varda’s longevity as a serious filmmaker, her capacity for survival, is in itself moving, as other august figures have come and gone, their trajectories played out by death or burn-out in one form or another. It is not hard...

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Interview with Varda on The Vagabond

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pp. 139-149

In a Provence emptied yesterday of all of its tourists, Mona, the hitchhiker, ends her life of wandering or mistakes, frozen to death. “You feel solitude to the hilt in winter.”
Maybe there’s no such thing as generosity, there’s only the right way to ask. Mona’s way is as proud as that of the Tarahumara Indians who, ...

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Agnès Varda: Playing with Tarot Cards

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pp. 150-155

On the day we met, there were sessions for photos, a TV shoot with the crew from Paris-Premiere, the final touches to the editing before the happening for Varda at the Cinémathèque, L’Univers de Jacques Demy and The 100 and 1 Nights . . . so why not a fantasy Tarot reading—for each card a symbolic meaning, a discussion of love—just to hear Varda reading?...

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Agnès Varda: A Very Worthy Young Woman

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pp. 156-159

Agnès Varda has been making films for forty years. This woman who has been nicknamed The Grandmother of the New Wave has made seventeen feature-length films and as many short subjects. Experimental, documentary, and fiction films . . . She’s tried everything with intelligence...

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The Grandmother of the New Wave

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pp. 160-172

Carol Allen: Tell me about the films being shown in this retrospective.
Agnès Varda: Some are very old including La Pointe Courte, my first film, made in ’54 which was how I became the grandmother of the New Wave. For years this film was never subtitled in English because it’s more a cinematic piece, I would say, than a film for general release. But now...

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The Modest Gesture of the Filmmaker: An Interview with Agnès Varda

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pp. 173-182

Often hailed as the grandmother of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda has been making films for nearly fifty years. Her latest film, The Gleaners and I (Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse)—awarded the Melies Prize for Best French Film of 2000 by the French Union of Film Critics—documents those who scavenge and salvage to survive in both rural and urban areas...

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The Gleaners and I by Agnès Varda

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pp. 183-190

The Gleaners and I is a decidedly personal video documentary by Agnès Varda, a film ostensibly preoccupied with “rubbish.” Agnès Varda takes us on a journey where we encounter those who live apart from other people—from people who eat out of dumpsters and “glean” provincial fields after harvest, to those who make art from tossed-away furniture...

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Agnès Varda in Toronto

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pp. 191-192

The 2008 Toronto International Film Festival last September proved hospitable to Agnès Varda, offering her latest work, the autobiographical The Beaches of Agnès, and reaching back for a rare screening of her 1954 first feature, La Pointe Courte. The “Mother of the French New Wave” was in an expansive, agreeable mood, and one afternoon she consented to sit...

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The Beaches of Agnès: An Interview

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pp. 193-197

Renowned veteran director of the nouvelle vague Agnès Varda returns to UK screens this month with The Beaches of Agnès (Les Plages d’Agnès). Part autobiography, part documentary, part cinematic essay, Varda’s latest film is a lyrical, free-flowing recollection of her life in and around the cinema...

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Gleaning the Passion of Agnès Varda

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pp. 198-202

The films of Agnès Varda are always infused with Agnès Varda—her reality, her thoughts, her voice, and her passions. Her fiction films—La Pointe Courte (1954), Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961), Le Bonheur (1964), Vagabond (1985)—are great feminist works that experiment with subject and form like the best of the French New Wave. She was considered a precursor...

Additional Resources

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pp. 203-208

Index

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pp. 209-216


E-ISBN-13: 9781617039201
E-ISBN-10: 1621039986
Print-ISBN-13: 9781621039983

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Conversations with Filmmakers Series

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Women motion picture producers and directors -- France -- Interviews.
  • Varda, Agnès, 1928- -- Interviews.
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