the ages of Agnès on Arte

Far from hagiography, this documentary offers a lucid portrait of the most playful of filmmakers. An ode to the creative universe of this director, photographer and visual artist who died on March 29, 2019. Long live Varda! a film not to be missed this Monday, November 6 at 10:35 p.m. on Arte.

An exhibition at the Cinémathèque française, a book by Laure Adler (at Gallimard), a box set of her feature and short films on DVD… Agnes Varda (1928-2019) is everywhere this fall. Arte is participating in this tribute by broadcasting a cycle of his films and a new documentary, Long live Varda!. If the portrait signed Pierre-Henri Gibert takes up the enthusiastic title of the exhibition, it attempts to escape the hagiography which characterizes the official discourse, four years after the disappearance of the filmmaker. “ Until the end, she herself ensured a monopoly on the narrative over her own work, blocking all alternative words, rewriting her history and refining her legend. », Says the commentary read by Louis Garrel in voice-over.

Many extracts from his interviews

Fact, Long live Varda! shows few sequences taken from his films and many extracts from his interviews. The filmmaker was a good customer for television, and the small screen was the ideal medium for after-sales service for an artist who had become a brand at the end of her life. “ I am the grandmother of the New Wave», she repeats as an element of language.
She preceded Truffaut and Godard by filming in 1954 The Short Point , which depicts the quarrel of a couple in the natural setting of the fishing district of Sète. But Les Cahiers du cinéma ignored the film and Varda would later remember it by refusing to write for the magazine. “ You are a bullshitter“, she said to Truffaut in a letter. Cleo from 5 to 7, the real-time wandering of a young woman in the streets of Paris, made her known throughout the world. Afterwards, things get worse. Happinesswith Jean-Claude Drouot as a polyamorous carpenter, does not attract crowds. The Creatures, with Deneuve and Piccoli, is a critical and public failure. Must wait No shelter, no law , in 1984, with Sandrine Bonnaire as a surly wanderer, for Varda to experience real success. Arte is also broadcasting this film before the documentary.

Time for its reinvention

ApartNo shelter, no law, where she made her million, the rest flops», recalls his former istant Didier Rouget. In the meantime, Varda makes films that are more curiosities than clics – love in the age of American hippies in Lions Love the chronicle of feminist struggles of the 1970s inOne sings, the other doesn’t. Varda wants to be free, creates her production company Ciné-Tamaris, wishes to not be accountable to anyone. “Control freak”, his independence does not only have advantages. “ She had the reputation of being very stingy, of making films with pieces of string, paying little or nothing,testifies Bonnaire.That’s what I heard from a lot of people in the business.. »

Lack of recognition

Beneath her appearance as a zany autodidact, the filmmaker suffers from her lack of recognition, at a time when Jacques Demy is riding the coattails of success after winning the Palme d’Or forUmbrellas of Cherbourg . Demy, son of a mechanic, met in 1958, is the great love of his life. But the artistic couple is going through storms. The breakup is inevitable. Varda stages it inDocumenter, but a taboo persists. “Jacques never accepted his biity, at least not in his family“, says Mathieu Demy about his father, who suffered from AIDS. Before Demy’s death in 1990, Varda dedicated a film to him, Jacquot de Nantes, about his childhood and the birth of his vocation. The filmmaker reinvented herself in the 2000s with the documentary (The Gleaners and the Gleaner,The Beaches of Agnès) and the plastic arts. To the point of receiving a palm and an honorary Oscar.

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