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RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

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RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

Old 03-29-19, 06:48 AM
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RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

Agnès Varda, a leading light of the French New Wave who directed such films as “Cleo From 5 to 7,” “Vagabond” and “Faces Places,” has died. She was 90.

Varda’s death from breast cancer at her Paris home was confirmed Friday by her family. “The filmmaker and artist Agnès Varda died from a cancer at her home in the night of March 29, 2019, surrounded by her family and friends,” the family’s statement said, describing her as a “joyful feminist” and “passionate artist.”

The funeral is expected to take place in Paris on Tuesday.

Just last month, the diminutive director presented her latest film, “Varda by Agnès,” at the Berlin Film Festival and received the honorary Berlinale Camera award. She had films in competition at the festival four times, winning the Grand Jury Prize in 1965 with “Le Bonheur.” But as ill health overtook her in recent weeks, Varda canceled the masterclass she was scheduled to deliver at the Qumra event in Doha, Qatar, earlier this month.

The news of her death drew swift tributes to her indomitable and curious spirit.

“Varda’s gone, but Agnès will still be here. Intelligent, lively, sweet, spiritual, laughing, comical, unexpected as is her work,” former Cannes Film Festival president Gilles Jacob tweeted, adding that Varda’s “movies are our treasure. A national treasure: that of the French spirit.”

Varda’s acclaim spanned decades, beginning with her 1955 feature debut, “La Pointe Courte.” In an appreciation of her career, Variety critic Peter DeBruge said that Varda’s oeuvre bore an unmistakably personal stamp. “Where other directors make movies, Varda crafts personal works of art, revealing dimensions of herself in the process,” he wrote.

She was awarded an honorary Oscar, the Governors Award, in 2017, becoming the first female director to receive the accolade. With ironic modesty, Varda described herself to a German interviewer as “a little queen at the outskirts of film.”

Varda was born to a Greek father and French mother in Brussels, Belgium, but the family moved to to the southern France during World War II, near the sea. The young Agnès grew up with an abiding interest in the arts, particularly literature and photography, which wound up informing her work throughout her long career. “Photography has never ceased to teach me how to make films,” she once said.

When she decided to direct her debut motion picture, “La Pointe Courte,” she had little experience in film, reputedly having gone to the cinema fewer than a dozen times. A seaside romance, “La Pointe Courte” was edited by Alain Resnais but was not received kindly by everyone. In a sentence as sexist as it was curt, Variety dismissed it by saying that the “main aspect of this film is that it was made for $20,000 by a 25-year-old girl.”

But other critics were more impressed, and that “girl,” with her fierce independence and sharp eye, went on to become a powerful inspiration for the French New Wave artists whose names still resonate today, including François Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard. Varda remained the only female member of the Nouvelle Vague, and as an outsider because of her gender, she became a champion of the rights of women and their place in the male-dominated world of film.

Her iconoclasm also meant that she did not shy away from addressing taboo topics such as sex and death in her work, which exhibited a formal daring that retains the ability to astonish, with her use of the camera, cuts and montages. Varda’s best-known and most commercially successful film, 1962’s “Cleo From 5 to 7,” follows a glamorous singer through the streets of Paris almost in real time as the woman awaits the results of a cancer exam – an eerie foreshadowing of Varda’s own death from the disease nearly 60 years later.

Varda married fellow filmmaker Jacques Demy, the director of “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” The couple moved to California in the late 1960s, making Los Angeles a regular base. While there, she associated with people like Dennis Hopper and Andy Warhol, and filmed a Black Panthers protest demanding the release of Huey P. Newton.

Varda is survived by her children, Rosalie and Mathieu.
Old 03-29-19, 07:56 AM
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Re: RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

Too bad. I watched Faces Places last month.
Old 03-29-19, 08:34 AM
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Re: RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

RIP to a legend.

Wow 90 years old, didn't know she was older than Godard.
Old 03-29-19, 08:55 AM
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Re: RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

Definitely a legend.
Old 03-29-19, 11:48 AM
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Re: RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

RIP. Cleo is still my most favorite “Real-time” movie out there.
Old 03-29-19, 05:33 PM
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Re: RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

Not too many filmmakers go out with a film as good as Faces Places was. At least she had a long, productive life. RIP.
Old 03-29-19, 09:06 PM
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Re: RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

Sad news, but 90 is a good age.
Old 03-29-19, 10:08 PM
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Re: RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90


I feel kind of bad I never watched one of her movies.I own 4 by Agnès Varda by the criterion collection still sealed .

Last edited by JoeySeven; 03-29-19 at 10:23 PM.
Old 03-30-19, 08:58 AM
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Re: RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

Originally Posted by JoeySeven

I feel kind of bad I never watched one of her movies.I own 4 by Agnès Varda by the criterion collection still sealed .
Open it up and watch!
Old 03-30-19, 03:05 PM
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Re: RIP: Agnès Varda - Dead at 90

^ Can't think of a better way to memorialize an artist than to take the time to finally explore their work. Especially if you have it sitting right there.

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