In advance of receiving the Cannes Film Festival’s honorary Palme d’Or, influential French director Agnes Varda addressed the issue of women in film during one of the Kering-sponsored talks.
Varda was being interviewed by the well-known film historian Jean-Michel Frodon, who presented her as the filmmaker who truly launched the New Wave, three years before Truffaut and Godard, with “La Pointe.”
“My aim was not to make a woman’s film but rather to create a contemporary film. Picasso, Modigliani… had changed the arts. I was a photographer and I wanted to change filmmaking,” said Varda at the Women in Motion event.
Although she calls herself a feminist, Varda says she has never wanted to be labeled as a “feminist filmmaker.”
“Because I was not assimilated into the film family, I just placed myself outside of the problem. My main concern was to make innovative films,” pointed out Varda, adding that “Cléo de 5 à 7” was a feminist movie but in a subtle way.
Added Varda, “Being on the margins allows one to avoid the problem (of discrimination). As Jean-Luc Godard said, ‘The margin is what holds together the pages of a notebook.'”
Money remains the crux of the battle for any filmmaker, regardless of gender, said Varda. “Frances McDormand said something extraordinary: ‘We don’t need help, we need money.'”
“I have an entire bestiary of prizes with bears, dogs, etc. but people still don’t give me funding. As fishermen say, ‘A little less thanks, and a little more money!” she quipped.
Varda modestly said she was very surprised to receive an honorary Palme d’Or. “Those who have won it are famous and have earned the industry millions: Bertolucci, Clint Eastwood… That’s not my case.”
Varda cited Isild LeBesco, Naomi Kawase, Lucretia Martel, Claire Denis, Jane Campion, Miranda July and Emmanuelle Bercot as contemporary, important feminine voices in the arts.
The filmmaker also mentioned the HBO show “Girls” — “It’s made by a woman in her own way and it shakes up archetypes.”
“Everyone has a creative streak. I encourage everyone to wake up,” said Varda.