Part of a wave of welcome recognition, influential filmmaker Agnes Varda will receive an honorary Palme d’Or at this year’s 68th Cannes Festival. She follows in the footsteps of just Woody Allen (2002), Clint Eastwood (2009) and Bernardo Bertolucci (2011).
The award goes to renowned directors whose works have achieved global impact but who have never won the Cannes Festival’s Palme d’Or, the festival explained, announcing the honor Saturday. Varda will receive the plaudit at the Cannes Festival’s closing ceremony on May 24.
The honorary Palme d’Or follows a tribute at 2014’s Locarno Festival and a lifetime achievement award from the European Film Academy, presented last December at the 27th European Film Awards.
It marks recognition for a figure whose career is often associated with the French Nouvelle Vague but begun a half-decade before with 1954’s “La Pointe Courte,” her first feature film, which starred Philippe Noiret and was edited by Alain Resnais. “In retrospect, everything that would later make the New Wave such a success can be detected in this 1954 work,” the festival press release said Saturday.
An uber-hyphenate – the festival describes her as a photographer, screenplay writer, actress, director and visual artist and “total all-rounder” — Varda really broke through with “Cleo From 5 to 7” (1961), which was selected at Cannes and won the French critics’ award.
Varda has filmed more than 30 short, documentary and fiction films for both TV and cinema, as well staging many exhibitions of photographs and art installations.
Among her films are “Lions Love (… and Lies)” (1968); “Documenteur” (1981), which shot in Los Angeles when her life-partner Jacques Demy went to make “Model Shop” for Columbia; “One Sings the Other Doesn’t” (1976); and “Jacquot (De Nantes)” (1990), made in memory of Demy.
Among major awards, Varda won a Silver Bear in Berlin for “Happiness” (1965), a Golden Lion in Venice for “Vagabond” (1985), a European Film Award for “The Gleaners and I” (2000), and a French Cesar for documentary “The Beaches of Agnes” (2008).