×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Agnès Varda on Radical Filmmaking: ‘I Never Thought I Didn’t Have the Right’

“I don’t feel like filming people that have power. I’m much more interested in the rebels, the people who fight for their own life,” says Agnès Varda, the French new wave legend, who will become the first female director to receive an honorary Academy Award on Nov. 11.

From her 1955 film debut, “La Pointe Courte,” to her recently released documentary, “Faces Places,” the unsung hero has been a theme in much of Varda’s work. “There is something so touching in normal people. They really have a beauty,” she says. “I feel that they need light. They need to be seen. They need to be listened to.”

The Belgian-born director started her career as a still photographer in Paris before moving into film in 1955. “I made a very radical film, a very daring film. I never thought I didn’t have the right,” says Varda about finding her own unique expression from the start, intercutting the story of a strained young couple with the daily struggles of the locals in a small fishing village.

Though that film, “La Pointe Courte,” has been adopted by cinephiles as the film that inspired the French New Wave movement, it made little money and it took seven years until Varda made her next film, “Cleo From 5 to 7”, which put her in the same category as French filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard and her late husband, Jacques Demy.

Throughout her career, Varda has moved effortlessly between fiction, documentaries, short films and art installations. Though there are familiar elements to her works, the director sees each medium as a different beast. “When I do a fiction, even about normal people, I write a screenplay. I have my ideas. I organize dialogue. Fiction is my film,” she says. “But when I do documentary, I am at the service of the people I film.”

When it comes to her honorary award, the director admits she was surprised to find out she was even on the Academy’s radar. “I never thought that people of Hollywood would like my work,” she says.

The Oscar is long overdue, says Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president John Bailey. “She really is the legacy of the French New Wave. She might not like to hear that because she is active, alive and a vital filmmaker. But she’s also the living legacy of that history.”

The 89-year-old will accept the accolade as encouragement to remain curious. “I really love making films,” says Varda. “I’m blessed to be working in the world of cinema and art. It makes my life.”

More Film

  • Steve James Chicago Story

    Participant Media Partners With Filmmaker Steve James on Documentary 'Chicago Story' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Participant Media is reteaming with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steve James and his longtime production home, Kartemquin Films, on his latest documentary, “Chicago Story.” Participant Media will finance the project, which will be produced by James and Zak Piper. Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann will executive produce with Alex Kotlowitz and Gordon Quinn. James, Piper, and [...]

  • 'Metro 2033' Film Project Halted Because

    'Metro 2033' Film Project Halted Because 'A Lot of Things Didn't Work'

    It appears that MGM’s film adaptation of “Metro 2033” is no longer happening because “a lot of things didn’t work,” according to VG24/7. “Metro 2033” is a novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was also adapted into a series of successful survival horror shooters from video game publisher THQ and developer 4A Games in [...]

  • Jirga

    Film Review: 'Jirga'

    Buried within the closing crawl of writer, director, cinematographer and co-producer Benjamin Gilmour’s unfortunately cryptic but nonetheless fascinating debut film “Jirga” are shout-outs for security, political and cultural liaisons, as well as an Afghan film advisor. These credits speak, however quietly, to the no-doubt-delicate and clearly arduous making of a film that finds a guilt-ridden [...]

  • Fox Names Benjamin Bach Theatrical MD

    Fox Names Benjamin Bach MD for Germany, Replacing Vincent  De La Tour

    Twentieth Century Fox has upped Benjamin Bach to managing director, theatrical, for Austria and Germany. In Germany he takes over from the long-serving Vincent de la Tour who is leaving after 27 years. Bach has been MD of Fox’s operations in Austria since 2012 and he steps into his new, expanded, role immediately. He will [...]

  • Lois Smith

    Wes Anderson's 'The French Dispatch' Adds Lois Smith (EXCLUSIVE)

    Lois Smith has joined the cast of Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” Variety has learned. It continues a late-career resurgence for the 88-year-old stage and screen actress. Smith was nominated for a Gotham and Independent Spirit Award for her work in last year’s “Marjorie Prime,” a role that garnered her some of the best reviews [...]

  • Stephan James as Fonny and Brian

    Brian Tyree Henry Breaks Out Big in Jenkins' 'If Beale Street Could Talk'

    The final days of filming writer-director Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” were dedicated to moments that foreshadowed its entire plot: Having run into the recently incarcerated Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry) on the streets of Harlem, the struggling artist Fonny (Stephan James) invites his friend back to his apartment for [...]

  • Dylan O'Brien, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett,

    Travis Knight on Getting the Call to Direct ‘Bumblebee’: ‘Did You Guys Get The Right Number?’

    “Bumblebee” director Travis Knight admits he couldn’t believe it when Paramount Studios and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura called him two years ago, asking him to helm the upcoming “Transformers” movie. “My initial question was, ‘Did you guys get the right number?'” Knight joked at Sunday’s premiere of “Bumblebee” at the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. “You’ve seen [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content