Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Produced by Agnès Varda
Directed by Agnès Varda
DVD, color, 88 min.
Art, Biography, Drama, Film Studies, Gender Studies, History, Latin American Studies, Photography, Storytelling, Writing
Date Entered: 01/07/2011Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA
In this portfolio of cinematic work, Agnès Varda, the first lady of French New Wave cinema, presents 9 of her short films. Perhaps best known for her feature-length work, such as The Beaches of Agnès and The Gleaners and I, Varda began doing short films early in her career. Produced in the period from 1963-2004, the films vary in subject matter and length from 3 to 45 minutes each. Each of the pieces presented here showcases Varda’s unique style as well as her abilities as both a director and an artist.
In Ydessa, Les Ours et Etc… (2004), Varda interviews Canadian artist Ydessa Hendeles about her Teddy Bear Project art installation in a Munich museum. Ulysse (1982) begins with a photograph of a naked man, child and dead goat on a rocky beach. Salut les Cubains (1963) is a black and white photographic montage of the Cuban people, four years after Fidel Castro came to power.
In 6 shorter pieces, Varda celebrates the Cinémathèque Française in Paris, follows two young lovers through the Imam Mosque in Esfahan, Iran, interprets Parisian female statuary with the poetry of Baudelaire, and tells the love story of French poet Louis Aragon and his wife Elsa. There is also a short television spot made in 1975 to answer the question “what does it mean to be a woman?” The most characteristic short in this series is a lightly surrealistic story of a now vacant house and the family that may have lived there.
While some of the shorts follow a fairly standard documentary format and others are experimental in nature and technique, each is characteristic of Varda’s method and approach to narrative. Bonus features include a 20 minute interview with Varda about her creative process and the importance of still photography in her work. Recommended.