For Agnès Varda: Fictions of reality/realities of fiction

Our job is to see, to make things seen or to inform, but we never see enough. I knew around a dozen caryatides and then I discovered fifty of them.

I fought for a radical cinema, and I continued all my life.

Agnès Varda

There is no truth, Agnès Varda once said, in speaking of documentary film. It is always a matter of perspective, a perspective that must be shaped by a particular representation or artistic language, what Varda called cinécriture. Without the self-conscious elaboration of such formal mediation, film falls into the illusions of realism, the lie of wanting to “tell it like it is”, or to narrate a total story, thereby blinding us to what is not to be seen (and to the fact that the film maker does not see everything).

There are always lacuna in what we see, in what can be seen. To be aware of these absences humbles us, weakens the hold of our ego, and thereby opens us to realities that we can never exhaust, and allows those realities to speak. We learn to see beauty.

Varda’s cinema moves easily between fiction and documentary because for her, the distinction was of no importance. Like an artisan, she crafted images, moving images with care and respect for what she captured with the camera’s eye. Her’s was a cinema not of “vérités”, but of “souvenirs”; of image-memories from which we could find and create perspectives. And it was from this in-formed perspective that she herself would move through various personal and political issues in her films.

Agnès Varda’s cinema was – is – a cinema of liberation.

Agnès Varda died this last 29th of March at the age of 90.

La pointe courte (1955) …

A Ópera Mouffe (1958)

Le cinéma selon Agnès Varda | Archive INA

Réponse de femmes (1975) (english subtitles) …

Agnès Varda : Le cinéma de femme (1978) …

On making documentaries (english) …

Varda par Agnès – Causerie 1 (documentaire complet) | ARTE Cinema (french) …

Varda par Agnès – Causerie 2 (documentaire complet) | ARTE Cinema (french) …

The Ciné-Tamaris foundation is dedicated to preserving the work of Agnès Varda and Jacques Demy.

Obituaries from the Guardian, Le Monde and Libération.

This entry was posted in Commentary, Film, News blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.