Self-Reflection

Now 90 years old, legendary french auteur Agnès Varda looks back on her work over the years in Varda by Agnès. Cutting between recorded lectures and clips from her films, she critiques her own ideas, while explaining her intentions, influences and relationships with those who have been involved in her extraordinary life and career as the only female filmmaker of the French New Wave movement.

Extracts from Varda’s films are not used chronologically, jumping between shorts like Uncle Yanco (1967) to Cléo from 5 to 7(1962), to Vagabond(1985). But Varda’s personal story is weaved expertly around her work, showing how her individual experiences inform how she communicates an idea on screen, and how her own cinematic style has been born in this way.

It can be occasionally difficult to find much fresh material in Varda by Agnèsafter The Beaches Of Agnès, made in 2008, when Varda was re-examining her films through locations that were important to her. Her major films and installations are covered in both, and, 10 years on, the analysis isn’t quite different enough to offer a new perspective. However the addition of a section on 2017’s Faces Places, as well as lesser-known art installations and short films, and some new appearances by figures from her past – Sandra Bonnaire hunkers down in a field to discuss the making of Vagabond– proves that there is always something new to be found in Varda’s work.

Where some filmmakers could be accused of navel-gazing, Varda’s sincerity and love for learning keeps Varda by Agnésinteresting to those outside of her world. Her latest offering is an invitation to dive into the warm, charming and deeply personal world of one of the most unique filmmakers alive today. 

Stephanie Watts

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Credits:
1. Still from
Varda by Agnès.