Agnès Varda Bio
Agnès Varda 30 May 1928 – 29 March 2019) was a Belgian-born French film director. Her films, photographs, and art installations focused on documentary realism, feminist issues, and social commentary with a distinct experimental style.
Film historians have cited Varda’s work as central to the development of the French New Wave; her employment of location shooting and non-professional actors were unconventional in the context of 1950s French cinema. Among other awards and nominations over her career, she received honorary Palme d’or and Academy Awards, won a Golden Lion and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
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Agnès Varda Wiki/bio
30 May 1928
|Died||29 March 2019 (aged 90)
|Cause of death||Cancer|
|Occupation||Director, screenwriter, editor, actor, producer, installation artist, photographer|
(m. 1962; died 1990)
Early life, Agnès Varda Biography
Varda was born Arlette Varda on 30 May 1928 in Ixelles, Brussels, Belgium, the daughter of Christiane (née Pasquet) and Eugène Jean Varda, an engineer. Her mother was from Sète, France and her father came from a family of Greek refugees from Asia Minor. She was the third of five children. When she was 18 Varda legally changed her name to Agnès. During World War IIVarda lived on a boat in Sète with the rest of her family.
Varda attended the Lycée Victor-Duruy and received a Bachelor’s degree in literature and psychology from the Sorbonne. She described her relocation to Paris as a “truly excruciating” one that gave her “a frightful memory of my arrival in this grey, inhumane, sad city.” She did not get along with her fellow students at the Sorbonne and described classes there as “stupid, antiquated, abstract, [and] scandalously unsuited for the lofty needs one had at that age.”
Agnès Varda Career as a still photographer
Varda intended to become a museum curator and studied art history at the École du Louvre, but decided to study photography at the Vaugirard school of photography instead. She studied art history and photography at the École des Beaux-Arts.
Varda began her career as a still photographer before becoming one of the major voices of the Left Bank Cinema and the French New Wave. However, she maintained a fluid interrelationship between photographic and cinematic forms: “I take photographs or I make films. Or I put films in the photos, or photos in the films.”
Varda discussed her beginning with the medium of still photography: “I started earning a living from photography straightaway, taking trivial photographs of families and weddings to make money. But I immediately wanted to make what I called ‘compositions.’ And it was with these that I had the impression I was doing something where I was asking questions with composition, form and meaning.”
Early films and Agnès Varda career
The beginning of her career pre-dates the start of the Nouvelle vague (French New Wave), but contains many elements specific to that movement. While working as a photographer, Varda became interested in making a film, although she stated that she knew little about the medium and had only seen around twenty films by the age of twenty-five. She later said she wrote her first screenplay “just the way a person writes his first book.
When I’d finished writing it, I thought to myself: ‘I’d like to shoot that script,’ and so some friends and I formed a cooperative to make it.” She found the filmmaking process difficult because it didn’t allow the same freedom as writing a novel; however she said that her approach was instinctive and feminine. In an interview with The Believer, Varda stated that she wanted to make films that related to her time (in reference to La Pointe Courte), rather than focusing on traditions or classical standards
Varda as a feminist filmmaker
Varda’s work is often considered feminist because of her use of female protagonists and creating a female cinematic voice. Varda has been quoted stating, “I’m not at all a theoretician of feminism, I did all that—my photos, my craft, my film, my life—on my terms, my own terms, and not to do it like a man.” Though she was not actively involved in any strict agendas of the feminist movement, Varda often focused on women’s issues thematically and never tried to change her craft to make it more conventional or masculine.
Historically, Varda is seen as the New Wave’s mother. Film critic Delphine Bénézet has argued for Varda’s importance as “au feminin singulier,” a woman of singularity and of the utmost importance in film history. Varda embraced her femininity with distinct boldness.
Agnès Varda Personal life
In 1958 while living in Paris, she met her future husband, Jacques Demy, also a French director. They moved in together in 1959. She was married to Demy until his death in 1990. Varda worked on Academy nominated documentary Faces Places with her daughter.
Varda was the cousin of painter Jean Varda. In 1967 while living in California Varda met her father’s cousin for the first time. He is the subject of her short documentary Uncle Yanco, named after Jean Varda who referred to himself as Yanco and was affectionately called “uncle” by Varda due to the difference in age between them.
Varda died from cancer on 29 March 2019 in Paris, at the age of 90.
Jese Bal born Nov 9, 1982, is a novelist and poet. He has published novels, volumes of poetry, short stories, and drawings. His works are distinguished by the use of a spare style and have been compared to those of Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino.