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Varda, Agnès

Varda, Agnès änyĕs´ värdä´ [key] 1928–2019, French filmmaker, b. Brussels. Varda began her career as a theatrical photographer (1951–61) and photojournalist. Her first film, La Pointe Courte (1954), has been called the first work of France's cinematic New Wave. She is the only female filmmaker associated with the movement, and is often called its mother, grandmother, or godmother. Fiercely independent, she established a reputation for originality and feminist concerns in Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961), the real-time story of a pop star awaiting a crucial medical diagnosis. Subsequently, she directed some 30 films (and wrote many of them), often focusing on the themes of isolation and loneliness. Her first film, La Pointe Courte (1955), bridged the gap between 1940s realism and the New Wave. Her best-known features include Happiness, (1965) The Creatures (1966), One Sings, the Other Doesn't (1977), Vagabond (1985), and Jane B. by Agnes V. (1987), which mixes fiction and docudrama. Varda's documentaries include Black Panthers (1968), two tributes (1991, 1995) to her husband, the director Jacques Demy, The Gleaners and I (2003), and The Beaches of Agnès (2008), a collagelike cinematic memoir. Her final film, Varda by Agnès (2019), chronicles her career. In 2017 she received an honorary Acadamy Award for lifetime achievement.

See T. J. Kline, Agnès Varda: Interviews (2013); studies by A. Smith (1998), D. Benezet (2014), K. Conway (2015), M.-C. Barnet (2016), and R. J. Deroo (2017).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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