Keswick Film Club - Reviews - Varda by Agnes

Reviews - Varda by Agnes

Varda by Agnes

Reviewed By Chris Coombes

Varda by Agnes
Varda by Agnes
The Keswick Film Club audience last Sunday enjoyed "Varda by Agnes". Unusually for the film club it was a documentary. It was in French and English, and directed by its subject Agnes Varda who, in 60 years in the film industry, has made 55 films – some of which have been shown at the film club (The Beaches of Agnes, Faces Places, for example). The documentary was shown this year at the Berlin Film Festival a month before she died at the age of 90, and knowing this made the film a particularly special event.

It was not an easy watch. From the outset we were presented with a kaleidoscope of memories, film clips, shots of Varda giving lectures to various audiences, Varda discussing her myriad artistic ideas – with very little in the way of cohesion or some sense that what we were viewing fitted into a structure. But this in and of itself told us a lot about a woman who seems to have lived a life brimming with artistic intent and the will and energy to realise her intentions, often by flying in the face of convention.

She spoke about her guiding principles of inspiration, creativity and sharing, and she seems to have immersed herself completely in them throughout her life. She clearly cared hugely about social issues such as homelessness and poverty and was able to find innovative and memorable ways to present her concerns through art – not always necessarily using film but working in a variety of media. However, she was unsentimental – pointing out that we notice what is wrong in the world but then we forget and this is how we manage to live.

The second part of the film was calmer and more easy to follow, although I’m not really sure why. By the end I was able to appreciate Agnes Varda as a true humanitarian and a thoughtful and brave communicator dedicated to following her passions. A life well lived. This was a fascinating glimpse at the workings of a most unusual mind.

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