The first director rewarded with the Donostia Prize continues to roll at 89 years with the same freedom as in its beginnings with the Nouvelle Vague.
Agnès Varda will receive the Oscar of Honor on 11 November. “It’s like a joke,” he demystifies. “The Oscars are given to well-known people who have made a lot of money. Directors who are like banks. And my films have never collected anything, “he confesses to THE MAIL. Varda even considered not picking it up, but her daughter asked if she was crazy. “I am a poor French artist who receives an Oscar, that makes me laugh, but I can not refuse. In America, moviegoers are very fond of a small and marginal part of the population. ”
To this “dinosaur” of the Nouvelle Vague, as it is self-taught, it seems to make the Donostia Prize more eager, which for the first time in its history fell to a director. “It means that there are people who still like what I do and encourage me to continue. Not too much, because I think I will stop and go quietly, if possible, to death. At age 89, Varda suffers from macular degeneration, a disease that causes blurred vision. Despite this, he continues to shoot films as free, groundbreaking and exciting as ‘Faces and Places,’ the film that has brought to San Sebastian and will be released in Spanish theaters next year.
Varda insisted on being a director when the women behind the camera counted on the fingers of a hand. It began in 1954, five years before the Nouvelle Vague. Almost all the inventions attributed to modern filmmakers are ways of looking at the life she had already used half a century ago. In ‘Cleo from 5 to 7’ (1961), her most famous film, followed in real time to a woman waiting for the result of medical tests. Poetry, prose, and essay are intermixed in a filmography that breaks the barriers between documentary and fiction. His own life is the subject of his films, as in ‘Faces and Places,’ where he toured France together with the street artist and photographer J. R, 34, a sort of French Banksy who has become famous installing his large works in public places.
“I filmed my hands with their veins and wrinkles and showed them to my five grandchildren. They say that their grandmother has landscapes in their hands, “says the widow of Jacques Demy, the unforgettable author of ‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.’ Death to this petite woman of unmistakable short bicolored mane does not scare her. “I have many reasons to live, not just the movies. My body breaks down, but I can still work with much pleasure. Thanks to my daughter, who has been in charge of the production, I have been able to make this film little by little. I am surrounded by folks who love me and protect me. Life is long, and I think it’s fine to stand up. I’m not going to throw Urumea or Cantabrian. If I sleep in my bed tonight and do not wake up, then very well. ”
‘Faces and places’ shows that you can be almost nonagenarian and have more daring than a twenty-year-old. Varda and JR travel in the van of the artist in search of faces: a farmer who harvests alone with his tractor 800 hectares of land, the women of the stevedores of Le Havre, the ringer of a town … last inhabitant of an old mining town and stamped his large photograph in his house. The film is full of humanism, a fraternity with France and its people and love of cinema. A celebration of life tinged with melancholy in the memory of the pride of the workers, their beloved Jacques Demy or the other living “dinosaur” of the Nouvelle Vague, Jean-Luc Godard, whom they will visit in the last section of the film, although this it gives them seedling.
– Speaks in the film about the happiness of women. Is it different from that of men?
– Sure, it’s not the same manufacturer. But there is a kind of happiness that can be shared with men. And also with cats sometimes … There is a phrase of Simone de Beauvoir that I like a lot: “A woman is not born: it is done.” The consciousness of being a woman can be built. When I started, there were only three or four directors. Why did not they continue? Perhaps they were not bold enough, but now there are hundreds of producers in France.
– What makes cinema?
– I have always tried to find forms for the subject that I was going to address both in the film and in photography or art. I have worked a lot in the structure, in the matter of the cinema. I have not wanted to make fiction with known actors or adaptations of books, but I have tried that the theater comes from the life. My films come from my life, from my status as a woman but also as a citizen, wife, grandmother.
– That’s why the documentary is perfect.
– Yes. Documentaries are the school of modesty because you are at the service of the people you are filming. You are an intermediary between them and the public. The reality is full of the noise of others, and you have to know how to listen. For example, we went to see the stevedores of Le Havre, so macho, and I chose to remove their wives. I always say that feminism is done with men. I try to eliminate prejudices and stereotypes, to break the lack of curiosity and love.
– And chance, as it says in ‘Faces and Places,’ is a perfect assistant.
– The best. You have to have the desire for it to happen and prepare it. Chance does not knock on the door; you have to be curious and empathetic on the set. We went to a factory, and I met an operator on his last day of work after 35 years. And he tells you that he feels like a cliff. And suddenly you understand what it means to work a whole life and to stand.
– Advocates, in short, to be at peace with our surroundings.
– We live in a chaotic world, a horror, with drowning emigrants when they try to go to another country and abandoned children everywhere. My work is modest and local. My films are not blockbusters, but in return give tenderness and warmth. Runs from tear to smile, as in life.