Grandma of the French New Wave

Often overlooked, Frenchwoman Agnes Varda was one of the most experimentative filmmakers of her time, earning herself the title of Grandmother of the French New Wave.

“Her films are extremely entertaining,” says Pranav Ashar, founder, Enlighten, who realised how much Indian audiences enjoyed her films after he screened Varda’s Jacquot de Nantes a few times. The film, which is about Varda’s husband, commercial film director Jacques Demy, is one of her earliest works.

Encouraged by the response, Ashar decided to screen three more of her works.

The festival begins with the screening of the black and white film Cleo from 5 to 7, which is also one of Varda’s early works. The film, made in 1962, chronicles two hours of the life of a pop singer.

Varda, explains Ashar, never limited herself to a genre. “Although she has a very distinct style, she explored a lot of different themes. She is extremely innovative with the camera and with her storylines,” says Ashar, about the prolific filmmaker.

It is no surprise then, that her more recent film Beaches of Agnes (2008) is so vastly different from Cleo. “This is Varda’s magnum opus. It is a documentary about the various phases of life,” reveals Ashar, adding that Varda refrains from using metaphors in her films. “Her movies are very straight forward. She talks only of the essential.”

Vagabond, the third film that will be screened this afternoon, is about a young penniless girl travelling alone. “The 1985 film, which is about being absolutely free, has Varda’s adopted daughter (her ex-boyfriend’s daughter) essaying the lead role,” says Ashar.

The beautiful thing about Varda’s films is that moments which aren’t filled with characters, are still full because they take you somewhere,” concludes Ashar.

On: Today, 12 pm
At: Russian Centre, Peddar Road
Call: 9870090105
Entry: R500 (for a festival pass) 

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