The New Yorker lauds her “radically personal films.” The British Film Institute calls her “a playful visionary.” Editors of The Criterion Collection declare she is the “mother and grandmother of the French New Wave.” And in 2017, when she was awarded an honorary Oscar, special mention was made of her “compassion and curiosity that inform a uniquely personal cinema.”
But you don’t have to be a film critic or a cinema historian to enjoy and appreciate the wonder and joy of an Agnès Varda movie. You only need a Fresno County Public Library card.
Varda, who passed away in March 2019, is both filmmaker and subject of the next Filmworks movie, “Varda by Agnès,” screening Jan. 10. Filmworks regulars will recognize Varda from our January 2018 presentation of her previous film, “Faces Places,” an imaginative collaboration with the muralist and artist JR that introduced a new generation to the works of one of cinema’s all-time innovators.
We hope you join us at the historic Tower Theatre for “Varda by Agnès,” to see her remarkable final film on the big screen. Whether you do or not, you can use your library card anytime to access the streaming service Kanopy, where you can backtrack and see seven of Varda’s previous films and a five-part TV series — all with your library card. (You currently get 10 plays a month on Kanopy through the Fresno County Public Library’s subscription.) Here are some highlights:
“Cleo from 5 to 7” (1962)
From Kanopy: “Varda eloquently captures Paris in the sixties with this real-time portrait of a singer (Corinne Marchand) set adrift in the city as she awaits test results of a biopsy. A chronicle of the minutes of one woman’s life, ‘Cleo from 5 to 7’ is a spirited mix of vivid vérité and melodrama, featuring a score by Michel Legrand (‘The Umbrellas of Cherbourg’) and cameos by Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina.”
“Jane B. by Agnès V.” (1988)
From Kanopy: “Never before released in the U.S. until 2015, Varda paints a portrait of a woman (Jane Birkin) in a marvelously expressionistic way. ‘Jane B. by Agnès V.’ abandons the bio-pic format, favoring instead a freewheeling mix of fantasy sequences.”
“Kung-Fu Master!” (1987)
“The Beaches of Agnès” (2009)
From Kanopy: “A reflection on art, life, and the movies, ‘The Beaches of Agnès’ is a magnificent film from the great Varda, a richly cinematic self portrait that touches on everything from the feminist movement and the Black Panthers to the films of her husband Jacques Demy and the birth of the French New Wave.”
A multimedia storyteller who works for Fresno State, Jefferson Beavers serves on the Filmworks advisory board.