Agnès Varda

1928 – 2019
Airing Le Bonheur (1965) on Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 6:30 AM on TCM

Agnès Varda is often called the “grandmother of the New Wave”, completing her first feature, La Pointe Courte (1954), five years before the French New Wave’s first films. Varda’s narrative told two parallel tales: the jagged romance of a young married couple and the struggles of the fishermen in the village of La Pointe Courte. Critic Georges Sadoul called it “certainly the first film of the Nouvelle Vague” and it set the tone for Varda’s career, combining fiction with documentary, illustrating Varda’s desire to expand the language of film. “I had the feeling,” she said later, “that the cinema was not free, above all in its form, and that annoyed me. I wanted to make a film exactly as one writes a novel.”

Although she lit the fuse under the New Wave, it was not until the feature debuts of her male counterparts that Varda received another opportunity to direct a feature – Cleo From 5 to 7 (1961), which established her as a significant talent on the international film scene. Throughout the following decades she remained active by directing numerous shorts and documentaries, completing the autobiographical documentary Varda by Agnès before her death in 2019.

Select Filmography

La Pointe Courte (1955)
Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961)
One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (1977)
The Gleaners and I (2000)
Faces Places (2017)