Varda still shines her light on Cannes

Film-maker’s image provides backdrop to Festival

by Richard Mowe

La Pointe courte © 1994 Agnès Varda and her children - Montage and design : Flore Maquin
La Pointe courte © 1994 Agnès Varda and her children - Montage and design : Flore Maquin Photo: Festival de Cannes

The late Agnès Varda, often described as “the grandmother of the New Wave” appears as a young woman on the official poster of the 72nd Cannes International Film Festival unveiled for the first time today (15 April) ahead of the much anticipated programme announcement on Thursday.

Varda, who died on 29 March aged 90, appears on the striking poster as a 26-year-old making her first film La Ponte Courte in the bright sunlight perched atop the shoulders of an impassive technician. She is seen clinging to a camera, which, the organisers say, seems to absorb her entirely.

The film was shot in 1954 neighbourhood of Sète, in the South of France. In the dazzling summer light, Silvia Monfort and Philippe Noiret explore their fragile love, surrounded by struggling fishermen, bustling women, children at play and roaming cats.

Shot in natural settings, with a lightweight camera, and a shoestring budget La Pointe Courte was presented in Cannes, at a screening in a cinema on the Rue d’Antibes, in 1955.

The Cannes Film Festival organisers suggest that like a manifesto, this photo from the set sums up everything about Agnès Varda: her passion, aplomb, and mischievousness. Ingredients of a free artist, forming a recipe she never stopped improving. Her 65 years of creativity and experimentation almost match the age of the Festival de Cannes, "who celebrates each year visions which reveal, dare and rise higher. And who remains keen to remember.”

Varda always stressed that she was not 'a woman filmmaker' but simply 'a filmmaker'. She often attended the Festival to present her films: no less than 13 times in the Official Selection. She was also a Jury member in 2005 as well as President of the Caméra d’Or Jury in 2013. When she received the Honorary Palme d’Or, in 2015, she evoked “resilience and endurance, more than honour”, and dedicated it “to all the brave and inventive filmmakers, those who create original cinema, whether it’s fiction or documentary, who are not in the limelight, but who carry on.”

The organisers are pleased that Varda who managed to be both avant-garde but popular, intimate yet universal, should be “the inspirational guiding light” of the 72nd edition.

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