The Gleaners And I

The Gleaners And I


Reviewed by: Symon Parsons

Making a documentary on people who collect what others throw away doesn't sound like great material does it? But this is a film all about finding value where others see nothing, and Agnes Varda's good-natured documentary does exactly that.

Varda herself is a big part of this film. Her eccentric humour and relentless enthusiasm takes her into the countryside to explore the history of the gleaners - traditionally those who clean up what's left after the harvest.

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From there she travels to the cities to see what urban gleaners get up to, and finds artists finding material in scrap and a man who eats left-overs as a form of activism against waste.

She also discovers that gleaning can be fun - after all when something has no value it's more easily shared, treasured and ultimately given value.

If I'm making this sound dull, then I'm doing Varda a misservice because her sense of humour dominates the film. Where else can you see a documentary that includes a scene of a lawyer in a cabbage field, a fridge full of Lego revolutionaries, a dancing lens cap and a dog wearing a boxing glove?

This film isn't some polemic against waste, it's a journey to places you'd never go, to see things you'd never expect to find. As salvage artist Louis Pont puts it, "Where others see a cluster of junk, I see a cluster of opportunity."

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Director Agnes Varda goes in search of those who live on what others leave behind.
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Director: Agnes Varda

Writer: Agnes Varda

Year: 2000

Runtime: 82 minutes

Country: France


EIFF 2000

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