Agnes Varda, the Belgian-born grande dame of French cinema, made her latest film ‘Agnes by Varda’ to help bid farewell to her viewers, but the 90-year-old doesn’t rule out making more movies.
Speaking hours before being awarded the Berlin Film Festival’s Berlinale Camera award for lifetime achievement, Varda — director of ‘La Pointe Courte’ (1955) and ‘Vagabond’ (1985) — dismissed attempts to lionise her.
“I’m not a legend, I’m still alive,” she exclaimed after the moderator at Wednesday’s press conference introduced the “legendary” figure, seen as a founder of the French New Wave, one of the most influential movements in cinema history.
Her latest film shows her discussing her oeuvre before live audiences, with extracts from earlier films like the feminist classic ‘Cleo from 5 to 7’ spliced in. In between, she interviews the actors and cinematographers she collaborated with.
“I’m very interested in other people,” she said, “and in the film you saw a lot of people who have been so important to me... I have to prepare myself to say goodbye and go away.”
The film also explores her later career as a visual artist, examining a series of video installations now on display in New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Cartier Foundation in Paris, as well as a series of sheds she built using endless spools of celluloids made redundant by the digital revolution.
A near-contemporary of giants of similar stature like Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut, Varda’s career continues to the present day. Asked if ‘Agnes by Varda’ was her final film, she said she might not be able to work until the age of 102.
“But so far so good.”