The World through the eyes of Agnès Varda
The only female director of the French New Wave, Agnès Varda has been called both the movement’s mother and its grandmother. Critics see her as one of the most influential directors of this movement along with Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut. When she made her debut film, she had no professional cinema training (her early work included painting, sculpting, and photojournalism). This film was the fiction-documentary hybrid 1956’s "La Pointe-Courte" and it is often considered the unofficial first New Wave film. Though not widely seen, the film got her commissions to make several documentaries in the late fifties.
In 1962, she released her second film that follows all the New Wave canons − "Cleo from 5 to 7". Pop singer Cléo is worried while awaiting results of her biopsy. During an hour and a half, walking the streets of Paris and talking in cafés, Cléo comes to terms with her selfishness, finding peace before the results come back. A bold character study that avoids psychologizing, this film announced director’s official arrival. French Syndicate of Cinema Critics has awarded this film with Critics Award for Best Film.
Over the following decades, Varda became a force in art cinema, conceiving many of her films as political and feminist statements, and using a radical objectivity to create her unforgettable characters. She describes her style as cinécriture (writing on film), and it can be seen in her feature film "Happiness" − one of Agnès Varda’s most provocative films. The main character is François, a young carpenter, who lives happily with his wife and children. His life is divided between the carpenter’s shop, picnics in the country and peaceful evenings at home. It seems like he reached happiness and there is nothing missing from his life. But one day he meets a postal clerk called Emilie and finds himself falling unquestioningly into an affair with her. Agnès Varda examines the ideas of fidelity and happiness in a modern, self-centered world with a deceptively cheery palette and the spirited strains of Mozart. As the director herself said about the film: "Happiness is a mistaken sadness, and the film will be subversive in its great sweetness. It will be a beautiful summer fruit with a worm inside. Happiness adds up; torment does too". The film was awarded with “Silver Bear” at Berlinale and the Louis-Delluc Best Film award.
"Lions love (…and lies)" (1969) tells a story about bold dreams and the spontaneity of youth. Three young actors move to Hollywood to make a career, but end up having a great time with each other. They are genuinely lively, talented and relaxed; nothing imposed or recommended intervenes with their feelings and thoughts, they live as if they were reinventing every emotion and sensation. Their paradise is disrupted by an independent director from New York who becomes a guest in their house. Conquered by their freedom, she decides to make a film about this trio. This is the way Agnès explained the name of this film: "Lions – because of the hair of the actors. Love – because it was a love triangle. And lies – because it was all about the news and Hollywood. Everything on the set was fake by half: there were real columns and there were fake ones. Secrets and lies. Hollywood is the same – fake, but real at the same time".
Fate brings two main heroines of 1997 "One sings, the other doesn’t" together in Paris in the beginning of 1960s. Pauline is an aspiring young singer, Suzanne is a country girl pregnant with a third child. Two women become friends and Pauline lends Suzanne the money for an illegal abortion (abortions were officially banned in France until 1975). After that they are seperated for a long time, before meeting again 10 years later at a women’s rights demonstration. They have a lot to say to each other… Agnès Varda has said this about the film: "There were partial documentaries about everything that was happening at that time but fiction gave me the scope for a more precise rendering of the situations, events and different reactions of the two characters. Valérie Mairesse plays Pomme, a young activist, with her energy and her upbeat and adventurous personality. On the other hand, Thérèse Liotard gives a more classical rendering of a woman who is trying to rebuild her life and regain her identity and who wants to help others as well".
"Vagabond" (1985) is one of the most impressive films in cinema history, combining a feature-like story with documentary poetry. A body of a young women – Mona – is found frozen in a ditch in southern France at winter. Through flashbacks and interviews with random and close acquaintances, Agnès unveils the story of this mysterious woman with a puzzling fate. Film was awarded with the "Golden Lion" at Venice film festival as well as the FIPRESCI Prize and OCIC Award. Sandrine Bonnaire was chosen as the best actress at César Awards. As Agnès noted about the movie: "I hate when the music is just accompanying the action. Sweeping violin and then love, and then, boom, boom, boom for fear. So with Vagabond, I separated the music. It’s only when she walks, so you could only hear the music, and her steps on different material in the field, on the street, on the dry leaves, on the sand, so that we know the material she walks on and the music, nothing else. The action isn’t underscored by the music".
"Jane B. for Agnes V." (1987) is a film about famous french actress (who worked both in theatre and cinema) and singer Jane Birkin. In this kaleidoscopic film made of various fragments of fictions, over various seasons, Jane Birkin plays various parts including her own with humour.
"Kung Fu master (Le petit amour)" (1987) is a provocative yet delicate romantic docudrama with Jane Birkin and Charlotte Gainsbourg that introduces the audience to Mary-Jane, an english woman in her early fourties. She lives in Paris and is raising two daughters – Lou and Lucy. But single mother’s life is changed dramatically after she meets 14-years-old Julien at a house party. She falls in love with a teenage boy, who is passionate about a video game called "Kung-Fu Master". As Julien spends more and more time with Mary-Jane, people around them become frustrated with their relationship. But what can be done if Mary-Jane is a teenager in a grown women body?
"Faces, Places" (2017) is one of the last, but not least important movies by Agnès Varda, who was 89-years-old during its filming. For this movie Agnès teamed up with French photographer and muralist JR who is just as passionate about images as she is. Together they made a documentary road-movie while traveling in a photo truck across French villages. Along this journey they meet the locals, learn their stories and create portraits based on them revealing the humanity in their subjects. The photos are displayed on houses, barns, storefronts and trains. This movie documents heartwarming encounters and tender friendship. Film received "The Golden Eye" award for best documentary at Cannes film festival and was also nominated for Oscar in the “Best Documentary Feature” category.
The founders of the MIFF "Listapad" are the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Belarus and the Minsk City Executive Committee. The organizer is Visual and Performing Arts Centre "Art Corporation".
The general sponsor of the Film Festival is bank card "Shchodraya" Mastercard.
The official sponsors are "Kinovideoprokat" of the Minsk City Executive Committee, Falcon Club Cinema Boutique, Air Company "Belaviа", "Beltelecom", official ticket agent "Bycard". Powered by Belteleradiocompany, Film Studio "Belarusfilm" and Advertising Agency "Forte".
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