The 90-year-old giant of the Nouvelle Vague on her latest film, Faces Places, life with Jacques Demy, and that dirty rat Jean-Luc Godard
Agns Varda is a dizzying blur of dots polka-dot trousers, polka-dot shirt, polka-dot socks, polka-dot scarf. Ive always loved polka dots. Ah, oui. It is a joyful shape, the polka dot. It is alive. You could say the same of Varda. She is more joyously alive than anybody I have ever met.
The radical film-maker, grandmother of the Nouvelle Vague (she was only 30 when she was given that soubriquet a compliment of sorts) recently marked her 90th birthday with a huge feast and a swim in the ocean. Her latest film, Faces Places, is released in the UK this week. It was nominated for a best documentary Oscar earlier this year, making her the oldest nominee in Academy history.
Faces Places is a joint enterprise with 35-year-old French photographer/artist JR. The pair travel around rural France in JRs magic truck, which resembles a huge camera and doubles as a photo studio. They meet workers, talk to them about jobs that are fast changing or becoming obsolete, and celebrate their lives with huge portraits pasted on homes, walls, dockyards, rock faces and trains. In the film, Varda also revisits her own past and contemplates the future. It could easily be maudlin or depressing, but Faces Places is an exhilarating celebration of life.