Photo by Lucy Nicholson/AP/REX/Shutterstock
Flavorwire: You once said: “I’ve always been like this — trying to find adventure where it’s still in its first élan — the first spring.” What do you, as a storyteller involved in your own adventures, see as the next big adventure that’s currently being explored by other filmmakers (or perhaps hasn’t yet been discovered by others)?
Agnès Varda: For some film directors every new film is an adventure. Not many of them see a new film as a new experiment or a new approach to the language of cinema, which is what I am interested in.
In a sense you’ve had three lives or three identities: as a photographer, a filmmaker, and now, as an artist who makes film and visual art. Exploring intersecting identities is a common approach for artists, but you have always been more interested in collective or communal identities — especially those that are on the margins (such as The Gleaners & I) — and the internal life we all share. How do you know when you’ve captured the true essence of someone or something on film?
Who can pretend having captured the real essence of someone? Every person is a jigsaw puzzle, and we understand or capture some pieces, but other will always be missing. What I try is to present people and situations through different media, erasing the borders between documentary and fiction, black and white and color, still images and moving ones. It seems to me that it gives some options to the viewers to discover or approach one person — fictional or not — or a group of people sharing a common social identity.
Your movies Lions Love (… and Lies), Black Panthers, Mur murs, and Uncle Yanco are a time capsule of Los Angeles during a transformative period, but also your own life. What French ideologies or sensibilities did you bring to Los Angeles? How did your lens on Los Angeles transform the city through cinema?
I have loved my two life sections in California, and especially LA. Being a curious person, I was looking for inventive shapes or styles of cinema to share my observations and discoveries.
Your presence in your films is such an integral part of your work. You are living cinema. I imagine that one day someone will honor your life’s work in a biographical film. How does that prospect make you feel? If you could choose an actress or actor to play you in a film, who would it be?
My voice or sometimes my occasional presence in my films is part of my editing, an essential part of my filmmaking.
Have you seen The Beaches of Agnès? I tried a self-documentary portrait covering my life and work over 80 years. I wouldn’t like a fiction or biopic about me. Please! At least wait for my death.
Do the kids still call you “Mamie Punk?”
It was actually Mamita Punk, sometimes only MAMITA. I love it!