Tag Archives: Agnès Varda


MODEL SHOP opens on a rough patch of Venice Beach in decay—an ambience its director maintains throughout this essential glimpse of untethered lives and anomie at the end of the sixties.

The first and last American film directed by Jacques Demy, MODEL SHOP stars Gary Lockwood and Anouk Aimée as two Los Angeles drifters. Agnès Varda made the trip over from France with Demy to scout locations for her own California story, Lions Love (… and Lies).


Tuesday, June 18, at 7:30 pm.

New Beverly Cinema

7165 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles.

From top: Anouk Aimée and Gary Lockwood in Model Shop (2); film poster; opening titles shot; Lockwood.


If Agnès Varda was the mother of the nouvelle vague, Alice Guy-Blaché (1873–1968) was the mother of cinema, period. She was an early viewer of the Lumière brothers shorts and was one of the first filmmakers of either gender to explore the narrative possibilities of the medium—influencing the work of Eisenstein and Hitchcock, to name just two. In addition to directing and producing, she founded and ran Solax Studio out of Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Not that anyone would know these things, considering how her male colleagues in the fledgling industry erased her contributions. Her husband, Herbert Blaché, took credit for Solax, and her boss, Léon Gaumont, failed to acknowledge her in the studio records. Male film historians hardly picked up the slack during Guy-Blaché’s life or since her death.

The new documentary BE NATURAL—THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY-BLACHÉ—directed by Pamela B. Green and narrated by Jodie Foster—goes a long way toward righting these wrongs, and is screening in downtown Los Angeles through Thursday.


Through May 23.

Downtown Independent

251 South Main Street, Los Angeles.

From top: Alice Guy-Blaché directing Bessie Love in Great Adventure (1918); Guy-Blaché directing My Madonna, with Olga Petrova and John Hass; Alice Guy-Blaché, A Fool and his Money (still), one of the first narrative films to feature an African-American cast; Alice Guy-Blaché, Scarlet Woman (still); Guy-Blaché directing My Madonna; Love (left) and Guy-Blaché. Images courtesy and © Pamela B. Green and Kino Lorber.


“Each film has its history, its beauty or not beauty, and its meaning.  The meaning can change over the years for people who watch the film, because there is a lot of evolution in the sense of history, the sense of understanding.  But when you speak about 35 millimeter or DCP or video, it’s unimportant. The film is what it is, but what is different are the people who made the film…

“I change.  I wouldn’t do the same film today about Cuba or about the Panthers or about women.  Each film has a date glued to it.  And what we try is to overcome the date and make a meaning that can be more than 1962 or 1961 or whatever.” — Agnès Varda

Varda—mother of the nouvelle vague—was born outside Brussels, made some of her most important films in California, and died this morning at her home in Paris.

Active into her late eighties, local audiences remember many of her recent trips to Los Angeles, presenting retrospectives at the American Cinematheque and LACMA, giving talks at the AFI festival, and receiving a Governor’s Award from the Academy in 2017.

Varda—who directed Cléo de 5 à 7 in Paris in 1961—and her husband Jacques Demy (1931–1990) first came to Los Angeles in 1966, Demy eventually directing Model Shop (1969) and Varda making shorts—Uncle Yanco, Black Panthers—in preparation for her first California feature, the remarkable Lions Love (… and Lies) (also 1969). Varda’s final completed work is the soon-to-be-released documentary Varda par Agnès.

From top: Agnès Varda on the set of Lions Love (… and Lies); Varda shooting her second feature Cléo de 5 à 7 in Paris in the early 1960s, photograph by Roger Viollet; Anouk Aimée (left), Jacques Demy, and Varda in Los Angeles during the shoot of Demy’s Model Shop; scene from Varda’s Black Panthers (1968), shot in Oakland; Sabine Mamou (right) and Mathieu Demy—Varda and Demy’s son—in Varda’s feature Documenteur (1981), shot in Los Angeles; Venice Beach scene from the documentary Mur Murs (1981); Varda and Jane Birkin on set, Jane B. par Agnès V. (1988), photograph by Jean Ber; Varda in Varda par Agnès (2019). Images courtesy Ciné-Tamaris.


Agnès Varda is the mother of New Wave cinema, which was born in the mid-fifties with the release of Varda’s first feature LA POINTE COURTE.

“How unusual [in 1955] to see a woman’s perspective on love presented so plainly as Varda does in LA POINTE COURTE. The film is radical in its deconstruction of feminine desire and ennui.

“After four years of marriage, Elle (Silvia Monfort) contemplates leaving her husband (Lui, played by Philippe Noiret). Not framed in Hollywood terms, the woman has no measurable reason for this change of heart except her own fledgling doubt over the idea of love itself.” — Justine A. Smith*

The film will screen this week as part of the She Makes Media series at Cal State Northridge.



Wednesday, October 3, at 7 pm.

Armer Screening Room , CSUN, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, Los Angeles.

*See: vaguevisages.com/la-pointe-courte

Above image credit: Criterion.

Below: Silvia Monfort (foreground) and Philippe Noiret in La pointe courte.


Agnès Varda’s film LIONS LOVE (… AND LIES)—shot in 1968 in the days preceding and following the shootings of Andy Warhol (who survived) and Bobby Kennedy (who didn’t)—is a story of Eden-under-siege among a trio of Hollywood Hills freedom-seekers, remarkably played by Warhol superstar Viva, and James Rado and Gerome Ragni (the lyricists of Hair).

“[Varda’s] film is more than a time capsule of events and moods—it’s a living aesthetic model for revolutionary times.” — Richard Brody, The New Yorker*

LIONS LOVE (… AND LIES) is part of the Criterion Collection box AGNÈS VARDA IN CALIFORNIA (which also includes BLACK PANTHERS and DOCUMENTEUR), available now.

See Sasha Archibald, “End of the End of the End: Agnès Varda in Los Angeles”:



* newyorker.com/goings-on-about-town/movies/lions-love-and-lies

This week in Toronto, Varda and her new collaborator, the French street artist JR, present their film VISAGES VILLAGES/FACES PLACES, wherein they roam the countryside in JR’s truck, encountering farmers, cheese makers, coal miners—the faces of whom JR memorializes in huge monochromatic portraits. Their journey eventually lands them at the door of Jean-Luc Godard.

VISAGES VILLAGES/FACES PLACES, Monday, September 11; Wednesday, September 13; Friday, September 15; and Sunday, September 17.



Film Comment interview with Varda is the cover story in the current issue.



From top:

Agnès Varda and JR. Visages Villages/Faces Places (2016). Image credit: Le Pacte.

Gerome Ragni, Viva, and James Rado in Lions Loves… (and Lies), (1969). Image credit: Criterion.

Film Comment, September/October 2017 issue. Image credit: Film Comment.

The first issue of Interview, with Varda (center) and the cast of Lions Loves… (and Lies).

Agnès Varda et JR sur le tournage de "Visages, villages".