Conversation with Agnes Varda


Susan Kouguell in IndieWire, the discussion between Varda and Jean Michel Frodon:

Frodon: There was an important event in the history of world cinema — the New Wave. Just before the official opening of the Locarno Festival we screened “The 400 Blows,” but actually you started the New Wave with your film”La Point Courte,” which was quite original, stunning, and unlike all the others. You were no film buff, you were a woman, not a cinephile and being a woman with quite unique characteristics.

Varda: I’m troubled with the term “New Wave”. The New Wave included a number of young, new filmmakers but to me, there was the group the Cahiers du Cinema critics who loved American films, among them Truffaut. And like me, not knowing anything about filmmaking, were Jacques Demy, Chris Marker, and me. We were farther to the left than the others. These people were grouped in the same category as if we were a group. I felt different from the Cahiers du Cinema movement. I had no knowledge of French and American cinema, and I thought structure was more important than the way the films were shot.

My references were not from film. For example: When people would put their hands on their knees, I called that an “Egyptian shot,” or I would say, “Face” rather than “close up.” I knew nothing about film jargon.

Frodon: You did photography and theatre so you were in an artistic circle.

Varda: The theatre-goers, do not necessarily go to movies and vice versa. Actually the disciplines are quite separate. I watched many theatre plays but I didn’t know about cinema. I went to a lot of museums. I read a lot. I had my diploma. I took a year off just to read. I got up at nine in the morning, and read all afternoon as if I was going to school. I would read great classics. You don’t have time to read at school. This helped me a lot to think.

More here.