Agnès Varda will be honored for the body of her work at the closing ceremony of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. She’s the first woman selected for this distinction. Only three other directors — Woody Allen, Clint Eastwood and Bernardo Bertolucci — have been recognized in this way for the global impact of their body of work.

From her first film, La Pointe Courte in 1954, Varda’s style reflected elements of what would become the French New Wave although because she preceded that movement her work is more Left Bank in style. Her next feature, Cleo From 5 To 7, was a documentary style look at a singer awaiting results of a biopsy, which foreshadowed Varda’s fascination with human mortality. Her films also tended to focus on women and her subsequent Vagabond examined the investigation of the death of a female drifter.

She married film director Jacques Demy in 1962 and after his death in 1990, she made Jacquot de Nantes, about his life and death. 

In 2000, she used a digital camera to make The Gleaners and I. Her 2008 autobiographical work Les plages d’Agnès picked up France’s the César for best documentary.

A well-rounded and multifaceted artist, she started out as a photographer. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art held an exhibition entitled “Agnes Varda in Californialand” in 2013. The show was a sort of reflection of the time Varda spent in Los Angeles in the ’60s and included sculpture, photographs and short films.