Agnès Varda Dies: French Film Director & New Wave Pioneer Was 90


Agnès Varda, the French director who helmed films including La Pointe Courte and Cleo from 5 to 7 and won an Honorary Oscar and multiple Cannes Film Festival awards, died Thursday evening due to complications from cancer. She was 90.

“She was surrounded by her family and friends,” the family said in a statement.

Despite ill health, she was at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, where she presented Varda by Agnès and received an award.

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.

Her many career accolades include an Honorary Oscar in 2018, an Honorary Golden Palm at Cannes and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Film Awards. She also was a two-time Palme d’Or nominee at Cannes, won a Golden Lion at Venice and Silver Bear from Berlin and earned three Cesar Awards

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.

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