French cinema is represented by a wide range of its production at the 65th edition of the San Sebastian International Film Festival, Zimemaldia, which opened this weekend in the Basque Country, Spain. No less than twenty French films are presented as “The Pain” by Emmanuel Finkiel, “120 Beats Per Minute” by Romain Campillo or “The Meaning of the Party” by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, and many co-productions. Four feature films are selected in the official competition for La Concha de Oro. And among the directors present in San Sebastián, two figures of the documentary: Agnès Varda crowned this Sunday, September 24 with a Donostia prize for all his work, which presents “Visages, villages” and Raymond Depardon, with “12 days” which will be released in France at the end of November. A dream casting.
Agnès Varda runs the world. She will be awarded an Oscar for all of her work in February and is preparing to leave for New York to find JR and accompany the release of Villages, faces, on the French screens since the spring. Agnès Varda’s latest documentary was also presented to the dense crowd on Sunday at the magnificent Victoria Eugenia Theater (1912) in San Sebastián, where the Basque public was able to hear a film in 1930 for the first time.
The director, who spoke Spanish, English, and French last year, celebrating her ” 88 spring ” in the words of JR, was surprised to receive this award, which usually rewards the big stars of a movie theater. commercial success (this year Monica Bellucci and Ricardo Darin are both awarded a Donostia prize), while she considers a modest and “marginal ” work. “A filmmaker not very bankable“, but who had to make quality movies since I still talk about my old films, she recognizes with a bit of coquetry.
Fictions, documentaries, short, medium or even feature films, from The Short Point , 1954 film, a ” radical film ” according to Agnès Varda and little known by the general public, to the beaches of Agnes, through Cleo from five to seven , Without roof or law, Happiness, Daguerreotypes or even the magnificent Ulysses, the director used all the forms of imagery at her disposal, inventing new ones if necessary, to tell stories.
Between poetry, essay or fiction, she has documented these last sixty years with a curiosity and an appetite never taken in default. Pushed back the hexagonal borders as Agnes Varda was also walking her camera on less familiar terrain across the Atlantic from where she will bring back the Black Panthers, on the emancipation struggle of American blacks at the time of Huey Newton’s trial, or Walls, walls , on the wall paintings in California, prefiguration who knows of his last work with JR, or even Hail the Cubans !
The documentary, “a school of modesty“
“I was thinking of stopping the cinema at the beaches of Agnes,” says the director, and then JR took me by the arm “… Agnès Varda continues to work, in particular in the form of artistic installations, less expensive and complex to “show life otherwise than in horrors “. “We know very well that the world is a terrible chaos, that everyday people take boats to migrate to another country and drown themselves.” A drama that echoes here in Spain where the arrivals of illegal immigrants are regular on the coast of Andalusia.
But the public also needs, alongside all these sufferings, sharing and encounters and there, documentary cinema has a role to play and in particular the one it claims. ” Life is very interesting for those who take the trouble to watch it, ” assures Agnes Varda who declares filming people and not characters to create ” friendship, surprise “. Alongside the fictions, she has always practiced the documentary, a ” school of modesty ” because we must not forget that we are at the service of the people we film, she recalls.
The director has already visited San Sebastián several times to present films and then as a family for a retrospective of the work of Jacques Demy in 2011, his ” dear love “. Each year, the San Sebastián festival organizes a large retrospective section devoted to a director. This year, Joseph Losey is honored. One can quite imagine that a similar tribute is paid to the work of Agnes Varda, filmmaker above all