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Three films presenting Agnés Varda's cinematic explorations of her Parisienne neighbours – from lovers and drifters to shopkeepers and statues – via the magic of film.
Diary of a Pregnant Woman [L’opéra-mouffe]
(France, 1958, Agnés Varda, 17 mins)
Varda’s second film sings with the compassion and formal creativity that would become her hallmark as a filmmaker, through an ‘opera’ of Paris’ Rue Mouffetard. Made whilst Varda herself was pregnant (her belly is the film’s first shot), the filmmaker combines documentation of street life with fictive staged scenes, realism with surrealism, to birth a film that observes and imagines the texture of urban life, paying close attention to the lives of the less fortunate through the gaze of a distinctly female flâneur.
(France, 1975, Agnès Varda, 75 min)
"Daguerréotypes is not a film about the Rue Daguerre (a picturesque street in the fourteenth district of Paris where I live), it is a film about one block of that street (between number 70 and number 90). This is not an inquiry nor a sociological study of the inhabitants, even though it tells a great deal about the ‘silent majority’. It is more or less a casual look at my neighbors. The film could be an archive for archeologists and sociologists in the next century. As I shot L’opéra-mouffe on rue Mouffetard, Daguerréotypes is my L’opéra-daguerre." ?– Agnès Varda
With great humanism and tenderness, Varda explores the lives and labour of her immediate neighbours. Aided by the magician Mystag, Varda conjures the 90 metres that surround her front door (an area defined by the cable run through her own letter box that powered her equipment) into a cinematic living museum. A time capsule of a block of a road, a celebration of Parisienne urbanity, Varda enables her street’s shopkeeper’s to become protagonists in a demonstration of the cinema and lives that lie, often overlooked, on the doorstep.
The So-Called Caryatids
(France, 1984, Agnés Varda, 13 mins)
Through Baudelaire’s poetry, Rameau’s music, and her own singular cinematic and pensive observations, Varda gives voice to the caryatids of Paris – the classical female sculptures used as architectural supports or pillars on building facades. An essay film full of playfulness, poetry and insight, with some of the silent women who literally keep Paris standing at its heart.