The Believer just ran a great interview with Agnes Varda in their latest Issue. The kicker? It’s invented. Varda refused to conduct individual meetings with reporters. Hence, BLVR interviewer Sheila Heti transcribed bits of dialogue captured in Varda’s hotel room at the Toronto International Film Festival and penned interview questions to match after the fact.
Key topics covered: Gleaning, rosemary, the “after-night pill” and being called the “Grandmother of the Nouvelle Vague.”
I wrote a short post a few months back after I’d seen Varda’s latest film, Les Plages D’Agnes, an autobiographical documentary about her life, her life’s work, and her loves. I was interested in the way the film relied on images as a mode of narrative removed from literal time and space. In a list of the many great things about the recent Believer interview, one of the greats is the following exchange:
BLVR: The way you made Les plages d’Agnès can be seen as a kind of gleaning—you found material that already existed to put in your film. It is almost like you were looking into the ground, bringing up images from the past, from old films you had made, and photographs, and scenes from the films of your late husband, Jacques Demy.
AV: But gleaning is getting things that are abandoned. I did not abandon my early pictures, my photos, my early films. It’s just going through my body of work as something I can pick from—I pick this and that and that. It’s like I had a collection of my work and I could choose this one or this one. With Jane Birkin, we had a scene from a film called Jane B. by Agnès V.—a portrait I made in ’87. We had a casino scene, surrealistic, in which we had some naked people gambling. Jane Birkin was the card dealer and I was the player. I had beautiful jewelery around me, and when I lost I would take the jewelery and say, Service—being very generous, because it was very expensive jewelery. I would say, Tip.
Now, I just take this piece of film, and I make a narration in Les plages where I say I’m losing. I say that I lost my father. We are watching the roulette ball, and the ball stops and I say, That is where it fell—and he died. He lost, he fell, he died. Which is a totally different use of the same images. That was my game. And it works. You can have seen Jane B. or not.
Check out the interview for yourself in full, here.