In what may be Varda’s last film, this documentary is made in the same warm and exploratory spirit as her previous films, The Beaches of Agnès and The Gleaners, but here for the first time she has a collaborator, the photographic installation artist JR. Their mission is to travel around industrial and rural France in JR’s van in which he creates architectural photographs. Vital and inquisitive as always, Varda interviews their subjects, making the monumental photographs which adorn the sides of buildings, barns and other structures to be fully autobiographical and celebratory. A joyful and poignant film.
“Sheer perfection – that’s the phrase that springs to mind when describing the humanist miracle that is Faces Places, the year’s best and most beguiling documentary.” (Peter Travers, rollingstone.com)
Dir: Agnès Varda 94mins France 2017
Dr Ann Miller, formerly of the Department of Modern Languages, Leicester University, returns to introduce and discuss this latest film from renowned director, Agnès Varda
Tonight’s film is introduced and discussed by Ann Miller, who has visited ABCD Film Society to present a francophone film annually since 1997
The films Ann has introduced include Agnès Varda’s The Gleaners (Les Glaneurs et La Glaneuse, 2000) and The Beaches of Agnès (Les Plages d’Agnès, 2008). For many years she taught French at Westminster College, where she was responsible for training language teachers. She then moved to Leicester University, Dep’t of Modern Languages.
Faces, Places is a collaboration between Agnès Varda and photographer/performance artist, JR, many of whose images, sometimes with political echoes, have been seen publicly in different parts of the world.
″The France they travel through seems at first sight to be nothing special. They drive to backwaters, to unremarkable factories, to villages that have seen better days. Early on they visit a row of miners’ houses that has been slated for demolition and where only one tenant – Jeanine – still lives. Her refusal to budge is part of what attracts them to her but also her stories that are rich in fond, vivid details: she recalls not only the butter-baguettes her father would eat down the pit but how delighted she and her siblings would be whenever he returned home and offered them the soot-coated, half-eaten leftovers. In another section, JR and Varda meet a farmer who tells them that, where once four or five people worked the fields, now it’s just him in charge of 2,000 acres [*]. “We’ve grown antisocial,” he says. In the hands of documentarians such as Thom Andersen or Allan Sekula and Noël Burch, this would be the cue for a strident critique of anomie and alienation in modern agronomics: here, the farmer says he not only enjoys driving his hi-tech tractor but also likes operating in isolation” Sukhdev Sandhu, bfi.org.uk
[* ~ 810 hectares]
Agnes Varda – Herself
JR – Himself
Jean-Luc Godard – Himself (archive footage)
Anna Karina – Himself (archive footage)
All other characters appear as themselves
Directors – Agnes Varda, JR
Producers – Rosalie Varda, Charles Cohen and 6 others
Writers – Agnes Varda, JR
Cinematography – Roberto de Angelis, Clare Duguet & 5 others
Original Music – Matthieu Chedid
- An ‘A’ for Agnes Varda!
- A film like no other!
- Most enjoyable!
- Charming, warm and sympathetic
- Charming and engaging – a mind-trip without drugs!
- Delightful! I liked the relationship between Agnes and JR
- I cannot remember any film that made me smile as much as this one
- A wonderful range of images. Loved the idea of large posters (of people) in ambiguous places
- An excellent experience chronicling two artists on a road trip packed full of project ideas, staged shots and self-discovery. Ann Miller, complete with ‘JR shades’, provided an academic appreciation, making me want to see many more French films!
- Self-indulgent – but perhaps, at her age, Varda is allowed to be ….