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Agnes Varda, Still Making Waves

Thompson on Hollywood By Carrie Rickey | Thompson on Hollywood March 15, 2013 at 12:20PM

Agnes Varda, irrepressible octogenarian -- “say I’ll be 85 in May” -- and filmmaker whose 1954 feature debut, "La Pointe-Courte," precipitated New Wave cinema, is artist-in-residence at the University of Pennsylvania this week, dispensing wisdom, teaching master classes and sharing some of her 33 films, including her 2009 cine-memoir, "The Beaches of Agnes."
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Agnes Varda, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Film Awards
Agnes Varda, recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the European Film Awards

Agnes Varda, irrepressible octogenarian -- “say I’ll be 85 in May” -- and filmmaker whose 1954 feature debut, "La Pointe-Courte," precipitated New Wave cinema, is artist-in-residence at the University of Pennsylvania this week, dispensing wisdom,  teaching master classes and sharing some of her 33 films, including her 2009 cine-memoir, "The Beaches of Agnes."

Here’s what she had to say about her career when I had a sit-down with her earlier in the week. It occurred to me that she is among the oldest filmmakers currently active (Alain Resnais, who was the editor of "La Pointe-Court" is a few years older, and the indefatigable Manoel de Oliveira is 100-plus years) although her vitality and vivacity is that of someone a fraction of her years.

I just listened to her teach a master class at Scribe Video Center where my favorite question came from an aspiring documentarian who asked, “It always seems that you’re teaching your subject. How do you achieve that effect?” Varda shrugged and answered, “Possibly it’s the handheld camera?”

Read the rest of this article, and discuss your favorite Varda films, here.

This article is related to: Features, Agnès Varda, Agnès Varda


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.