Saturday, July 4, 2009
I’m fortunate to live close to the Aero Theater, which hosts The American Cinematheque and screens classic films each night. I saw The Beaches of Agnes, an autobiographical film by French filmmaker Agnes Varda, in which she contemplates her life, her family and her years as an artist. The 81 year old was in attendance, bubbly and full of humor, she took questions after the screening.
Her voice is heard as the film begins, “If you opened people up, you would find landscapes; if you opened me up you would find beaches.” She weaves her stories, from mending fishing nets in a village to photographing revolutionaries in Cuba and China, giving much credit to serendipity. She mentions her films, which date back to 1954, but I was taken by her natural exuberance and her fascination with the world around her. We see her at flea markets, boating alone on the Seine, dressed as a potato for an installation, interviewing a collector of toy trains, and counting colorful brooms at her own birthday party. She said that she made her first film before she had seen the films of any great directors, adding that it would surely have stopped her in her tracks. She also said, “Rewrite the stories you tell yourself about what’s possible.”
I raise my glass this week to Agnes.