Das dritte Leben der Agnès Varda – Film series

Film series at Kino Arsenal

The Arsenal cinema is showing a selection of Varda’s films whose motifs also appear in the exhibition and which reveal different connections across her entire oeuvre. It becomes clear that her exploration of photography, film, art and installation forms didn’t follow each other chronologically, but rather that Varda’s way of thinking and creating referenced other art forms from the very beginning. Her films repeatedly demonstrate a tendency to arrange and to exhibit. Vardas’s oeuvre consists of passages between the arts, between still images and moving ones, between life and death.

Program at Kino Arsenal

Saturday, June 11, 8 pm + Friday, July 8, 7 pm

LES GLANEURS ET LA GLANEUSE / The Gleaners and I   Agnès Varda   F 2000   OV with German ST 82‘
Varda used a small digital camera for the first time to film this documentary essay about collecting (and reusing). Taking François Millet’s famous painting The Gleaners as her starting point, she follows the tradition of picking up what has been left behind. She comes across people living in precarious circumstances, making ends meet with what is left over, and collecting the remains of our wasteful, throwaway consumerist society in fields, scrapyards, and weekly markets. In addition, Varda makes culture historical connections, addresses the theme of transience, and also sets her sights on how she is aging as well as her filmmaking, which she also grasps as a form of collecting. One of the numerous things she finds in the film are heart-shaped potatoes—they turn up again in Varda’s video installation Patatutopia.

Introduction: Birgit Kohler (in German language)

Sunday, June 12, 7.30 pm + Sunday, July 17, 7.30 pm

LES PLAGES D’AGNÈS   The Beaches of Agnès   Agnès Varda   F 2008   OV with German ST (12.6.) / OV with Engl. ST (17.7.) 110‘
In this autobiographical essay film, Agnès Varda sets off on an associative journey through her life and work, literally walking backwards along the way. She allows herself to be led by her memories, which are as restless as flies, however. One thread running through the film are the beaches that left a mark on her life: her childhood on the Belgian coast, her adolescence in Sète in southern France, Venice Beach in Los Angeles, where she lived with her husband Jacques Demy, and finally the Atlantic island of Noirmoutier, the family’s holiday home. Varda plays herself as “a little old lady” and appears in the middle of clips from her films. She repeatedly holds up photos in front of the camera, shows parts of her installations, and engages with ideas of aging and the representability of memories. “A film that self-presents as a “series of installations’” (Raymond Bellour)

12.6.: Introduction: Kathrin Peters (in German language)
17.7.: Introduction: Julia Fabry (in English language)

Monday, June 13, 8 pm + Saturday, June 18, 8 pm

SANS TOIT NI LOI / Vagabond   Agnès Varda   F/GB 1985   OV with Engl. ST 105’
Narrated in fragmentary fashion and inspired by a newspaper article, this film begins by showing how it will end: with the frozen corpse of a young woman in a ditch, somewhere in southern France; the cold is photographed in such a way that you can almost feel it. Flashbacks then follow the traces left behind by the down-and-out Mona (Sandrine Bonnaire), as the film attempts to reconstruct the last weeks of her life based on the testimonies of those who crossed her path. But creating a portrait of Mona is impossible: the brusque vagabond has turned her back on society in radical fashion to live in absolute freedom, without money, without a roof over her head, without compromise. She wants neither contact nor help, gives no explanations, rejects everyone and everything. All she does is keep going, without a destination, until she doesn’t.

L’OPÉRA-MOUFFE   Agnès Varda   F 1958   OV with Engl. ST 17‘
The margins of society, down-and-outs living on the street, and other eccentric existences also form the focus of Varda’s subjective documentary L’OPÉRA-MOUFFE. Structured by intertitles, without dialogue, with songs in voiceover, and music by Georges Delerue, she shows the market in Rue Mouffetard in Paris from the point of view of a pregnant woman, who is she herself. She combines her observations with staged love scenes and the projections and fears of a pregnant woman. Little separates sadness and cheerfulness, misfortune and paradise here.

Wednesday, June 15, 8 pm + Friday, July 8, 9 pm

DEUX ANS APRÉS / Zwei Jahre danach   Agnès Varda   F 2002   OV with Engl. ST 64‘
A P.F. (Post filmum), that gives an account of what happened following the release of LES GLANEURS ET LA GLANEUSE. The huge flood of reactions— prizes, letters, presents — led to encounters with new collectors inspired by the film and fresh visits to several of the protagonists: the voluntary teacher has gained a degree of fame after appearing on TV, another collector has been in a psychiatric clinic. The painting “Les glaneuses fuyant l’orage” was restored in the meantime and made available to the public again, while Agnès Varda has dyed her roots.

Friday, June 17, 7 pm + Wednesday, June 29, 7.30 pm

Shortfilm program 1
The program collects two films made up of and about photos.

SALUT LES CUBAINS   Agnès Varda   F/Cuba 1963   OV with Engl. ST 30‘
The Cuba crisis had just been resolved when Agnès Varda travelled to Cuba with her  Leica. Back in Paris, she edited together and animated the 1500 black-and-white photos she took there to create an exuberant travelogue with music and a commentary by Michel Piccoli and herself. This lively photo montage, a nimble bow to and expression of solidarity for the revolution with cigars, beards, candy floss, Fidel and his speeches, musicians, militiamen, women and socialism, ends with a cha-cha-cha that also gets the photos dancing.

ULYSSE   Agnès Varda   F 1982   OV with Engl. ST 22’
A 1954 photograph by Agnès Varda shows a dead goat, a child and a naked man seen from behind. 28 years later, she returns to the photo, studies it in detail, sets out in search of the two people that it shows, and reflects in the process about memory, the nature of photography, and the passing of time.

17.6.: Introduction: Winfried Pauleit (in German language)

Wednesday, June 22, 8 pm + Monday, July 4, 8 pm

Shortfilm program 2
The program shows films that were produced in reaction to an exhibition.

7 P., CUIS., S. DE B... À SAISIR   Agnès Varda   F 1984   OV with Engl. ST 27‘
Varda shot this short essay on the site of an exhibition entitled Le vivant et l’artificiel, which took place at the St. Louis hospice in Avignon in 1984 and included anatomical models made of wax and plaster skulls. It tells the eventful story of an old house full of memories now up for sale and the doctor’s family that lives in it—as Agnès Varda imagines it. From time to time, the images recall surrealist poetry, from the turkey on the kitchen cooker with grass growing on it to the bathroom decked out in white flowers with a naked old woman sitting in it.

YDESSA, LES OURS ET ETC…   Agnès Varda   F 2004   OV with Engl. ST 44’
Partners (The Teddy Bear Project) was the title of an exhibition at the Haus der Kunst in Munich at the end of 2003 that presented 1500 photos that all have one thing in common: there is a teddy bear in each photo– together with children, a whole family, naked women, sportspeople or soldiers—compiled by Canadian collector, curator, and artist Ydessa Hendeles. She was inspired by a photograph of her cousin Szlamus Zweigel, who was murdered in Auschwitz as a child. Varda asks Hendeles in Toronto about her motives and numerous people visiting the exhibition for their impressions.

Friday, June 24, 8 pm + Wednesday, July 6, 8 pm

QUELQUES VEUVES DE NOIRMOUTIER   Some Widows of Noirmoutier   Agnès Varda   F 2006   OV with German ST 69‘
Agnès Varda had herself been a widow for 14 years when she turned her attention to the widows of the Atlantic island of Noirmoutier, where she spent a lot of time with her deceased husband, filmmaker Jacques Demy, and their family. She dedicated both an installation and this film to these women, which is based on material shot for the installation. In long conversations, the women give an account of how they live with loss and pain, of grief, loneliness, and mixed feelings. Varda portrays herself as a silent widow.

24.6.: Introduction: Dominique Bluher (in German language)

Sunday, June 26, 8 pm + Thursday, July 14, 8 pm

JACQUOT DE NANTES   Agnès  Varda   F 2018   OV with Engl. ST 118‘
Varda’s declaration of love to her dying husband, filmmaker Jacques Demy, and a tribute to his cinema. She films Demy’s memories of his childhood and adolescence in Nantes from 1939-1949, reconstructs family scenes at the real locations where they happened, fades in excerpts of his films and from time to time shifts from black and white to color. The chronicle of a happy childhood spent in his father’s car repair shop emerges, with Punch and Judy shows, song, an early passion for cinema, and self-taught attempts at filmmaking. Intimate images of Demy on the beach marked by illness speak tenderly of transience and farewell. Many years later, Varda turned her attention again to the time of the Second World War and returns to the form of evocation by way of blending documentary and fiction that she created for JACQUOT DE NANTES for her installation Hommage aux Justes de France.

Saturday, June 11 ­­– Thursday, July 14
Kino Arsenal, Potsdamer Platz