Disappeared in 2019, celebrated until January 2024, at the Cinémathèque de Paris with an exhibition entitled Viva Varda, Agnès Varda is today recognized as a pioneer of the New Wave. She was also one of the first to defend the place of women on sets then almost exclusively reserved for men.

She did not imagine this posterity when, in 1971, she returned to Sète where she spent her adolescence, on a boat moored at the port. In a sequence, which Madelen invites you to discover or rediscover, she evokes her vision of the 7th art, that of a “souvenir cinema”, with themes that are sometimes very difficult to treat, of course, but authentic and inspired by the air of his time. She cites her first film, La pointe courte, with Philippe Noiret and Sylvia Montfort, made in Sète in 1954.

Read the fileAgnès Varda, half a century of cinema is passing away

Four years before Truffaut, Godard and a few others, thanks to “cooperative financing”, she shot “cheap and fast” images greeted by rave reviews: “a film, free, pure and miraculous”… “The first sound bell of an immense carillon”…. “a new breath of freedom”. She thus locked herself in what she called an “intellectual ghetto”, and then spent seven years finding financing for her second feature film Cléo de 5 à 7.

In 1971, she lamented that a popular audience had not had access to films, which, she admitted, might have disoriented them. She will thus lead a long career with ups and downs, successes, starting with Sans roof ni Loi in 1985, failures, unfinished screenplays, poorly financed documentaries and short films made, for lack of more ambitious means. There have also been documentaries, such as Black Panthers, filmed in 1968 in the United States. She then crossed paths with Jim Morrison, the singer of The Doors, then at the height of his fame. His bond became so strong that she was one of the few guests at his funeral, after his death in 1971, in the nightclub Le Bus Palladium.

Also a feminist before her time, she made, in her time, comments considered more moderate than those made by some of her colleagues, starting with Delphine Seyrig or Coline Serreau. Refusing “blabla”, recognizing a natural difference between men and women, she never stopped defending a form of social equality between the two different sexes, and did not fail to rejoice when one Wednesday This morning, she discovered that six new films showing had been directed by women.

His private life reflected his refusal of the traditional frameworks of society. At the beginning of the 1950s, while a photographer at the Avignon Festival and the TNP, directed by Jean Vilar, she met Antoine Bourseiller and, some time later, became the mother of a daughter named Rosalie. This love story ends and, overnight, she leaves her marital home, deciding to raise her baby alone. Jacques Demy then enters his life. When Mathieu, their son, comes into the world, the director of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort chooses to officially adopt Rosalie. The couple will eventually separate, but the mutual admiration will remain. “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is one of the most beautiful films in the world,” she confided after the filmmaker’s death. Proof of another form of love, that of cinema.