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Gleaning Truths:

The Beaches of Agnès

(Les plages d'Agnès)

Dir: Agnès Varda, 2008, France, 113 mins, Cert 18

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Sun 9 September // 16:00

Tickets: £5 (full) / £4 (concession) / £8/7 (double bill)

Beaches have always been important to Agnès Varda, as she would travel to the seaside every Easter and summer throughout her childhood. During the Second World War, she was exiled in the coastal town of Sète, a period she recalls with fondness as a time of endless fun. Returning to Sète in the late 50s, she would use the locale and the local fishermen as the backdrop for her remarkable feature début La Pointe Courte. Varda returns once more to the beaches, using her early memories of the coast as a springboard for the film’s meditation on her youth. Weaving photography, archive footage, scenes from her own films and present-day sequences, Varda takes us on a memorable voyage through her life, during which she confronts the joy of creation and the pain of personal loss, death and ageing. It is a singular trip played out against the stirring backdrop of the post-war explosion of cultural expression in France. She knew everyone: the French New Wave set (she was married to Jacques Demy), the Black Panthers and even Jim Morrison, who would visit Agnès when he was in Paris. Idiosyncratic, engaging and deeply moving, The Beaches of Agnès is the autobiography of a magnificent artist and a woman of vital curiosity.

“The tool of every self-portrait is the mirror. You see yourself in it. Turn it the other way, and you see the world”
Agnès Varda


Revered for her bold political and autobiographically inspired work, Agnès Varda is a seminal feminist filmmaker and matriarch of the French New Wave. Her influential career began in the 1950s with La Pointe Courte – often considered the unofficial first film of the New Wave – and continues seven decades later, as in 2017 she became the first female director to be awarded an honorary Oscar. To celebrate the release of Agnès Varda’s new film Faces Places (which will be coming to our screen in October), we will be screening a selection of her work.