Venturing from Venice Beach to Watts, Varda looks at the murals of Los Angeles as backdrop to and mirror of the city’s many cultures. She casts a curious eye on graffiti and photorealism, roller disco and gang violence, evangelical Christians, Hare Krishnas, artists, angels, and ordinary Angelenos. Along the meandering way, we meet the creators of some of California’s most memorable wall art, including Judy Baca, mastermind of the Great Wall of Los Angeles project along the L.A. River; Arno Jordan, painter of the ironically bucolic scenes adorning the Farmer John meatpacking plant; and Kent Twitchell, who offers a theological rationale for a depiction of the Holy Trinity starring actors from Lassie, The Lone Ranger, and Father Knows Best. The film is very Varda and very L.A.: vibrating with color and surprising juxtapositions, rich in illusion and allusion. And like the movies, the murals are both monumental and ephemeral, destined to fade, many of them now disappeared. —Pacific Film Archive
Agnès Varda has been called the “Grandmother of the New Wave,” a well-meaning if curious tribute for a woman who directed her first feature film at the age of 26. Born in Brussels, Varda studied literature and psychology at the Sorbonne, and art history at the École du Louvre. She’d originally wanted to be a museum curator, but a night-school course in photography changed her mind. Rapidly establishing herself as a top-rank still photographer, Varda became the official cameraperson for the Theatre Festival of Avignon and the Theatre National Populaire, and then pursued a career as a photojournalist.
Encouraged by filmmaker Alain Resnais, Varda made her movie directorial bow in 1955 with La Pointe Courte. She based the film on a William Faulkner short story, to which she was attracted because of its parallel plotlines (a recurring device in her later films). That same year, she accompanied another future New Wave director, Chris Marker, to China as visual advisor for his Dimanche… read more