This is a portrait of the painter Jean Varda, my uncle. In the aquatic suburbs of San Francisco, intellectual heart and center of the bohemian, he navigates with a sail and paints celestial and Byzantine cities because he is Greek. Nevertheless, he is involved in young American movements; hippies and drop outs come to see him in his house-boat. How I discovered my American uncle and how marvelous is the man: that’s what I show in this colorful short. —Agnès Varda
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
At the intersection of cinematic montage and reality, Agnes observes a comparable thought process and artistic expression in her family. Not only does Uncle Jean create a juxtaposition-patchwork of materials and colors, he crafts a community that is just as motley and eclectic. Environments and expressions are not just the products of Vardas, but the Vardas are interestingly expressions of their products.