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Agnès Varda, Pioneer of the French New Wave, Dead at 90

Agnès Varda. Photo: Piero Guerrini/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Agnès Varda, the Belgian-born director who earned the nickname “grandmother of the French New Wave,” died today at 90. Varda was a prolific filmmaker, an avowed feminist, and the rare woman to appear regularly among the ranks of men at prestigious film festivals throughout her career. Her work spans from 1955’s La Pointe Courte and 1962’s radical Cleo From to 7 up to 2000’s The Gleaners and I and 2017’s Faces Places, a road-trip documentary with the artist JR that earned Varda her first Academy Award nomination. The nomination made her the oldest competitive nominee in the ceremony’s history, and she also received an honorary Oscar for her work a few months before. Varda’s work was also lauded in Europe. Her 1985 film Vagabond won the Gold Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and she made regular appearances at Cannes, earning an honorary Palme d’Or in 2015. Last month, she received a Berlinale Camera award for lifetime achievement.

Varda, with her distinctive red-and-white bob, made the rounds both in person and in cardboard form for the press campaign for Faces Places, often repeating that she didn’t care too much about the awards themselves. “I have a lot of awards. I don’t know if it’s compensation — the money was not there,” she told Vulture. “But awards? I have a full closet.” But she very much enjoyed connecting with other people over art. “We want love from the audience,” Varda said of having to advertise her movies. “We don’t want the box office.”

Agnès Varda, Pioneer of the French New Wave, Dead at 90