August 1954, Sète (South of France). In the bright summer light, Silvia Monfort and Philippe Noiret experiment with their fragile love, surrounded by struggling fishermen, bustling women, children at play and roaming cats. Natural settings, lightweight camera, low budget: with “La Pointe Courte” (presented at Cannes in a movie theater on the rue d’Antibes in 1955), the photographer from Jean Vilar’s Théâtre National Populaire is paving the way for the next generation of filmmakers, of which Agnès Varda, recently departed, will remain the only female member.
READ SAIDEH PAKRAVAN’S OBIT
Like a manifesto, this photo from the set, which is now the 2019 Festival’s official poster, sums up everything about Varda: her passion, chutzpah and her mischievousness, all the ingredients of a free artist, forming a recipe that she never stopped improving upon. Her sixty-five years of creativity and experimenting almost match the length that the Cannes Festival has been around.
As she liked to point out, Varda is not a woman-filmmaker: Agnès Varda is a filmmaker. She often attended the Cannes Festival to present her films. Thirteen of her films ran in the the Official Selection. She was also a Jury member in 2005 as well as President of the Caméra d’or Jury in 2013. When she received the Honorary Palme d’or, in 2015, she claimed “resilience and endurance, more than honor,” and dedicated it “to all the brave and inventive filmmakers, those who create original cinema, whether it’s fiction or documentary, who are not in the limelight but who carry on.”
Avant-garde but popular all at the same time, intimate yet universally-loved, her films have led the way. And so, perched high atop this pyramid, surveying the Cannes beach, young and eternal, Agnès Varda will be the doyenne of this seventy-second Cannes Festival.