Apparently not even achieving legendary status has shielded Agnes Varda from a common problem afflicting women directors.
“I have an entire bestiary of prizes with bears, dogs, etc., but people still don’t give me funding,” admitted the honorary Palme d’Or winner at a Kering-sponsored talk at this year’s Cannes. “As fishermen say, ‘A little less thanks, and a little more money!” she said.
Reflecting on her extraordinary career, Varda attributed her accomplishments to working in the margins. “Because I was not assimilated into the film family,” she said, “I just placed myself outside of the problem. My main concern was to make innovative films…. Being on the margins allows one to avoid the problem [of discrimination]. As Jean-Luc Godard said, ‘The margin is what holds together the pages of a notebook.’”
Varda also noted that, despite her open feminism, she resisted the “feminist filmmaker” label, which could be seen as reductive, especially when she began her directing career.
“My aim was not to make a woman’s film but rather to create a contemporary film. Picasso, Modigliani… had changed the arts. I was a photographer and I wanted to change filmmaking,” she explained.
Varda then listed a handful of international female filmmakers she believes to be important voices in today’s film world — Isild LeBesco, Naomi Kawase, Lucretia Martel, Claire Denis, Jane Campion, Miranda July and Emmanuelle Bercot — adding that Lena Dunham’s “Girls” is “made by a woman in her own way and… shakes up archetypes.”