At this year’s Academy Awards ceremony, Greta Gerwig was the only female nominee in the “Best Director” category for her film, Ladybird. Being a non-male director, it turns out, can be a lonely gig. Especially when, as was the case with prolific French director Agnes Varda, it took the academy six decades to recognize your work.
No wonder Varda, who became the oldest female Oscar nominee this year for her documentary of chance encounters, Faces Places (pictured above), was nonchalant about the nod, admitting, “I’m happy, not proud.”
Well, she might be proud to learn about TIFF’s sweeping retrospective, Radical Empathy: The Films of Agnès Varda, programmed by the female-identified editors of the Toronto feminist film journal, cléo. The screenings offer a window into the director’s “well-written” films: from the story of woman awaiting a cancer diagnosis on the lively streets of Paris (Cléo de 5 á 7) to another fortysomething divorcee, played by Jane Birkin, grappling with her attraction to a 14-year-old boy (Kung-fu Master!). Whether difficult or taboo, Varda never shies away from telling private stories – especially those about women.
Screenings on now until April 17th at TIFF Bell Lightbox.