SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain – The French New Wave icon, Agnès Varda, who began her directing career in the 1950s, was in attendance at the San Sebastian International Film Festival on Sunday to receive the honorific Donostia award and present her new film, “Faces Places.”
“Faces Places” (“Visages Villages”) is a documentary road movie that stars co-directors Varda and French street artist JR as they travel through rural France armed with a portable camera studio capable of printing giant portraits those they meet along the way.
Speaking to EFE at the 65th edition of the SSIFF, Varda, 88, humorously said that people used to call here the grandmother of French New Wave cinema, but now they call her the dinosaur of French New Wave.
Yet, despite the difference in age with her “Faces Places” co-star JR, who is 34, the two strike up a great on-screen chemistry as the tour the nation photographing and telling the stories of ordinary by mounting the giant portraits onto buildings.
Varda, famed for such works as “Cléo from 5 to 7” (1962) and “Vagabond” (1985), said that the idea for her new film was to give value to people who don’t have power by listening to them and also by taking gigantic photographs.
The spirit of “Faces Places” is an undeniable nod to her 1976 work “Daguerrotypes,” a documentary film that depicted the lives of street merchants in the Parisian street on which she lived.
A pioneer of feminist cinema, Belgian-born Varda is to receive the Donostia award at the SSIFF later on Sunday and is set to be awarded the honorary Oscar in the coming year, too.
However, Varda insisted that there was little direct relation between awards and commercial success, adding that although she was well known for her work in cinema, she still found it hard to secure funding for her films.
Varda is the last female New Wave director to remain active.
The film festival in San Sebastian, located in the Basque region of Spain, runs until Sept. 30.