(San Francisco and Berkeley, CA) December 12, 2019 — The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will copresent a major retrospective of films by Agnès Varda, the first significant presentation of the acclaimed director’s work since she passed away in March 2019. Agnès Varda: An Irresistible Force marks the West Coast premiere of this national touring retrospective organized with Janus Films, which encompasses much of Varda’s work from the last six decades — including new restorations, rarely screened shorts, and a preview of Varda’s final film, Varda by Agnès.
The series begins at BAMPFA on December 20 with advance screenings of Varda by Agnès, a luminous autobiographical documentary that opens theatrically in the Bay Area on January 10. SFMOMA’s portion of the series begins on January 9 with Cleo 5 to 7, one of Varda’s most renowned early works. The series continues at BAMPFA through February 28 and at SFMOMA through March 21 and includes guest appearances at both venues by former Pacific Film Archive Director and Curator Tom Luddy, who collaborated with Varda on two films. This film program represents the tenth installment of SFMOMA’s Modern Cinema program, which seeks to highlight the ongoing dialogue between the critically acclaimed filmmakers of the past and present.
An icon of international art cinema for more than sixty years, Agnès Varda (1928-2019) was an influential figure in the development of the French New Wave and the only female director associated with the movement. Her remarkable debut feature, La Pointe Courte, made when she was 26, predated and inspired the New Wave movement. Widely acclaimed for her early narrative features like Cléo from 5 to 7 and Le Bonheur, Varda went on to create a vast and eclectic body of work that included numerous shorts, documentaries, photography, and installations. Often drawing from her own life experiences, Varda’s artistic practice was deeply personal, unapologetically feminist, and wonderfully innovative—most notably in her late-career embrace of handheld digital cameras as a liberating creative tool. Varda’s penultimate film Faces Places marked one of the greatest commercial successes of her career. The film, codirected with the artist JR, whose large-scale digital mural is currently on view in SFMOMA’s Roberts Family Gallery, earned Varda her first Academy Award nomination at age 88, and was a hit with audiences of all ages. Among her many honors and awards, Varda received an Honorary Academy Award in 2017 for her contributions to cinema.
BAMPFA and SFMOMA’s copresentation of Agnès Varda: An Irresistible Force encompasses almost two dozen films by Varda, which will screen at both BAMPFA and SFMOMA with multiple repeat screenings. The series features nearly all her narrative works and documentaries, as well as an extensive selection of shorts. The retrospective highlights Varda’s films made in California, including a pair of films she made in the late 1960s in the Bay Area: Uncle Yanco, which was shot in Sausalito, and Black Panthers, filmed in Oakland. Also included in the series is a new restoration of The Young Girls of Rochefort, directed by Varda’s late husband, Jacques Demy, and shown alongside her own documentary The Young Girls Turn 25, which revisits the town of Rochefort, as well as Jacquot (shown exclusively at BAMPFA), Varda’s affectionate tribute to Demy, released shortly after his death in 1990.
“Agnès Varda was a true force of inspiration, who touched many through her poignant films. Her work responds to life in a personal and sophisticated way, reflecting her private and public role as one of France’s most celebrated directors,” said BAMPFA Senior Film Curator Susan Oxtoby. “When she visited BAMPFA in 2013, Varda captivated our audience with the same warmth and wisdom that we see throughout her magnificent body of work. We look forward to presenting in this expansive retrospective in partnership with SFMOMA, and to sharing Varda’s films with audiences across the Bay Area — a place that Varda herself visited many times and memorably rendered on film.”
“Agnès Varda’s films are an unparalleled treasure in the history of cinema, full of possibility, compassion and curiosity and they are always a wonder to experience,” said Gina Basso, SFMOMA’s manager of film programs. “SFMOMA has a long history or presenting her films and this retrospective allows us to take our audiences on a deep and reflective journey that spans her long career. I’m happy to work closely with BAMPFA to organize this meaningful tribute to one of the world’s most inspiring filmmakers.”
A full list of screenings in Agnès Varda: An Irresistible Force is available and at https://bampfa.org/program/agnes-varda-irresistible-force and https://www.sfmoma.org/event/series/modern-cinema-agnes-varda. Additional program details, including information about guest appearances, will be posted online at a later date.
All films are directed by Agnès Varda unless otherwise noted.
Varda by Agnès (France, 2019)
Friday, December 20, 7 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, December 21, 1:30 PM, BAMPFA
Thursday, December 26, 7 PM, BAMPFA
Friday, January 24, 4 PM, BAMPFA
Thursday, January 30, 7 PM, SFMOMA
Thursday, February 6, 7 PM, SFMOMA
Saturday, February 8, 3:30 PM, SFMOMA
The Gleaners and I (France, 2000)
Saturday, December 28, 5 PM, BAMPFA
Thursday, January 16, 6 PM, SFMOMA
Saturday, January 18, 1 PM, SFMOMA
Friday, February 21, 7 PM, BAMPFA
Vagabond (France, 1985)
Sunday, December 29, 4:30 PM, BAMPFA
Thursday, January 30, 7 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, February 1, 1 PM, SFMOMA
Thursday, February 27, 7 PM, SFMOMA
La Pointe Courte (France, 1955)
Thursday, January 9, 7 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, February 1, 3 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, February 15, 1 PM, SFMOMA
Saturday, February 22, 1 PM, SFMOMA
Cléo from 5 to 7 (France, 1962)
Thursday, January 9, 7 PM, SFMOMA
Saturday, January 11, 6 PM, BAMPFA
Friday, February 7, 5 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, February 29, 1 PM, SFMOMA
Faces Places (France, 2017) – codirected with JR
Thursday, January 16, 8 PM, SFMOMA
Friday, January 17, 7 PM, BAMPFA
Friday, January 31, 5 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, February 22, 3:15 PM, SFMOMA
Le Bonheur (France, 1965)
Saturday, January 18, 4 PM, BAMPFA
Friday, February 14, 5 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, February 15, 3:15 PM, SFMOMA
Saturday, February 29, 3:15 PM, SFMOMA
Shorts by Agnès Varda, Program 1: Play and Politics
Salut les cubains (France, 1964)
Uncle Yanco (US, 1967)
Black Panthers (US, 1968)
Wednesday, January 22, 3:10 PM, BAMPFA – Lecture by Tom Luddy
Saturday, February 8, 5 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, March 7, 3:30 PM, SFMOMA – Introduced by Tom Luddy
Shorts by Agnès Varda, Program 2: Places and Faces
L’opéra-Mouffe (France, 1958)
Du côté de la côte (France, 1958)
La réponse de femmes (France, 1975)
Plaisir d’amour en Iran (Iran, 1976)
Ulysse (France, 1983)
Les dites cariatides (France, 1984)
Sunday, January 26, 1:30 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, March 7, 1 PM, SFMOMA
Daguerréotypes (France, 1975)
Sunday, February 2, 5 PM, BAMPFA
Thursday, March 5, 7 PM, SFMOMA
The Young Girls of Rochefort (France, 1967) – directed by Jacques Demy
Saturday, February 15, 1 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, March 14, 1 PM, SFMOMA
The Young Girl Turns 25 (France, 1993)
Saturday, February 15, 3:30 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, March 14, 3:45 PM, SFMOMA
Mur Murs (US, 1980)
Saturday, January 18, 3:15 PM, SFMOMA
Sunday, February 16, 5 PM, BAMPFA
Lions Love (. . . and Lies) (US, 1969)
Thursday, February 20, 7 PM, BAMPFA
Thursday, March 12, 7 PM, SFMOMA
Jacquot (France, 1991)
Saturday, February 22, 3 PM, BAMPFA
Jane B Par Agnès V (France, 1988)
Saturday, February 1, 3:45 PM, SFMOMA
One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (France, Belgium, Venezuela, 1977)
Saturday, February 8, 1 PM, SFMOMA
Sunday, February 23, 4:30 PM, BAMPFA
The Beaches of Agnès (France, 2008)
Friday, February 28, 7 PM, BAMPFA
Saturday, March 21, 2 PM, SFMOMA — preceded by Elsa La Rose (France, 1966)
Agnès Varda: An Irresistible Force is copresented by BAMPFA and SFMOMA. The retrospective is organized by BAMPFA Senior Film Curator Susan Oxtoby and SFMOMA Manager of Film Programs Gina Basso. Our thanks to Rosalie Varda and Cecilia Rose, Ciné-Tamaris; Mathieu Demy; Emily Woodburne, Brian Belovarac, and Ben Crossley-Marra, Janus Films; Juliette Donadieu, Consulate General of France, San Francisco.
BAMPFA Film Series Sponsor: The Simpson PSB Fund.
Modern Cinema’s Founding Supporters are Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein. Support is provided by Nion McEvoy and the Susan Wildberg Morgenstein Fund.
SFMOMA Member tickets are $5.
General public tickets for SFMOMA screenings are $12 and will be available online, or onsite at SFMOMA during regular business hours. Modern Cinema tickets do not include admission to SFMOMA galleries. Ticket-holders for Modern Cinema should enter through the museum’s Joyce and Larry Stupski Entrance on Minna Street (between Third and New Montgomery Streets). For up-to-date program information and tickets, visit sfmoma.org/modern-cinema.
Tickets for BAMPFA screenings are $13 for general admission; $9 for UC Berkeley faculty & staff, non-UC Berkeley students, disabled, 65+, 18 & under; $8 for BAMPFA members; $5 for UC Berkeley students, and $5 for additional same-day features. A full list of programs can be found on bampfa.org.
An internationally recognized arts institution with deep roots in the Bay Area, the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) is a forum for cultural experiences that transform individuals and advance the local, national, and global discourse on art and film. BAMPFA is UC Berkeley’s premier visual arts venue, presenting more than 450 film screenings, scores of public programs, and more than twenty exhibitions annually. With its vibrant and eclectic programming, BAMPFA inspires the imagination and ignites critical dialogue through art, film, and other forms of creative expression.
The institution’s collection of more than 28,000 works of art dates from 3000 BCE to the present day and includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and Conceptual art. BAMPFA’s collection also includes more than 17,500 films and videos, including the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, impressive holdings of Soviet cinema, West Coast avant-garde film, and seminal video art, as well as hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film.
As part of the opening of the new and expanded SFMOMA in May 2016, the Phyllis Wattis Theater also received a major renovation and system update creating one of the most enjoyable places to see film in the Bay Area. A new, state-of-the-art NEC digital projector offers Modern Cinema the ability to present films on a 24 x 12-foot screen with the capacity to show aspect ratios of 1:37, 1:66, 1:85 and 2:39. The Wattis Theater can also screen films via new Kinoton projectors in 16 and 35mm formats. Because sound is integral to the cinematic experience, a new Meyer Sound Cinema Surround System enhances the nuance and precision intended by the filmmaker. Comfortable new seating with cup holders round out the Wattis Theater experience.
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SFMOMA is dedicated to making the art of our time a vital and meaningful part of public life. Founded in 1935 as the first West Coast museum devoted to modern and contemporary art, a thoroughly transformed SFMOMA, with triple the gallery space, an enhanced education center and new free public galleries, opened to the public on May 14, 2016. Since its inaugural year, the expanded museum has welcomed more than one million visitors annually.