Price: $195.00

    Code: 2351

    Directed by Agnès Varda
    2008, 100 Minutes
    Purchase: $195 | Classroom Rental: $85

    A reflection on art, life and the movies, The Beaches of Agnès is a magnificent film from the great Agnès Varda, director of Cleo from 5 to 7 and The Gleaners and I, a richly cinematic self portrait that touches on everything from the feminist movement and the Black Panthers to the films of husband Jacques Demy and the birth of the French New Wave.

    When one thinks of the major figures of postwar cinema, the name Agnès Varda immediately springs to mind. Her body of work in both fiction and documentary is defined by a wealth of innovation and imagination. Irrepressible and enquiring, she is a force of nature, and even at eighty shows no signs of slowing down. Her new film is a reminder that there are few artists capable of such eloquence in cinema.

    Varda takes beaches as her point of departure. Though she was not born near the ocean, she would travel to the seaside every Easter and summer during her childhood, and her memories of these trips act as a springboard for the film's meditation on her early life. She recalls her wartime exile to the coastal village of Sète as a period of endless fun and life jackets. While a young adult, Varda began her career as a photographer before raising a family with her husband, Jacques Demy (best known for The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) and eventually turning to filmmaking. Returning to Sète over a decade after the end of the war, she used the locale and its fishermen as the backdrop for her remarkable first feature film, La Pointe Courte.

    Varda weaves photographs, vintage footage, film clips, and present-day sequences into a memorable voyage through her life, during which she confronts the joy of creation and the pain of personal loss, death and aging. It is a singular trip played out against the exciting context of the postwar explosion of cultural expression in France. She knew everyone: her colleagues in the French New Wave, the Black Panthers in California and even Jim Morrison, who would visit when in Paris. Idiosyncratic, engaging and deeply moving, The Beaches of Agnès is a journey through an extraordinary artistic life.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Best Documentary, Cesar Awards, 2009
    * Winner, Best Film, French Critics Union, 2009
    * Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival, 2008
    * Official Selection, Venice Film Festival, 2008


    Four Stars! “A great, loving, uplifting film.”
    – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

    “Glorious... A remarkable history, rich in comedy and occasionally heartbreaking, filled with wise reflections and strange digressions about the wonders of life.”
    – Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

    “A work of art in its own right, one of her best—a poignant, rapturously emotional tribute to life itself.”
    – Richard Brody, The New Yorker

    “Exhilarating. A lively, visually stunning autobiographical essay… Will no doubt enchant newcomers to her work just as thoroughly as it will captivate her longtime fans. The Beaches of Agnès might be the best film yet from a director who for half a century has managed to inspire, astonish and endure.”
    – Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

    “Extraordinary. Breathtaking. It's difficult not to leave the theater giddy at being swept up in Ms. Vardas’ embrace.”
    – Betsy Sharkey, LA Times

    “An artist of undiminished vigor, curiosity and intelligence.”
    – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

    “A masterpiece.”
    – Stuart Klawans, The Nation

    “Wonderful. It's tempting to say that she's the most distinguished living woman filmmaker. But that would be to insult her with faint praise. She's one of the most distinguished filmmakers, period.”
    – John Powers, NPR

    “Exciting and inspirational. The sort of documentary that inspires you to pursue art, love and friendship while looking forward to senior citizenship with anticipation.”
    – Alonso Duralde, MSNBC

    “A cinematic reverie. One job of memoir is to show the world through another’s eyes and inspire you to live more alertly, and that is the glory of The Beaches of Agnès.”
    – David Edelstein, New York Magazine

    “Inescapably moving. It is quite possible that Varda will be as happily remembered for this fantasia about her career as for what she did in it.”
    – Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic

    “A masterpiece. In her winsome, haunting self-portrait, The Beaches of Agnès, Agnès Varda has retained all the vitality, humor, and sheer cinematic inventiveness that has marked her films since 1954's seminal La Pointe Courte.”
    – Liza Bear, Interview Magazine

    “Grade: A. In The Beaches of Agnès, you get addicted to watching Agnès Varda watch the world.”
    – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

    “An enchanting ciné-memoir that leads us back through the winding course of the octogenarian director’s life and long career. A crucial and often poignant reminder of the director’s indelible presence within the postwar French cinema.”
    – Haden Guest, Film Comment

    “A terrific movie! One of a kind.”
    – Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor

    “Fascinating. A treat to anyone who already cherishes Varda’s films and a perfect primer for those who haven’t yet discovered her work.”
    – Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

    “A bonafide masterpiece.”
    – Jerome Rudes, MovieMaker Magazine

    Four Stars! “Enchanting. A vivid story of a life well-lived.”
    – Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times

    Four Stars! “Captivating. One need not be familiar with Varda's masterful photographs or landmark movies to be enchanted.”
    – Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

    "Even students unfamiliar with her work before Beaches will appreciate the wit, striking compositions, and intricate editing of the only female filmmaker from the French New Wave. Beaches also demonstrates Varda's ability to use images to capture a range of gendered relationships, from her relationship to men, to her role as daughter, sister, girlfriend, pregnant woman, parent, feminist activist, wife, grandmother, and widow. The film offers a female visual artist's fragmented self-portrait and chronicles her multi-layered memories while spanning the events of her lifetime". - Films for the Feminist Classroom