Varda from 4 to 6

Agnès Varda

Students and Professor Regan with Agnès Varda

“Marie Regan, c’est Agnès Varda!” Film Studies Professor Marie Regan had just received a voicemail from reknown filmmaker Agnès Varda and was playing it back to students in her "Directors: Denis and Varda” class, gathered around her desk.  

Students were thrilled. After having watched a total of ten films by Varda, the master was inviting them to visit her in her private studio..

Regan was thrilled too: “After joining AUP in the fall, I wanted to use its small class size to take on work seriously and bring that knowledge out to meet the world – meeting Varda is a perfect example of what is possible at AUP.” Using her film connections, Regan wrote to Varda, sharing her students’ profound connection to the films and her own experience as a filmmaker newly settled in Paris. She was delighted when Varda responded by calling to invite her to bring her students to her studio. 

Agnès Varda, sometimes called the ‘mother of the New Wave’ due to her striking 1955 film La Pointe Courte that anticipates some of the French New Wave’s formal experimentation with narrative, is one of the most important filmmakers in the world today.  Younger than many of the French New Wave filmmakers, Varda, now in her 80s, has continued to make major films throughout each decade of her career, including the legendary Cleo from 5 to 7 and Vagabond and the more recent The Gleaners and I and The Beaches of Agnès.

"After joining AUP in the fall, I was ready to use its small class size to take on work seriously and bring that knowledge out to meet the world – meeting Varda is a perfect example of what is possible at AUP." - Marie Regan

 

Varda
    Posing on the rue Daguerre, home of a film the class loved, “Daguerreotypes."

A few weeks after Varda’s invitation and armed with flowers and chocolates, the class set out for Varda’s studio together. When the group arrived, they were met first by Varda’s assistant who was impressed by how many of the films the students had seen. Student Claudia Galtes recounts, “It was really cool - the film studio was bright and full of warmth. I cherish how I got to see Varda’s photography from the 70’s and see the original posters for my favorite film, Mur Murs. “  

Soon enough Varda came walking in through the door. Regan recollects, “It’s like a bolt of lightning: everyone sits up, aglow. She is tiny in person, radiant and unaffected. We gave her our gifts, and one of the students, Martin Avalaos, presented her with an orchid while singing the main song from Cleo from 5 to 7. To everyone’s joy, Varda joined in and sang along."

First year student Nico-lou Monheim Carrasquillo agreed, “The awkwardness completely vanished as she dove right into talking about her most recent exhibitions and her plans for the future. She talked about her work with a lot of enthusiasm and pride. When asking us about our future plans, she seemed genuinely intrigued and happy to hear that most of us were interested in pursuing some aspect of film." 

Varda
       Students watching Varda’s recent video work with Varda herself in her private studio

Senior Carey Amborsio concurred, “I felt honored to receive advice from Varda herself as she told me, 'You should be a producer!’ This special moment with my class and Varda will be engrained in my memory forever."

By the time the students left it had been nearly two hours, with Varda making sure each one left with a pin from her collection.  But before they did, they took a ‘selfie’.

It was a spectacular visit!” says Regan, “Not only meeting with Varda but the way she spoke of her process with them, as if they were equals, telling them about art she has seen that is inspiring her and of using her work to pursue ideas. We all walked to the subway beaming." Regan concludes, “It’s really the kind of encounter that AUP makes possible! I look forward to what will come out of future courses here!

Agnès Varda

Students and Professor Regan with Agnès Varda

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