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Legendary French film director Agnès Varda dies at the age of 90

Legendary French film director Agnès Varda dies at the age of 90
By Philip PangalosAFP
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Legendary French film director and artist Agnès Varda, who won an honorary Palme d'Or in 2015 and an honorary Oscar last year, has died at the age of 90


The legendary French film director, photographer and artist Agnès Varda, who emerged in the New Wave of intimate cinema of the 1960s and continued with artful documentaries and films mixing real-life events with fiction, has died at the age of 90, her family told the French news agency.

"The director and artist Agnès Varda has passed away at home during the night of Thursday of complications with cancer. She was surrounded by her family and friends," an announcement said.

A close contemporary of cinema legends such as Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard, Varda won an honorary Oscar in 2017 and the Berlin Film Festival’s Berlinale Camera lifetime achievement award only last month.

Born on May 30, 1928, Varda often used her own life as the framework for her work, which brought her an honorary Palme d'Or at the Cannes film festival in 2015 - the first female to win the coveted award.

Her films focused on the issues faced by ordinary people, such as harvesters (The Gleaners and I, 2000), drifters (Vagabond, 1985) and on women in particular (Cleo from 5 to 7, 1962).

She worked right up to the end of her life, with a new autobiographical documentary premiering at the Berlin film festival just last month.

She won an honorary Oscar last November at 89 for her documentary "Faces Places", which saw her ditch her walking stick for an impromptu celebratory dance with Hollywood star Angelina Jolie.

She won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival and a host of other awards for her 1985 film "Vagabond", which retraced the life of a homeless woman who was found frozen to death in a ditch.

Born in Belgium in 1928 to a French mother and Greek father whose family had fled Turkey, Varda changed her first name from Arlette to Agnes when she turned 18 and began her career as a photographer.

Varda and her late husband, director Jacques Demy, were one of the New Wave's great double acts, with her often recording life on set and pitching in on his masterpieces like "The Young Girls of Rochefort", "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg" and "Bay of Angels".  

Her work often crossed over between cinema and art and her own personal story, like her documentary "Uncle Yanco" (1967) about San Francisco hippie artist Jean Varda -- a relative of hers.

But some of her most poignant work focused on the three decades she spent with Demy until his untimely death in 1990 - "Jacquot de Nantes" (Jacky from Nantes), "The Beaches of Agnes" and "The World of Jacques Demy".

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