Agnès Varda & JR: Faces Places

The title in French is Visages Villages – more precise than the English one, as it is mostly villages the two artists visit to meet locals, take their photos, make them grand format, large scale and paste them on big walls. The name of the mobile photo booth of JR is Inside Out Project – a project it is, that the two perform and the result is the creation of a charming and warm meeting between the two of them – she 88 and he 33 – who travel to make homage to people they meet, and to places that are abandoned in the French countryside.

There is the touching sequence from the former mining town, where only one woman lives. Varda and JR put photos from the good mining times on the walls, of miners, and of the lonely woman, who is touched to see herself in that scale.

Each photo tells a story, says Varda, who as a true documentarian declares in the beginning of the film in her home/studio in Rue Daguerre in Paris that ”chance has always been my best assistant”, so let’s go. And they do and invite the audience to meet farmers, goats with and without horns, lots of cats, she is a cat lover Varda, dockworkers and their wives, a postman who is no longer coming by bike and many others.

But the film also turns its perspective towards Varda, who remembers, goes to the tiny graveyard where Henri Cartier-Bresson is buried, to Normandy where she took photos of the photographer Guy Bourdin, we are with her to the eye doctor, which is no problem for her – cut to Bunuel and his ”Un Chien Andalou” – and she wants to honour Jean-Luc Godard and make JR take off his dark glasses as she made Godard do in a short film from 1961.

This review is written with a smile on the face, I have just seen a playful essayistic documentary by a master, masterly co-directed by JR, who as Varda says is very good with old people – together they go to his grandmother, who is over 100 years old.

France, 2017, 89 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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