DEFINITION June 2019

FEATURE | WOMEN I N C I NEMATOGRAPHY

WOMEN ARE RISING THROUGH THE RANKS IN FILM PRODUCTION – AND HAVE BEEN FOR SOME TIME. MEET THE FEMALE FILMMAKERS, CINEMATOGRAPHERS AND DIRECTORS WHO HAVE INSPIRED ME, GIVEN ME DIRECTION AND SHOWN ME THE WAY IN THE FILM WORLD I HAVE KNOWN AND LOVED

WORDS MADELYN MOST

Varda had just returned from the Berlinale film festival in February, where she was awarded the Berlinale Camera award, the last in a long line of awards including an honorary Oscar, an honorary Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and an honorary César from the French film academy. Quirky, defiant, politically outspoken, fiercely independent and curious about everything, Varda broke the rules with her experimental, optimistic documentaries and her uniquely personal storytelling. She led the way for other rule-breaking women to enter a male-dominated industry. (At this year’s Cannes Film Festival, four of the 19 directors competing for the Palme d’Or are female – a record, but one that could still be improved upon.) Meet a few of my favourite women shaking up the film industry...

As a young student in Paris, I binged on films at the Cinémathèque at Trocadero, where the Nouvelle Vague movement of the sixties impacted the screens, and the outspoken militant voice of its only female member, Agnès Varda (pictured right) – prolific photographer, writer, cinematographer, director, fine artist and painter – came to my attention. Internationally recognised as one of the great pillars of documentary and fiction filmmaking, the news of her sudden and unexpected passing on 29 March at the age of 90 shocked the world. Belgian-born Arlette Varda (Arles, for the home of photography, changed to Agnès for her Greek father) was still working in 2017, with her most recent documentary, Visages Villages (Faces Places), a hit with young audiences.

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