Agnès Varda’s New Documentary Will Premiere in Berlin

On Film / The Daily — Jan 10, 2019
Agnès Varda at work on Cléo from 5 to 7 (1962)

Over the course of a filmmaking career spanning six decades, Agnès Varda has often drawn on her own life in both her narrative and documentary features. She’s cast close friends and family, made three films about her husband Jacques Demy, and gone full-blown autobiographical in The Beaches of Agnès (2008) and its follow-up television series, Agnès Varda: From Here to There (2011). Even the well-received film she made with artist JR in 2017, Faces Places, is at least in part a duel self-portrait. Today the Berlin International Film Festival has revealed that she’s already completed another one. Varda par Agnès, whose title echoes a book published by Cahiers du cinéma in 1994, is one of eleven titles just added to the festival’s competition lineup. The other ten:

  • In Israeli filmmaker Yuval Adler’s The Operative, Diane Kruger stars as a spy for Mossad who disappears in London after making a cryptic call to her handler.
  • Isabel Coixet’s Elisa & Marcela is based on the true story of the first attempt at same-sex marriage in Spain. In 1901, Marcela Gracia Ibeas took on the identity of Mario Sánchez to marry her lover of fifteen years, Elisa Sanchez Loriga.
  • Nora Fingscheidt’s System Crasher, developed in the Berlinale Talents program, tracks a nine-year-old girl’s through Germany’s child protection system.
  • Piranhas is Claudio Giovannesi’s adaptation of Roberto Saviano’s bestseller about rival teenage crime bosses in Naples.
  • Agnieszka Holland’s Mr. Jones tells the true story of the Welsh journalist who broke the news in the western media of the famine in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s.
  • In Teona Strugar Mitevska’s God Exists, Her Name is Petrunija, a Macedonian woman throws herself into a traditionally men-only ceremony, kicking up a ruckus and standing her ground.
  • Hans Petter Moland’s Out Stealing Horses, based on Per Petterson’s international bestseller, features Stellan Skarsgård as a grieving widower who moves to the country, where he’s confronted with his past.
  • Wagner Moura’s Marighella is based on the life of Marxist Brazilian writer Carlos Marighella, who was murdered by the military dictatorship in 1969.
  • Wang Quan’an won Berlin’s Golden Bear in 2006 for Tuya’s Marriage and a Silver Bear for best screenplay in 2010 for Apart Together. We don’t yet know much about Öndög.
  • Wang Xiaoshuai’s So Long, My Son centers on two married couples adjusting to the vast social and economic changes taking place in China from the 1980s to the present.

The festival has added six titles to its Berlinale Special program as well, including a new restoration of Gregory Nava’s El Norte (1983), a documentary about German actor Mario Adorf (The Tin Drum), Chiwetel Ejiofor’s debut feature as a director, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, and Safy Nebbou’s Who You Think I Am, starring this year’s jury president, Juliette Binoche.

The Berlinale’s also announced that thirty-seven features will be pitched during this year’s coproduction market, including projects in the works from Shira Geffen (Jellyfish), Santiago Mitre (Paulina, The Summit), Uberto Pasolini (probably best known for producing The Full Monty), Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters), Marcela Said (Los Perros), and Carla Simón (Summer 1993).

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