Faces Places is Varda at her most intimate

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Agnes Varda teams up with artist JR in her latest film, Faces Places

In The Gleaners and I (2000), Agnes Varda used the new medium of digital filmmaking to reflect on her mortality, combining her personal life with the story of the homeless she was telling. Later on, Varda would make The Beaches of Agnes (2008), a film examining her cinematic career and its relation to her off-screen life. The Beaches of Agnes even features a scene from The Gleaners and I and can be thought of as a cracking open and extension of that film’s autobiographical elements. With her latest film Faces Places, Varda teams up with the artist JR—”one big leap,” as she puts it—to once again celebrate her personal life, this time around as a collaborative experience between herself, JR, and the citizens they visit. Traveling in a van that doubles as a photo-booth, the two visit various villages in rural France, photographing people, blowing their images up to gigantic proportions, and pasting them on to the side of buildings. JR offers a charismatic (if only at times a bit grating) charm that draws people in. In this manner, Faces Places also becomes a celebration about everyday people. Varda, like her friend Chris Marker, finds beauty in the everyday banality of life, and in JR she finds a student, a friend, and an equal to explore the multitudes of what life still has to offer yet.

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